Sometimes it is tempting to feel that God is not quick to help in times of need. Especially when one is threatened physically. A person who knew that all too well was King David, who prayed that God deliver him from his enemies often. It was so common that the end of Psalm 40, which speaks of this topic, is repeated almost verbatim as Psalm 70.
There are many examples of this kind of similarity. As such, it is fitting that the note for the 70th Psalm includes the words, “…By David. A reminder.” Let’s take that to heart, and use this to help us remember that God is our help and deliverer in all times of distress!
However, the beginning of this work does begin with a sense of urgency. It reads,
Hurry, God, to deliver me. Come quickly to help me, Yahweh.Psalm 70:1
In our version, the first word is “hurry,” with a followup plea being “come quickly.” According to the commentaries I consulted, the word for “hurry” is not in the original Hebrew (source below). It is like King David was so quick to pray to God that he didn’t even say a complete sentence. Sometimes it is best to just say a fast, unpretentious prayer, which is a good example to follow. Let’s make our pleas to God as soon as they come to mind! In addition to his speed, notice also that David knows exactly Who can answer his requests. His pleas are to God. We should make a habit of petitioning God as soon as possible for any of our needs.
As the text continues, we learn the reason for his prayers. The Psalmist describes people who are seeking his soul and desiring his ruin. This is striking to me. Not because these are shameful people who want him physically ruined. Rather, I am impressed that they are “seeking his soul.” They want to take his life. How does David respond to this? With prayer,
Let them be disappointed and confounded who seek my soul. Let those who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace. 3 Let them be turned because of their shame Who say, “Aha! Aha!”Psalm 70:2-3
The above is made up of three statements which begin with either “let them,” or “let those.” He petitions God with specific requests about various people who seek him harm. He prays that they be disappointed and confounded, turned back in disgrace, and turned because of their shame. I believe that his words are appropriate and worthy of emulation.
One of my reasons for this is that he is speaking about men who are bent on killing him. We know this because they are seeking his soul. These wicked individuals want him dead. They seem to be consumed with anger concerning him, and so David prays that their shameful actions are turned back against them. This reminds me of Haman who ordered a gallows to be built for Mordecai, only for him to be killed on it instead (Est. 7:7-10). In the case of this psalm, those who wish to ruin a godly man are disgraced and shown for what they really are: shameful. In both of these examples the wicked want someone dead, and are willing to do evil to achieve their goals.
Although I do not yet face physical harm, I often pray that the ungodly be humbled and their desires be brought to nothing. This is so that they may realize their need for God and not do violence. I feel motivated to do this from prayers such as Psalm 70, and other texts in the Bible. Now, I do realize that some may not be comfortable with doing the same. I can respect that. It is indeed necessary to pray for enemies in a positive manner too (Matt. 5:43-45). Please use your own godly wisdom to determine what is best for your situation.
A Proper Perspective for the Godly
After verse 3, the author’s focus changes. Having completed his negative prayers against the shameful, David then shares uplifting statements for those who love God.
Let all those who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. Let those who love your salvation continually say, “Let God be exalted!”Psalm 70:4
As is his custom, the king’s perspective turns to the eternal God, and not his own circumstances. This has been one of David’s common practices as we have been going through the Psalms together. I hope that his example of this encourages us to do likewise. It would be remarkable if we thought about God anytime we are having a challenging time in our lives. May we strive to have a view toward God as often as possible. I am sure it would help ourselves, and those around us.
The verse explains that we are to seek God and rejoice and be glad in Him. Again, this joy is dependent on us knowing Him. It is not based on our current situation. This may be easier to do if we constantly remember the salvation we enjoy in Christ and our love for God. In relation to our goal of being with the Lord in heaven, we know that we cannot save ourselves. By this admission, we are put in a position of great lowliness. From this point of view, we look up to Him, and rightly say, “Let God be exalted!”
Reflecting on that sentiment, it further highlights David’s prayer that his enemies be disappointed and humiliated. They need to reject their sense of pride. They have no justification for being proud. In the end, such qualities only result in them being rejected by God. In contrast to that, we who are godly through Christ already know our weak state, and follow in the way of a far more powerful God.
But I am poor and needy. Come to me quickly, God. You are my help and my deliverer. Yahweh, don’t delay.Psalm 70:5
As we approach the close of our text, King David turns back to himself. While verses 2 and 3 were about the ungodly, and verse 4 was encouragement to those who love God, this verse comes to a singular person again. The Psalmist has come full circle.
He is poor and needy. Although he has been given great power, he also knows his position before God. He repeats his plea for the Almighty to come quickly. Again he says, “Yahweh, don’t delay.”
He knows that God is his help and deliverer.
I’m sure that He came at the right time for David; for many accounts in the Bible speak of God’s faithfulness toward him. If we cry out to the Lord in humility, I trust that He’ll do the same for us today. Don’t lose heart. He will come and deliver according to His power and will. Trust Him.
Silhouette of a Man Praying by waldryano from Pixabay.