A Psalm of David.

This psalm is another authored by David, Israel’s great shepherd king. Once again, David calls upon the LORD for help in a time of trouble.

1.  To You I will cry, O LORD my Rock:

It is the LORD to Whom David cries when he is in trouble. Many in our day cry first to many others. Some look for help to the government. Some seek aid from the church or religious organizations. The men of the world are always coming up with some scheme or plan, some political movement or philosophy, by which they think they can fix the world’s problems. Yet to the believer, the LORD is the only One upon which he knows he can rely in times of trial. He is indeed our Rock That cannot be moved!

Do not be silent to me,

Now David calls upon the LORD not to refuse to answer his request. The LORD’s silence would mean that He refused to deliver David when he called upon Him.

Lest, if You are silent to me,

David fears the consequences if the LORD does refuse to hear him.

I become like those who go down to the pit.

If the LORD does not help him, David fears that he will be like one going down into his sepulcher for burial. In other words, he fears that without help from the LORD, he is facing his death.

2.  Hear the voice of my supplications

Now, having called upon the LORD not to be silent in response to his cry, David calls upon the LORD to hear his supplication and answer him. In other words, he is now stating in a positive way the same request he had stated in a negative way in the previous verse. He is repeating himself for emphasis, stressing his need for help from God.

When I cry to You,

When David cries to Him, he wants the LORD to answer.

When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.

This has nothing to do with the lifting up of hands that many in the more charismatic churches practice today, of lifting up the hands in praise, worship, or exaltation. Lifting up the hands here indicates lifting them up in prayer, or in penitent request. Where David lifts them toward is literally in Hebrew, “Your set apart speaking place.” This probably does indicate the tabernacle in David’s time. We know today that the LORD only speaks to us from His Word.

3.  Do not take me away with the wicked

David sees the LORD as taking away the wicked to be punished, and his supplication to the LORD is that he will not be taken away with them. We know that we live in the dispensation of grace, when God does not take away the wicked for punishment. Yet we know that in the Day of Judgment these wicked will have to face the LORD in answer for their deeds, and, through the Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation we have in Him, we will not be taken away with them!

And with the workers of iniquity,

Those who work iniquity are also taken away by the LORD. This line is basically a poetic repetition of the previous line in slightly different words for emphasis.

Who speak peace to their neighbors,

These are the actions of the wicked and the workers of iniquity.

But evil is in their hearts.

These men act like they are seeking peace with their neighbors, yet in their hearts they are planning calamity against them. Remember, David is writing this as a king, a political leader among the nations round about him. He had seen many nations work deceitfully like this, and he has seen them get their just reward from the hand of the LORD. Thus, he calls upon the LORD not to treat him, a righteous and honest ruler, in this way.

4.  Give them according to their deeds,

David calls upon the LORD to give these men who feign peace and plan destruction their just reward. Those who would plan evil for others deserve to fall into evil themselves.

And according to the wickedness of their endeavors;

As they have endeavored to do wickedness, so the reward for wickedness should be given to them.

Give them according to the work of their hands;

The works that they have done have a just consequence, and David calls upon the LORD to give it to them.

Render to them what they deserve.

David requests that the LORD render to these men what they deserve. This is exactly what God does when He acts in judgment and in government. Yet we know that we do not live in a time when God is governing the world and judging the men upon it. God is acting only and exclusively in grace, and the only thing He will render towards men is love and favor to the undeserving. This kind of prayer is totally inappropriate in view of the dispensation of grace. Yet we do look forward to a different dispensation, the coming Kingdom of God, when God will render to men exactly what they deserve. Grace is glorious, but so will be government. Yet this is not the way God acts today.

5.  Because they do not regard the works of the LORD,

These men deserve the just punishment for their wicked deeds because they do not regard the works of the LORD. Most men today are like this. Either they deny that the LORD exists or has worked at all, like those who think the world created itself through evolution. Or else they acknowledge the existence of God, but seem to think He has no interest in this present world and cares little what the men upon it do with their lives. The works of the LORD thus hold little interest to them, and make little effect on their lives. They live out their wicked course with no regard for what the LORD thinks of their actions, or what He will do about it afterwards. This is why such men deserve the punishment they will receive in the day of judgment.

Nor the operation of His hands,

This would be the execution of the deeds that the LORD works upon earth. In David’s day God did work openly in many ways. In our day, the LORD works only in grace, showing love and favor to the undeserving. Men give no more acknowledgement to this work of the LORD than they did to His works in David’s time.

He shall destroy them

Those who discount the LORD from their thoughts and work wicked deeds will eventually be destroyed by the LORD. In David’s day He might have actively destroyed them from the earth. In the dispensation of grace He does not act this way, but someday He will destroy such men when they face Him in judgment after their resurrection.

And not build them up.

Those whom the LORD does not destroy He builds up. So this line emphasizes that these men will be destroyed, and not be built up.

6.  Blessed be the LORD,

Remember that this Psalm started out with David calling upon the LORD for aid. Then, he spoke of the wicked men, whom the LORD will destroy. Now, David returns to his request for help. Apparently now his request has been heard, for he begins to bless and praise the LORD for His help.

Because He has heard the voice of my supplications!

David is blessing the LORD because He has heard his supplications. Unlike the wicked, who will be destroyed, David knows that the LORD will build him up.

7.  The LORD is my strength and my shield;

When the LORD heard David’s request, He stepped in to become his strength and shield. He was now David’s protection, and would give him the strength to withstand whatever trial he was going through.

My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;

Notice the sequence of events here. David’s heart, that is, his innermost being, had trusted in the LORD. The LORD had responded by helping him. We know that in this time when God acts only graciously we have no guarantee that the LORD will rescue us from any danger we might pass through. Yet one thing we can know, and that is that if we trust in Him, He will help us. Even if that help means giving us the strength to die trusting in Him, we know that He will be there for us. And, in that case, someday He will help us to a new life, where enemies will be done away with for ever!

Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,

Because of the help he had received, David’s innermost being now rejoices.

And with my song I will praise Him.

Because of this help, David will praise the LORD. So the sequence is that David trusted (in the past,) he was helped (in the present,) and so he promises a song of praise to the LORD (in the future.) How will we all sing praise when the LORD puts down all our enemies at last, and brings about His victory in the earth!

8.  The LORD is their strength,

Now David praises the LORD, not just for himself, but for all those for whom the LORD is their strength.

And He is the saving refuge of His anointed.

The LORD is the saving refuge of His anointed. This is the Hebrew word for “messiah.” David was God’s anointed, His messiah, over Israel at that time. Yet this word “anointed” means “designated,” and speaks of those who are set apart by the LORD. The LORD becomes a saving refuge to all such.

9.  Save Your people,

Now David speaks for God’s people. Remember, he was the LORD’s designated king and ruler over Israel at that time. Thus, as their leader, he calls upon the LORD not only to save him, but also all His people, over whom David ruled as their monarch.

And bless Your inheritance;

David requests not only salvation, but also blessing upon Israel, the LORD’s inheritance.

Shepherd them also,

Now he asks the LORD to be their shepherd. How this brings our minds back to the New Testament, where we learn that Jesus Christ is the true shepherd of the sheep! Here again we can see clearly that that New Testament reference is not to the Lord’s actions towards the believer of today, but towards His chosen people of Israel.

And bear them up forever.

It is the LORD Who can and will bear Israel up for the coming eon. Israel today is always facing oppression and fierce opposition. They desperately need their Shepherd to bear them up. And here, the LORD promises that He will do this, not in our day, but in the coming Kingdom of God, the great outflowing of God that will soon come upon the earth. May God speed the day!