Psalms 3 to 7 are for a person under attack by an enemy. Psalm 3 begins with a desperate plea to God because David’s enemies are so many. David shows us where to start when evil attacks us personally – unity with God through praise and thanksgiving. Because David begins with praise, he sleeps well, clears his head and has no fear, despite being surrounded by thousands of the enemy. In his heart, a refreshed David then leaps directly to a sense of restoration, saying:
“Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on the people” (3:8, ESV).
In Psalm 4, David continues with praise – he is full-throated, not half-hearted and unsure. He even addresses the throng seeking to kill him, reminding them that their lies about him are disobedience in the eyes of God, for which they will surely pay. David then turns to those around him, repeating that the Lord hears when we call out to him. He then tells them it is quite acceptable to be angry at the enemy. But he also offers a warning not to sin against God. Despite his desperate situation, David the true leader triumphantly declares to God concerning his enemies:
“You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound” (4:7).
Psalm 5 begins with more groaning, yet I classify this too as unity with God (although perhaps not perfect), since David can complain while knowing his Father’s love is never-ending. But then David turns toward another dimension – the nature of God himself in guiding a child of his threatened by evil. David notes that God does not delight in wickedness; evil cannot dwell within him; and he hates evildoers. Then, a striking statement: the boastful shall not stand before God – this means no chance for repentance and restoration! This chills me to the bone – apparently the definition of “wicked” is much more inclusive than I thought. Have I ever boasted? Oh my, yes! While enduring attacks from the wicked under the shield of God, there is personal work to be done, isn’t there?
“For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield” (5:12).
Psalm 6 introduces the need for our own repentance in the face of persecution, but God still always loves his children:
“O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath…save me for the sake of your steadfast love…The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer” (6:1, 4b, 9).
Psalm 7 further emphasizes the need for repentance, on the part of both the wicked attacker and the one being attacked. David captures it thus:
“God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword…the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. He makes a pit…and falls into the hole that he has made. His mischief returns upon his own head…” (7:11, 12a, 14, 15, 16a).
When evil threatens, honesty with God even in repentance is far better than facing his whetted sword!