Really God? David was probably getting to that place, the peak of frustration running away from King Saul, the bane of his existence, that he was starting to question the whole thing. Hey, have you ever done that? Have you ever said to God, you know I'm not having a lot of fun down here while trying to do what you told me to do. Instead, I'm avoiding being shot at. It's like I'm on trial for being the good guy. The first several verses are all about that...
"Thou hast visited me by night."
"Hear a just cause, O Lord, give heed to my cry;
(KJV: Hear the right...)
Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.
Let my judgment (sentence) come forth from Thy presence;
Let Thine eyes look with equity (things that are equal, justness, impartiality).
Thou hast tried (proved) my heart;
Thou hast visited me by night;
Thou hast tested me and dost find nothing (no evil device in me);
I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress."
"'Thou hast tried (tested) me' Thou hast put me to the test, as they do metals, in order to detect their alloy, and to purify them; well expressed by the Vulgate, 'Thou hast tried me by fire.'" David was feeling the heat, feeling the burn. David was in some ways supposed to be the picture of Christ our Savior who wandered about homelessly in order to bring a kingdom, but not of this earth. David had his years of wandering while wondering what kind of kingdom is this, running from an enemy who had usurped the throne he was supposed to have?
Looking for a misplaced kingdom?
"As for the deeds of men,
by the word of Thy lips
I have kept from the paths of the violent (the destroyer).
My steps have held fast to Thy paths.
My feet have not slipped.
I have called upon Thee,
for Thou wilt answer me, O God;
Incline Thine ear to me, hear my speech
(from my enemies against my soul).
Then David starts to wax poetical. The other day one of the "yellows," twins from down the street who have been our son's friends from way back, came by. He looked around and said, "Yeah, this is like my second home. Here, give me a hug." Me, I'm not the biggest hugger in the world, yet as need-be, I gave the young man a hug. Then he wanted to show off some Shakespeare quotes he'd had to learn by memory from"Romeo and Juliet"as an assignment in class. It was the last thing I was expecting to come from his mouth before he ran off to play airsoft wars in our backyard in the rain. That's kind of like what David did here in the middle of a battleground, in the middle of feeling like he was in a court room on trial making his case, he is suddenly sounding real purty...
"Wondrously show Thy lovingkindness,
O Savior of those who take refuge at
Thy right hand
From those who rise up against them.
Keep me as the apple of the eye
(as the black, the pupil, the daughter of the eye);
Here are a few pretty word pictures. The first is about the beautiful, as in "wondrously" shown lovingkindness, hesed, the most inward churnings of God's heart towards us in one big valentine for those who take refuge in His strength, His right hand.
Then he says we are the apple of our daddy's eye, you know, the pupil that gets bigger and blacker when a heart's interest is involved.
Finally, this passage offers the picture of a mother hen hiding her chicks from the predator hawk. Jesus himself wept over Jerusalem saying, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling." (Matthew 23:37) Here David is asking to be hidden knowing it was a dangerous world out there for him. Yet, in the New Testament, Jesus longed to protect His little ones, but they refused Him.
Which is the most relevant picture for you? The wondrous loving refuge found in God's might, the apple of His eye, or the safety under His wing? How about all of the above! I hope you're not that itty bitty yellow chick running as fast as your scrawny little baby chicken legs can carry you in every which way except under the safety of God's protection. Not a safe choice. Rather, be found in all the other things in the above. It's better than winning millions or billions in the lottery; after all, that money is just pieces of paper while God is relationship.
So even though David's thoughts go back to the bad guys, those "have closed their unfeeling heart;" and to those who "With their mouth they speak proudly," he asks God to "Arise, O Lord, confront him, bring him low; Deliver my soul from the wicked with Thy sword, From men with Thy hand, O Lord."
"They have now surrounded us in our steps;
They set their eyes to cast us down to the ground.
("the attitude of the huntsmen looking for the track
of the hart's, the hind's, or the antelope's foot on the ground.")
He is like a lion that is eager to tear,
And as a young lion lurking in hiding places.
"I believe the word lion is here used to express Saul
Saul is tracking David, is lurking like a fierce lion to find and overpower him to destroy him.
"Arise, O Lord, disappoint him." "When he arises to spring upon and tear me to pieces, arise Thou, O Lord; disappoint him of his prey; seize him, and cast him down. Deliver my soul. Save my life. From the wicked, which is thy sword. Saul is still meant." So here is David the brave one who as a boy fought and killed the lion and bear which threatened his sheep, the one who stood alone to battle and kill Goliath, is now the one on the defense, in fear for his life, unless God intervenes. Hmm. Just because we win one or two victories in this life, we do not get to lay down on our laurels. The enemy of our soul is relentless. We better have God on our side or we are in bad shape.
Then comes the universal question every Christian gets around to asking one day: "How come the bad guys seem to have it all? Sometimes it doesn't look like they are suffering at all, but have all the spoils and live on easy street."
"From men of the world,
whose portion is in this life;
And whose belly Thou dost fill with Thy treasure;
They are satisfied with children,
Do you think David might be missing a normal life right about now, one with him sitting by his own hearth enjoying his children instead of hiding out in caves with a motley army while his wives and children are displaced with foreigners? Yup. Some people get their portion in this life, and the answer to the question for them is "Yes, this is all there is." They will not get to inherit the kingdom of God. What they have are small potatoes while we get the whole twice baked potato with cheese, sour cream and bacon, if you get my jest. We will get something they can only dream of in this world. Even better, we have a heritage as unto the Lord for our sons and daughter
David closes with a lovely thought..."As for me, I shall behold Thy face in righteousness;
I will be satisfied with beholding Thy likeness when I awake . Yes, even if your enemy has it better off than you do right now, even if you live a caveman existence, even if your bed is on the ground and your pillow is rock hard--well, because it is one--you can wake up to God. Christ Himself said He did not have anywhere to lay His head. He'll camp out with your even in your hardships. You can always wake up to Him. Thanks David for the reminder.