Hear, O LORD, my righteous plea; listen to my cry. Give ear to my prayer- it does not rise from deceitful lips.
May my vindication come from you; may your eyes see what is right. Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.
As for the deeds of men- by the word of your lips I have kept myself from the ways of the violent. My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not slipped. I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.
Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who assail me, from my mortal enemies who surround me. They close up their callous hearts, and their mouths speak with arrogance. They have tracked me down, they now surround me, with eyes alert, to throw me to the ground. They are like a lion hungry for prey, like a great lion crouching in cover.
Rise up, O LORD, confront them, bring them down; rescue me from the wicked by your sword. O LORD, by your hand save me from such men, from men of this world whose reward is in this life. You still the hunger of those you cherish; their sons have plenty, and they store up wealth for their children. And I-in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.
David’s life wasn’t all that different from our own. As a believer on a mission from God, he was surrounded by enemies and needed constant reminders that he would be taken care of; that he would prevail over those dedicated to his defeat.
The biggest difference is that David’s enemies were physical, tangible beings with swords and spears while ours are often spiritual, invisible beings who work through others and whose weapons are words and feelings like anger, jealousy or prejudice.
But from this Psalm we can see that the defense is the same. Stay clean and pure from sin, and call on the Name of the Lord. David, being a man on the run, couldn’t stop everything and rush to the Tabernacle to sacrifice a lamb every time he sinned, so the Lord must have taught him how to ask for forgiveness the way we do. That’s probably how he knew to write in Psalm 51:16-17;
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Somehow David learned that God is more interested in our internal motivation than in our external actions. With Him it’s always been a matter of the heart. Having confessed and being restored to righteousness, David was able to ask God to protect and defend him, just as we are. And having poured out his heart, David received the assurance he needed even as he prayed. In his final thought before going to sleep, David showed that he knew God had heard him and would handle things, and that when he awoke he would be satisfied. And I-in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.
“I cast all my cares upon You,” the song goes. “I lay all of my burdens down at Your feet. And anytime I don’t know what else to do, I cast all my cares upon You.” Great advice. It worked for David, and it works for us.