Our reading today consists of four Psalms believed to have been written by David shortly after Saul’s slaughter of the priests of Nob. David is on the run, and he now blames himself for what happened (1 Sam 22:22). He knows that Saul will stop at nothing to kill him. The feelings of anger, fear, and discouragement would be overwhelming if not for his great faith.
Psalm 52 is a comparison between the righteous David and the wicked Doeg the Edomite. Doeg boasts in his evil deeds, thinking himself mighty for slaughtering the priests (52:1 – see 1 Sam 22:18). But his evil weapons consist of more than a sword. His lying tongue is a weapon used against the Godly (vv. 2-4). Yet, his evil will one day have to be answered for, and God’s steadfast love to the righteous will endure (v. 1), while the evil will be judged (vv. 5). Of this judgment the righteous will be but spectators, knowing that God is just and the wicked deserves his judgment (v. 6). The laughter of the righteous reflects David’s complete faith the God will judge justly – he will get the “last laugh,” so to speak.
Doeg’s actions are but a symptom of the true problem: he trusts in the world, rather than God (v. 7). Those who do not take refuge in God are taking refuge in their own destruction. But David’s refuge is the Lord. He is planted firmly in God’s presence (v. 8). He trusts in the enduring steadfast love of God. David ends with a declaration of faith. He will thank God forever because He is the source of David’s eternal security (v. 9). So even in this life, and one full of trials for him at that, he will wait for his final redemption and vindication at the last day.
Psalm 64 is also a Psalm of lament, but also of hope. David begins by crying out to God to protect him from not just his enemies, but the fear of his enemies (64:1). And then David laments their actions. They plot evil (v. 2). Their weapon is deceit (v. 3), and they aim their weapon at the innocent (v. 4). They sin boldly, believing that their sin is hidden v. 5). The seek opportunities to do evil, and take pride in their search (v. 6). Yet David has hope. God’s weapons are stronger than theirs (v. 7). He will used their deceit for their own destruction (v. 8), and for His glory (v. 9). Then, David rejoices in his hope. The righteous should all rejoice in God (v. 10). They should seek refuge only in him. And if they do that, they have every reason to praise God, no matter their circumstances.
Psalm 109 is a cry for help. David asks God to answer his prayers (109:1). We see that common theme of the deceit of his enemies (v. 2) and their attack on David without cause (vv. 3-5). So David asks God to turn the tables on his enemies. He prays that they may be tried for their evil like David is being tried for his righteousness (vv. 6-7). David prays that they would die (vv. 8-9) and that their names be forgotten (vv. 10-15).
But notice that David switches from third person plural (“they”) in verses 1-5, to third person singular (“he/him”) in verses 6-20. David has a particular enemy in mind. I believe that while David has Saul in view, or maybe even Doeg, he is also prophesying against Satan. The “accuser” in verse 6 is the Hebrew word that we transliterate as “Satan.” David is praying that Satan – who deceives these evil men – would himself also accuse them, but he is also praying that God would judge both those deceived by Satan, and the deceiver himself! So the “may” and “let” of verses 6-15 apply to those men opposing David and God at that moment, they extend to all of those who are children of Satan (see John 8:39-47 and note how David’s current situation foreshadows that of Christ with the unbelieving Jews), and even to Satan himself who will be cut off at the final judgment (v. 15).
In verses 16-20, David again asks that God turn the tables His enemies, judging them by their own sins. Yet David commits himself to God. He asks that God would vindicate the righteous for the sake of His own glory. Because David is nothing (v. 22), and has no power to save himself (vv. 22-25). So David relies only on God Who is faithful (v. 26), Who is sovereign (v. 27), in whom the righteous will never be ashamed (v. 28), and Who will not leave the guilty unpunished (v. 29). David ends with a prayer of thanks and praise (v. 30) because, through it all, God is with him (v. 31).
Psalm 140 is similar to the other three we have considered today. David is still relying on God to preserve him (140:1) from evil, sinful men (v. 2). There is another comparison to them and Satan in verse 3. The deceit of these men is the weapon of choice for Satan, as well. And that the serpent’s deceit sent the world into sin is partially in view here is confirmed in Romans 3 where Paul quotes this verse as a declaration of the sinful nature of the whole human race (see Rom 3:13).
David again cries out for preservation from God (v. 4), because evil men always seek the hurt of the righteous (v. 5). Verse 6 is another assertion that God is David’s only refuge; his only help. David again prays that the sin of the evil would overtake them (v. 9), and that God would righteously judge them, completely and finally (v. 10). David has faith that God will judge justly (v. 12), and the righteous will be rewarded, completely and finally (v. 13).
David had done no evil, yet was persecuted to the point that his enemies wanted him dead. David nonetheless committed himself to God and His plan. He prayed that God would turn the tables on His enemies – just when they thought they had the upper hand, let them be judged. This describes the life and death of Jesus Christ: persecuted for righteousness’ sake, condemned to death, and yet God turned the tables and judged sin and Satan.