Theme: God’s Actions and Our Response
In this week’s lessons, we see the stark reality of evil, even in our own hearts, and that God protects and preserves those who come to him through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Scripture: Psalm 140:1-13
In yesterday’s study we began a look at Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s sermon on the second half of this psalm, beginning with verse 6. In today’s study we continue our look at Spurgeon’s outline, which began with the first point of possession, when David says, “You are my God” (v. 6).
2. Petition: “Hear, O LORD, my cry for mercy” (v. 6). Whenever we turn our thoughts to God the first thing that should strike us is God’s holiness and, by contrast, our sin. This means that we must never come to God claiming that we deserve something from him because of our good works, faithfulness or even sincerity. We are at best “unworthy servants,” and the only way we can ever come to God is on the basis of his mercy, which he has made known to us in Jesus Christ. It is because David asks for mercy, here as in many of his other psalms, that we know that his words about evil men are not self-righteous. The difference between David and his enemies was not that they were evil and he was not, but that he had confessed his wickedness and had come to God for the forgiveness and cleansing God provides.
God is a merciful God, and it is a good thing too because we need it! In fact, it is the only possible ground on which we can come to him. Do you know that? Is that how you come to God in your prayers? You will never be received by God unless you come as the tax collector did when he prayed: “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). Jesus said that it was this man, rather than the self-righteous Pharisee, who went home justified.
3. Preservation: “O Sovereign LORD, my strong deliverer, who shields my head in the day of battle” (v. 7). Verses 8-11 elaborate this point, for having reminded himself that God had preserved him in the past, David asks for protection in the present, specifically against those persons who have been perpetrating evil (in vv. 8-11).
What does he ask for specifically? He asks God to confound his enemies. They have been setting traps to snare him (v. 5); therefore, “Do not let their plans succeed” (v. 8). They have been troubling others with their belligerent designs (v. 2); therefore, “Let the heads of those who surround me be covered with the trouble their lips have caused” (v. 9). They have been trying to destroy others (v. 1); therefore, “Let burning coals fall upon them; may they be thrown into the fire, into miry pits, never to rise” (v. 10). They have been wounding faithful citizens of Israel by their slanders (v. 3); therefore, “Let slanderers not be established in the land” (v. 11).
4. Protection: “The LORD secures justice to the poor and upholds the cause of the needy” (v. 12). The writer’s confidence in God has been growing throughout the psalm. He reminded himself that God was his protection in the past. He asked God to protect him in the present. Now he looks to what is future and asserts confidently that God will act justly in coming days too. What is more, he will do it not merely for David, but for the poor and needy everywhere who are suffering: “I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy” (v. 12). The Judge of all the earth will do right, and David is able to rest in that assurance. Those who practice evil will get what they have earned.
5. Praise: “Surely the righteous will praise your name and the upright will live before you” (v. 13). David’s confidence reaches its climax in the final verse of the psalm. He has looked at those who are practicing evil and has identified their evil. He has looked to God, recalling God’s protection of him in the past. He has expressed his confidence for the future. Now he concludes that because God is God and because he acts justly, “Surely the righteous will praise your name and the upright will live before you” (v. 13). So this great psalm about evil and evil persons ends in praise. That is how everything will end! We read about it in Revelation, where the great company of the redeemed unite in praising and worshiping God forever. This is man’s chief end. Will you be among these people? If so, why not praise God now?
On what basis can we come to God?
From what does David ask protection? How can he do this with confidence?
What does David anticipate for the future? Why?
How does the psalm end?
Application: List the ways God has protected you in the past and thank him for his provision.
Review: Review the five points of Spurgeon’s sermon.
For Further Study: The book of Psalms has much to teach us about how to deal with the presence of evil—whether the evil around us or the evil in our own lives. James Boice’s thoughtful and practical studies can be a great help in better understanding and applying this treasured portion of God’s Word. The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals is offering the three-volume paperback set for 25% off the regular price.