The Book of Psalms

Thursday: Sudden Destruction for the Wicked


Theme: Evil Plans
In this week’s lessons we see that as David looks to God for victory over his enemies, there is much we can learn as we face battles of our own.
Scripture: Psalm 64:1-10
Yesterday we were talking about two of the five different things that psalm 64 verses 2 through 6 examine. Today we’ll continue with the remaining three. Remember that we are called upon to fight the Lord’s battles with the Lord’s weapons, not the weapons of the world. The world’s weapons are money, power, influence. Our weapons are the Word of God and prayer. It is said of the warfare of the saints against Satan in Revelation, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12:11).
Their methods (v. 4). Verse 4 outlines the methodology of the ones who were conspiring against David. It was secret, sudden warfare: “They shoot from ambush at the innocent man; they shoot at him suddenly, without fear.” This is particularly effective against the innocent, just because the innocent person is innocent. A guilty person might be on his guard and probably is. The innocent person is not on guard. So a sudden surprise attack can overthrow him.
This is the first point in the psalm where the key word “suddenly” occurs. (It also occurs in verse 7.) “Strike suddenly when your enemy is least expecting it” is the idea. This has worked well in military campaigns. The Romans were masters of it; Julius Caesar used it effectively in Gaul. These evil persons have discovered that it also works well against innocent people, such as David. Who can protect us from the arrow that is launched by night or from some hidden covert? Only God, who is the psalmist’s trust.
Their plans (v. 5). In verse 5 the word “encourage” is actually a bit stronger than the English word suggests. For this is not a matter of bucking one another up, but rather of “strengthening” the other person or persons with the goal, in this case, of “hardening” those people in their evil purposes. On this verse Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote wisely, “Good men are frequently discouraged and not unfrequently discourage one another, but the children of darkness are wise in their generation and keep their spirits up, and each one has a cheering word to say to his fellow villain.”1 If the wicked can do this, what is wrong with us? Shouldn’t Christians encourage and strengthen one another, rather than attacking one another, as we often do?
The question asked in the last phrase of verse 5, “Who will see them?”, is indirect, so that it actually means, “Who will see us?” In other words, it is referring to the wicked themselves, not to their plots. These people are working secretly and in the dark. They do not think anyone can see them or that their plots can be uncovered. But they have forgotten God, who sees everything. Before him all hearts are open, all desires known.
Their pride (v. 6). The last thing said about the wicked, in verse 6, is that they think they have “devised a perfect plan.” In other words, they are proud, even smug in their devising. They think that nobody is as clever as they are. They look down on the innocent as naive, foolish, even stupid people. But, as we will see, it is actually the wicked who are foolish, because they have forgotten God. Anyone who leaves God out of his or her life is a fool, according to the Bible (see Psalm 14:1; 53:1; Rom. 1:21-23).
The last phrase of this section, the last sentence of verse 6, contains the psalmist’s comment on the nature of man and the terrible evil that is within him. The Hebrew literally speaks of men’s hearts as being “deep,” the idea being that they are almost bottomless in their supply of evil deeds and cunning. It would be good to underline that sentence in your Bible, or highlight it in some way, for it is a shrewd comment on human nature—not that people are nice or dependable or generous or any other good quality, though people are capable of kind acts from time to time, but rather that we are all bottomless in our ability to work harm. Surely as Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jer. 17:9). Or as Paul said in Romans: “All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of asps is on their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Rom. 3:12-18).2
1C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 2a, Psalms 58-87 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1968), p. 83.
2Paul is quoting from Psalm 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Psalm 5:9; 140:3; 10:7; Isaiah 59:7, 8; and Psalm 36:1.
Study Questions:

List and compare the world’s weapons with God’s weapons.
What kind of person is usually on guard?
Who are the foolish in this passage? Why are they wicked?
What do we learn about the human heart from the Hebrew word for “deep”?

Reflection: Are you putting your trust in God or in something or someone else for justice?
Application: In light of this lesson of trusting in God, what will you do to allow God to handle the person who treats you badly?
Prayer: There is danger in focusing too much on our enemies because it can lead to self-righteousness. Examine your own heart before God and confess any wrong attitudes you may have about people who have hurt you.

Study Questions
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