Arise, O Lord! Confront him, subdue him!
Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword,
from men by your hand, O Lord,
from men of the world whose portion is in this life. (Ps 17:13-14 ESV)
David prays often for God deliver him from the hand of Saul. Saul chased him all around the countryside, searching the caves and cities that David frequented. There were many brushes with death that David had as Saul nearly caught up with him. Twice did God put Saul into David’s hands and twice did David spare him. David spared him because his faith rested in God to do something about it, rather than him. Saul was still God’s anointed and David would not harm him. These Psalms show David’s very eager prayer that God would deal with Saul. Though it looked like his prayer was not answered, for it took years, David never wavered in his faith nor his longing for the presence and courts of God.
What I like about this prayer is the end of verse 14 where David refers to the wicked men as “men of the world whose portion is in this life.” Remembering this psalm comes on the heals of David’s prayer fueled by a vision of the resurrection and eternal pleasures at God’s right hand gives this rich meaning. Am I a man whose portion is in this life or a man whose portion is in the next? Where have I set my flag? Which do I call home? It reminds me of the parable Jesus tells in Luke 16 that begins,
“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.
Here is a man whose flag was planted in this world and a man whose flag was planted in the next.
What is your vision for the future? Is it the vision of the resurrection?
Chronological Reading Plan plus Psalms: Ps 17, 35, 54, 63
Other thoughts (that I might not forget them):
How long, O Lord, will you look on?
Rescue me from their destruction,
my precious life from the lions!
I will thank you in the great congregation;
in the mighty throng I will praise you. (Psalm 35: 17-18)
David’s regular commitment to thank or praise God in the congregation is also a show of faith. For many of these are written during the time David is in hiding and away from the temple, not able to come into the great congregation. To make such a statement isn’t thus just a promise of what he will do, but a way of expressing his faith in God to deliver.
1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
6 when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
7 for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me. (Psalm 63:1-8)
It is good to remember that David prays such while in the desert – thirsty and perhaps hungry. He feels the burden of the 4-600 men with him. That situation would consume most of us. Bud David is sustained by the memory of beholding God in the sanctuary. Instead of dwelling on their dire needs, he dwells on this memory. Even at night he remembers and meditates on this as he can’t sleep. It is hard to envision a heart closer to God than David’s and it is clear to see that the direness of his situation was instrumental to his closeness with the Lord. Would you take this direness if it meant having the kind of joy in the Lord that David knows?