Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint;
protect my life from the threat of the enemy.
Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked,
from the plots of evildoers.
They sharpen their tongues like swords
and aim cruel words like deadly arrows.
They shoot from ambush at the innocent;
they shoot suddenly, without fear.
They encourage each other in evil plans,
they talk about hiding their snares;
they say, “Who will see it?”
They plot injustice and say,
“We have devised a perfect plan!”
Surely the human mind and heart are cunning.
But God will shoot them with his arrows;
they will suddenly be struck down.
He will turn their own tongues against them
and bring them to ruin;
all who see them will shake their heads in scorn.
All people will fear;
they will proclaim the works of God
and ponder what he has done.
The righteous will rejoice in the LORD
and take refuge in him;
all the upright in heart will glory in him!
David voices his complaints against his enemies yet again in his psalm. If the theme seems repetitious, it is because he continually faced their attacks. Jesus also faced similar attacks throughout his life from his enemies, notably the religious authorities of his time. The imagery David uses in this psalm to describe the tactics of his enemies describes Jesus’s enemies too. And perhaps ours.
“They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows,” David sings. “They encourage each other in evil plans, they talk about hiding their snares; they say, “Who will see it?” The Pharisees, known for their self-righteousness and legalistic approach to religious matters, often schemed and conspired against Jesus. They sought to undermine his teachings and plotted to have him arrested and ultimately put to death.
While David cried out to God for justice and deliverance from his enemies, Jesus confronted the Pharisees, denouncing them for their hypocrisy and wicked ways. In a scathing diatribe that you will find in Matthew 23, Jesus rebukes them and their oppressive religious system. He called them out for their outward show of piety while inwardly, they were anything but pious.
If we are not careful, we can end up like the Pharisees without realizing it. How can we prevent this from happening? There are four things we should guard against.
We should guard against legalism and externalism. We can become overly focused on outward appearances or religious practices while neglecting the deeper aspects of our relationship with God.
We should guard against self-righteousness. We can develop a sense of self-righteousness, thinking we are morally superior to others or judging them harshly without extending grace and mercy.
We should guard against hypocrisy. We can present a false image of ourselves, pretending to be more pious or moral than we truly are. This can hinder genuine growth and authenticity in our faith.
We should not neglect mercy and compassion: We can become indifferent or judgmental toward those who are hurting, marginalized, or different from us, failing to extend kindness and compassion.
How can we know if we are being like the Pharisees or the people David is talking about? Simple. Listen to things we say about others. Do we try to take people down with our words, or do we uplift them?
God bless you.