Deliver Me, Yahweh!
(H) For the director of the choir, set to “Do not Destroy,” of David, a Miktam, when Saul sent men to watch his house in order to kill him. (1) Deliver me from my enemies, God. Set me securely on high from those who rise up against me. (2) Deliver me from those who do evil, and from bloodthirsty men save me, (3) for, behold, they lie in wait for my soul. Fierce men stir up strife against me not for my transgression nor for my sin, Yahweh. (4) For no fault of mine they run and get themselves ready. Rouse yourself, come to meet me, and see. (5) You, Yahweh, God of hosts, (are) the God of Israel. Awake to deal with all the nations. Do not show favor to any wicked ones who act treacherously. (Selah)
This psalm opens with the repetition of a key word, the imperatival form of the verb “deliver,” each use occurring at the beginning of successive verses (vss. 1 & 2). Two additional imperatives, “set me on high” (vs. 1) and “save me” (vs. 2), convey David’s earnestness in crying out to God.
Just as David seeks God’s deliverance with four successive imperatives, so he protests his innocence with three successive negatives, “not for my transgression...nor for my sin...for no fault of mine” (vss. 3 & 4). Another triplet of imperatival verbs follows: “rouse yourself...come to meet me...see” (vs. 4). A final set of threes occurs with the names David uses to address God: “Yahweh...God of hosts...God of Israel” (vs. 5). This segment is marked by the psalmist’s strong emotions and his great sense of urgency.
How David prayed in times of great danger:
- imploring God for deliverance (1 & 2)
- protesting his innocence (3 & 4a)
- entreating Yahweh to respond (4b & 5)
When falsely accused and wrongly attacked by our enemies, we cry out to God for protection and deliverance.
God had directed Samuel to anoint David, still a teenager, to replace Israel’s first king, Saul, while he was still the nation’s ruler because of his disobedience (1 Sam. 16). As a result, David faced the older king’s growing animosity including several attempts to kill him. David had done nothing to deserve such hostility. In fact, he had done everything possible to serve Saul faithfully. More than once, when it had been within David’s power to take Saul’s life, he had refused to lift up his hand against the Lord’s anointed. His only recourse was to flee and entrust himself to God’s care and protection.
In the Upper Room on the evening before he went to the cross, Jesus shared many difficult truths with his disciples including strong warnings regarding the way the world would treat them because of its hatred for him. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (Jn. 15:18 & 19).
Knowing in advance that we will be hated and mistreated because of our relationship with Christ should help prepare us to cope with the world’s hostility when we encounter it. However, it still hurts if, like David, we have done nothing to deserve such animosity. When this happens, as it inevitably will if we seriously pursue the life of discipleship, we should follow David’s example of crying out to the Lord for his protection and care, trusting him to deliver us from the antagonism we are facing.