Maintain My Cause
(6) I say to Yahweh, “You are my God. Hear the voice of my entreaties, Yahweh. (7) Yahweh, my Lord, the strength of my salvation, you have covered my head in the day of battle. (8) Do not grant, Yahweh, the desires of the wicked. Do not let their evil plans succeed lest they become proud. (Selah) (9) May the heads of those who surround me be covered with the troubles their lips have caused. (10) May burning coals fall on them. Cause them to fall into deep pits from which they cannot emerge. (11) May not the slanderer be established in the land. May disaster hunt down the man of violence quickly. (12) I know that Yahweh will maintain the cause of the poor and (bring about) justice for the needy. (13) Surely the righteous will give thanks to your name. The upright will dwell in your presence.”
The opening sentence of this second and final segment of the psalm indicates that the remainder of the psalm constitutes an earnest prayer. Here David cries out to Yahweh, asking him to deal with his enemies. Note the psalmist’s constant use of God’s covenant name, “Yahweh,” repeated five times in these verses. Note also the string of imperatival verbs, two actual imperatives (vs. 8) followed by a group of jussives indicated by the English helping verb “may” (vss. 8-11), all conveying the urgency of his requests.
I. Introductory prayer: Hear me! (6 & 7)
II. Heart of the prayer: Deal with my enemies. (8-11)
III. Conclusion: I know Yahweh will hear and answer me. (12 &13)
The healthiest way to deal with our enemies is to turn them over to Yahweh by means of earnest prayer.
Several times in this year-long study of the psalms we have referred to Paul’s admonition, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). David in this psalm shows us how to do this by means of earnest prayer.
Believers sometimes wonder about the effectiveness of intercession as opposed to taking direct action. The authors of Scripture leave no doubt as to the power of prayer to accomplish Yahweh’s purposes in our lives and in the lives of others. How much better it is to hand over our concerns to an all-wise and all-powerful God who has pledged to take care of his own in just the right way and at just the right time rather than seeking justice on our own!
By attempting to avenge ourselves we accomplish little apart from intensifying the conflict. Our actions inevitably convey the following message to our adversaries: “Since you have made me suffer, I will inflict even more suffering on you so you might know how I feel.” The inevitable response of our opponents will be to up the ante, to inflict even greater damage on us than we have done to them. If this were allowed to continue, there would be no end to the escalating cycle of retribution (think of the feuding Hatfields and McCoys). Only a just God knows how to repay those who have hurt us. Even before we suffer an injustice, we should determine ahead of time to leave whatever happens in the hands of our heavenly Father. In this way, we are free to pursue a life of righteousness and rid ourselves of any temptation to seek to retaliate on our own.