But you, Sovereign Lord, help me for your name’s sake; out of the goodness of your love, deliver me.
Psalm 109:21 NIV
Don’t you just love the verses in the Bible that begin with the words ‘but God’? At the start of Psalm 109, King David is recalling how he has been unfairly treated. His enemies have accused him with lies, they have attacked him without cause, they have pretended to be his friend only to stab him in his back! Psalm 109:2-5: ‘
2 for people who are wicked and deceitful have opened their mouths against me; they have spoken against me with lying tongues. 3 With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause. 4 In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer. 5 They repay me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship.’
What would you do in this situation? What have you done? Maybe you took revenge yourself, or maybe you kept silent, and the pain and the hurt of how you were treated gnaws away at your conscience and now you can’t trust anyone. You feel abandoned and alone.
If you are a believer, as King David was, you are not alone, nor abandoned. David recognised the situation he was in and his own inability to do anything himself about it, but he also remembered His God. The Psalm opens in verse 1 with David asking: ‘My God, whom I praise, do not remain silent’.
David starts by coming before God, he is praying to God. He says in v4 that he is a man of prayer. Although all these things were happening to him, he knew God was aware of his mistreatment and he knew God would vindicate him. David then goes on to ask God to pronounce judgements on his accusers in Vs 6-20: ‘
6 Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy; let an accuser stand at his right hand. 7 When he is tried, let him be found guilty, and may his prayers condemn him. 8 May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership. 9 May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. 10 May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes. 11 May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labour. 12 May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children. 13 May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation. 14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord; may the sin of his mother never be blotted out. 15 May their sins always remain before the Lord, that he may blot out their name from the earth. 16 For he never thought of doing a kindness, but hounded to death the poor and the needy and the broken hearted. 17 He loved to pronounce a curse— may it come back on him. He found no pleasure in blessing— may it be far from him. 18 He wore cursing as his garment; it entered into his body like water, into his bones like oil. 19 May it be like a cloak wrapped about him, like a belt tied forever around him. 20 May this be the Lord’s payment to my accusers, to those who speak evil of me.’
You may be thinking what David asked God to do was harsh, sounds like he wants revenge even! Was he right to ask such things of God? Well, sometimes God did deal harshly with the enemies of His people Israel. God’s people were His treasured possession and if you pick a fight with Israel, you pick a fight with their God.
This David acknowledges in verse 21 that I started with: ‘But you, Sovereign Lord, help me for your name’s sake; out of the goodness of your love, deliver me.’
He asks God to help him not because he is a treasured possession of God, but so that God’s name would be vindicated. He wants God to show himself as Sovereign by coming into his situation and helping him because that is God’s good, loving nature towards His people. God delights in vindicating them, justice is God’s business because He knows everything, He sees everything, and so He can make the right judgement.
In verses 22-31, David pleads his inadequacy and desires God’s glory to be seen (v27) through the answer to his prayer:
‘22 For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me. 23 I fade away like an evening shadow; I am shaken off like a locust. 24My knees give way from fasting; my body is thin and gaunt. 25 I am an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they shake their heads. 26 Help me, Lord my God; save me according to your unfailing love. 27 Let them know that it is your hand, that you, Lord, have done it. 28 While they curse, may you bless; may those who attack me be put to shame, but may your servant rejoice. 29 May my accusers be clothed with disgrace and wrapped in shame as in a cloak. 30 With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord; in the great throng of worshipers I will praise him. 31 For he stands at the right hand of the needy, to save their lives from those who would condemn them.’
At the start of this writing, I asked the question... Don’t you just love the verses in the Bible that begin with the word ‘but God’?
Such verses remind me that when I look around and see the global church, Jesus’s bride, being attacked, it reminds me what God has done and will do for His people. David was writing in his present circumstances, justice had not been served but he recognised there was one who stands nearby and will act: verse 31
‘For he stands at the right hand of the needy, to save their lives from those who would condemn them
In the New Testament we are told in 1 Timothy 2:1-6 that every believer has an advocate before the throne of God who pleads on our behalf for us. We are to pray for our enemies and ask God to reveal the truth of His word to them: ‘
1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.’
Here we have Jesus, the one who was incorrectly accused, not by his enemies, but by his own people, the Jews! He was beaten and bruised, and nailed to a cross, crucified unto death. But Jesus was a perfect man, he never sinned, no guilt was found in him, no malice or hatred towards his accusers. Out of the goodness of His love, Verse 6 above says that he gave himself over to death as a ransom for all people. And God did not remain silent at His Son’s unjust punishment, He raised Jesus from the dead, and by doing so He vindicated Jesus’s mistreatment. Death is the punishment for sin, Jesus never sinned and so death could not hold him and so God raised Him, and Jesus now lives victorious over death and sin.
Jesus now lives to mediate between God and His people. If you are a Christian today, you need not fear your enemies, or wish them harm, pray for them, as Jesus prayed on the cross ‘ Father forgive them, for they know not what they do’. Because, you can be sure that one day you will be vindicated before the throne of God and God will get the glory when the world sees Jesus, coming in the clouds, to take His people home to heaven and to judge all those who oppose Him. This causes the believer to say with David: With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord; in the great throng of worshipers I will praise him. (Psalm 109:30)
If you are not a Christian though, then take heed and pray to Jesus:
‘For he stands at the right hand of the needy, to save their lives from those who would condemn them.’
In John’s gospel after the famous John 3:16 verse we read in verse 18:
‘Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.’
If you come to God through Jesus, you can say with the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 1:13-17: ‘
13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.