Scriptures

Psalm 140

Introduction

In this psalm, David asks God to deliver him from his enemies and he asks God to bring judgment upon all those who persecuting God’s people.

Heading

‘For the director of music. A psalm of David.’

Although the headings aren’t inspired by God, they are important because they give us some understanding about the Psalm and they help us to see why it was written. The headings usually tell us four things.

1. Who wrote them, probably wrote them or possibly wrote them.

2. Information about the historical background to the Psalm. Why it was written.

3. They tell us of the tune the Psalm was written to.

4. How it was used.

The heading tells us that this psalm of David for the director of music. Some commentators believe that ‘director or music’ is God Himself and others believe that it is a song leader who led choirs or musicians, 1 Chronicles 6:33 / 1 Chronicles 16:17 / 1 Chronicles 25:6. Psalms 138-145 are all accredited to David.

‘Rescue me, LORD, from evildoers; protect me from the violent, who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day. They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s; the poison of vipers is on their lips. Keep me safe, LORD, from the hands of the wicked; protect me from the violent, who devise ways to trip my feet. The arrogant have hidden a snare for me; they have spread out the cords of their net and have set traps for me along my path.’ Psalm 140:1-5

David begins by asking God to deliver him from evildoers, those who are violent and those who devise plans to stir up war. In other words, these evildoers had evil in their hearts and were trying to start a war, Matthew 15:19, and David wants God to protect him from such evil.

David’s enemies are described as having tongues, as sharp a serpent, the poison of vipers are on their lips. In other words, David feels the sting and poison which came from their words. In the New Testament, when the apostle Paul is describing the sinfulness of man, he quotes these words in Romans 3:13.

You may notice at the end of verse three, some translations have the word, ‘selah’, although no-one really knows what this word means, it’s likely it means to pause. It’s a time to stop and reflect upon what has just been said.

We can almost imagine David pausing for a breath as he contemplates, the sinfulness of his enemies.

David again repeats his plea to God to keep him safe from those who are wicked, violent, those who devise ways to trip him up. It’s clear the arrogant tried to trip David up as they set hidden snares, they spread out nets and they set up traps for him.

In other words, they tried everything possible to ensure David but notice that David sees all their traps, he’s aware of all devices.

You may notice at the end of verse five, some translations have the word, ‘selah’, although no-one really knows what this word means, it’s likely it means to pause. It’s a time to stop and reflect upon what has just been said.

We can almost imagine David pausing for a breath as he contemplates how God will keep him safe from all these snares which have been placed by the arrogant.

‘I say to the LORD, “You are my God.” Hear, LORD, my cry for mercy. Sovereign LORD, my strong deliverer, you shield my head in the day of battle. Do not grant the wicked their desires, LORD; do not let their plans succeed. Those who surround me proudly rear their heads; may the mischief of their lips engulf them. May burning coals fall on them; may they be thrown into the fire, into miry pits, never to rise. May slanderers not be established in the land; may disaster hunt down the violent.’ Psalm 140:6-11

Despite all the traps set by those evildoers, David continues to trust in God, and he openly confesses that God is his God. This gives David confidence that God would hear his cry for mercy.

He acknowledges that the LORD is sovereign, He is David’s strong deliverer and shield in the day of battle. In other words, God was his strength and God is his salvation.

Because God had previously shielded, that is, protected, David in times of battle in the past, he called upon God to protect him once again, 1 Kings 10:25 / Ezekiel 39:9-10.

He asks God that his enemies desires and plans fail, that is, he’s asking God to work with His people and go against the wicked. He’s asking God not to allow the wicked to go without punishment.

You may notice at the end of verse eight, some translations have the word, ‘selah’, although no-one really knows what this word means, it’s likely it means to pause. It’s a time to stop and reflect upon what has just been said.

We can almost imagine David pausing for a breath as he contemplates the outcome of the wicked.

David feels like he’s being surrounded by his enemy, those who proudly rear their heads. Some commentators suggest this is speaking about Doeg, who was not only a violent man but also gave a false report about David, 1 Samuel 21-22. Other commentators suggest this may be speaking about Saul and his violence towards David, 1 Samuel 24:1-7 / 1 Samuel 26:7-11.

David asks that the mischief of these proud people’s lips engulf them, that is, he prays that will receive the evil they had spoken against him.

David asks that burning coal fall on them as they had poured out burning coal on others. This reminds us of Sodom and Gomorrah, they suffered total destruction because of their wickedness. In other words, he prays that they will reap what they sow, Galatians 6:7-8.

David wants them to thrown into the fire, that is, he wants them to be punished and he wants them to be thrown down into miry pits and never rise again, that is, he wants them to be thrown into a deep pit with no way out, he wants them to be totally gone, Genesis 37:20 / Genesis 37:24 / Psalm 9:15 / Psalm 35:7 / Jeremiah 41:7.

David asks that the slanderers have no place in the land, this is because of the influence they have on others, James 3:2-12. He also asks that disaster hunt down the violent, in other words, he wants those violent people who were hunting him down, to become the hunted, he prays that they will reap what they sow, Galatians 6:7-8.

‘I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy. Surely the righteous will praise your name, and the upright will live in your presence.’ Psalm 140:12-13

David is confident that the LORD will secure justice for those who are vulnerable in society. God would defend them and protect them from all the injustices they were facing from those were using slanderous words to persecute them.

He declares that the righteous will praise God’s Name because God will help His people, Psalm 9:18 / Psalm 10:2 / Psalm 18:27 / Psalm 22:24. The righteous and upright will have the security and blessing of living in the presence of God.

Conclusion

David in his psalm asked God that burning coals fall upon his enemies in reference to their destruction. When we turn to the New Testament, we see the use of burning coal used in a positive sense.

The apostle Paul teaches us, that not only are we to refrain from vengeance, Romans 12:17-19, but are to take a positive action for the good welfare of our enemies, and so, returning good for evil, Romans 12:20-21.

Paul then tells us that when we treat our enemies right, then ‘you will heap burning coals on his head’, this is quoted from Proverbs 25:21-22. This is a figure of speech showing strong, positive results.

It will fill them with shame and remorse and melt down their enmity. As the old saying says, ‘the best way to get rid of enemies is to make friends out of them.’

Paul writes to Christians and says, ‘do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good’, which is the Christian way of dealing with our enemies.

The Christian always does right, and never permits the actions of others to determine their own actions. If the Christian seeks with their own hands to take vengeance, they, themselves, become evil, which is disobedience to God.

However, if the Christian does good to their enemy, it is the greatest of all ways to overcome evil, that’s obeying God. The Christian does not overcome evil by doing evil, the principle of doing good for evil is the basic principle by which we live and it’s the fundamental virtue of a follower of Christ.

Go To Psalm 141

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

Matthew 11:28

MENU