David often talks about God being a place to hide from enemies—as in this Psalm (vv. 1-4).
The reason David has enemies is that God has given Israel a land to enjoy, look after and protect. Surrounding peoples don’t like this and harass them. And David is commander in chief.
In this contest, David knows he is weak. He’s still effectively the boy walking out to confront a Goliath. He’s become a brave and resourceful leader, but when his enemies are also God’s enemies, he needs a safe space—God, as his refuge.
In simple terms, David trusts God to act. He expects Israel’s covenant Lord to reveal his righteousness and faithfulness by protecting him (v. 1, 5).
The world doesn’t need to see our human strength. Seeking power is the world’s problem. Rather, it needs to see us strong in the Lord.
The church that Jesus now builds—unlike Israel—is not a nation state with territory to defend. But we are Christ’s kingdom. That is, we have a ruler, a law, a message to announce, and an expectation that this kingdom will finally be visibly established.
This puts us in conflict with the world and its ruler. Satan doesn’t like competition. And the world doesn’t accept that it must answer to its Creator.
If we’re Christians, we’re involved. The battle is on, and it’s nasty. Many times, we need a hiding place. We need to go to God with our distress (vv.6-8).
Deep down, we all fear being shamed. It’s a potent weapon in our present world. And when this happens, simply trying to be strong won’t get us anywhere.
This is especially so because we have sins of our own that complicate every situation (vv. 9-10). We know we don’t deserve to be looked after. What we need is redemption—from our sins and from Satan’s accusations.
So, we need to tell the Lord what evils our enemies are perpetrating, and the distress this is giving us (vv. 9-13).
But then, we need to affirm who our God is, and what he has promised to do for us (vv. 14-18). This is vital. People without God are without hope (Eph. 2:2:12). But our days are all in God’s hands, and our flourishing, and our reputation. We can ask for help.
David shows us the hope we are right to have (vv. 19-22). God is good. And his goodness is a storehouse full of good things. Any alarm we may have is invalid!
So, we have much with which to encourage one another—to love God, and to be strong (vv. 23-24)!
Jesus quotes this Psalm as he dies (v. 5; in Luke 23:46). There is nothing of the world’s violence and Satan’s malice that he is spared. But he entrusts his whole being (spirit) to the Father. And God hears his prayer by raising him from the dead (1 Tim. 3:16).
If you like, he validates this experience of trust when faced with hostility. And because he has died for our sins, our hope can be as sure as his (Heb. 12:3).
Interestingly, Jesus doesn’t quote the line ‘you have redeemed me’. This can simply mean ‘saved me’, but redeeming is done by paying a price. No-one needs to pay anything to save Jesus (the meaning of redeem). He is paying the price himself—to redeem us. That’s our hiding place.
So, let’s pray.
Our Father in heaven, trusting in your Son has exposed us to the hatred of this world and to the malice of its prince. We feel the heat and the injustice of this. We feel the temptation to fight fire with fire.
Save us from these false battles. Hide us in your Son from the accusations of Satan and the culture he controls. Save us from fearing the loss of our reputation or safety. Open up ways of living joyfully and confidently and usefully in this present world.
Put a song in our mouths, like the song David sings. You are a God we can trust. Jesus is our hiding place, our Saviour and Lord. Father, you have wonderfully showed your love to us.
Deal with our enemies. They don’t know what they are doing. They need to know Jesus as Saviour. But do not let the battle leave us embattled. Rather, gentle our hearts with love for you, and strengthen them with the certainty that you act. In Jesus name. Amen.