Once again, David found himself in difficulty and cried out to the Lord for help. We don’t know what caused the problem, but it involved wicked people and workers of iniquity, and deceptive people who pretended to be David’s friends but were working for his ruin. The period leading up to Absalom’s rebellion would fit this description, but would David pray for his own son’s destruction when he asked to have Absalom spared (vv. 4–5; 2 Sam. 18:5)? Regardless of the background, this psalm teaches us some important lessons about prayer and patience.
The Problem of Unanswered Prayer (vv. 1–5)
David had prayed fervently about his dangerous situation, but the Lord hadn’t answered him. (See 13:1; 35:22; 39:12; 40:17; 69:3; 83:1; 109:1; 119:82.) It has often been said that “God’s delays are not God’s denials,” and David was learning that important lesson. In verse 1, he “called” on the Lord, and in verse 2, he “cried out” to Him in desperation, but the Lord didn’t answer. The unchanging Rock had changed! (19:14; 31:2–3; 62:2). Was the Lord silent because He could no longer hear and speak? David lifted his hands in worship as he prayed toward the sanctuary of God (63:4; 141:2; Ex. 17:9; 1 Kings 8:44ff; Lam. 2:19; 3:41; 1 Tim. 2:8), but the Lord apparently didn’t see him. But Jehovah is the “living God” who sees His people, hears their cries, and speaks His Word to them! (115:1–8). David felt like a dead man whose body was in the tomb and whose soul was in sheol, the realm of the departed (22:20; 30:9; 88:4; 143:7). He also felt like a criminal who was being dragged away with the wicked to be executed (vv. 3–5). They were hypocrites, but he was speaking the truth. They had no regard for the words and works of the Lord, but David was a servant of God who worshiped Him faithfully. According to God’s covenant with Israel, David’s idolatrous enemies should have been judged and condemned, but the Lord was doing nothing. How could God treat His anointed king like a criminal? But we should remind ourselves that the Father allowed His own Son to be unjustly treated like a common criminal (Isa. 53:7–8, 12; Luke 22:37). David’s prayer was not an expression of personal revenge but a call for God to fulfill His covenant and bring righteousness and peace into the land. “Let them reap what they have sown,” was his request.
The Joy of Unbounded Praise (vv. 6–7)
Suddenly, the scene changes and David is singing instead of sobbing! The reason is given in verse 7, “My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped” (NASB). Faith in Jehovah made all the difference. The hands of the enemy were busy doing evil (v. 4), but when David believed God and lifted up his hands in prayer (v. 2), then God’s hands went to work and met the need (v. 5). Faith moves the hands of God, and God’s hands control the universe.
David blessed the Lord for his deliverance and wasn’t ashamed to confess it. His testimony was clear: “God heard me and God helped me! I trusted Him and now I praise Him!” David now had the strength to obey God’s will, no matter what the enemy might do. He also had the Lord as his shield (3:3; 7:10; 18:2, 30; 33:20; 84:11; Gen. 15:1; Deut. 33:29). David had God’s power and God’s protection. How wonderful that David turned a painful experience into a song of praise to the Lord and that he left behind a witness that has encouraged other believers for centuries.
The Promise of Undeserved Blessing (vv. 8–9)
David closed his song by encouraging his people with what he had learned from the Lord. Not only had God saved His anointed king, but He would also save His people Israel. “God save the king” included “God save the people,” so they must trust Him. David saw the nation as God’s inheritance (33:12; 78:62, 71; 79:1; 94:14; Deut. 4:20; 9:26, 29; 32:11; Mic. 7:14, 18), God’s flock, and God’s family. The word “feed” in verse 9 (KJV) means “to shepherd.” (see Ps. 23), and “lift up” means “to carry like a child.” Of course, the faithful shepherd sometimes has to carry the lambs, so the two images merge (Isa. 40:11). Though he was Israel’s king, David always saw himself as a shepherd (2 Sam. 24:17). Indeed, the nation of Israel is God’s inheritance, for He has invested in them the spiritual treasures that the bankrupt world needs (Rom. 9:1–5). “Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). God has not forsaken His people.