In Your Hand
(14) But I have trusted in you, Yahweh. I have said, “You are my God.” (15) My times are in your hand. Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who pursue me. (16) Cause your face to shine on your servant. Save me by your steadfast love. (17) Yahweh, let me not be shamed, for I have called to you. Let the wicked be shamed. Let them be silent in Sheol. (18) Let the lying lips be silenced which speak arrogantly against the righteous in pride and contempt. (19) How great is your goodness which you have stored up for those who fear you and have accomplished for those who take refuge in you in the sight of the sons of men! (20) In the shelter of your presence you hide them from the intrigues of men. You protect them in your pavilion from the strife of tongues.
As in a classical music concerto where the third movement returns to the upbeat feel of the first, this third segment of the psalm sounds a far more positive note than the previous one. The opening “but” marks a major turning point where we move back from the shadows into the sunshine (vs. 14). Throughout this section the psalmist proclaims his trust in Yahweh who is able to deliver him from all his problems, an expansion of the profession of trust he had made earlier (vss. 6-8).
David employs several clever wordplays on repeated terms for emphasis. First, he makes use of the word, “hand” (vs. 15), declaring, “My times are in your hand,” that is, under Yahweh’s sovereign control. He then prays for deliverance from “the hand of my enemies,” that is, from their power to do him harm. Then the word, “shamed,” is featured. After asking Yahweh to protect him from being shamed, David asks that his enemies be shamed instead (vs. 17).
In the remaining verses, David uses several related words to make his point. After asking that his enemies might be left “silent in Sheol,” that is, the grave (vs. 17), he prays that their “lying lips (might) be silenced” so that they not continue to “speak” against the righteous (vs. 18). Finally, David declares Yahweh’s presence to be his place of shelter from “the strife of tongues” (vs. 20).
I. Trusting in God to deliver from the power of enemies (14-17)
II. Trusting in God to deliver from their verbal attacks (18-20)
Those who take refuge in God’s loving protection can trust him to deliver them from the malevolence of their enemies.
We should take time to meditate on the statement, “My times are in your hand” (vs. 15). At least two features should strike us as notable regarding this expression of faith. First, the truth that God who is eternal, dwelling in the timeless realms of heaven, should concern himself with finite beings who are trapped in time and space should never cease to amaze us. Theologians speak of this as condescension. God did this so that we who are created in his image and likeness might be rescued from bondage to sin and death, transformed into the likeness of his Son, and made fit to dwell with him forever.
The second striking phrase is “in your hand.” We know that God who is spirit has neither hands nor feet. Yet, in this figure of speech, “anthropomorphism,” human features are ascribed to God to help us more readily understand his attributes and activities. God’s “hand” which formed the sun, moon, and stars, shaped the mountains, filled the seas, and wields the weapons which destroy our enemies, is the same “hand” that was nailed to the cross of Calvary to accomplish our salvation. As we meditate on these truths, we realize that we can certainly entrust our times – past, present, and future – into his powerful and loving hand, knowing that he will always protect us and never forsake us.