Ruthless witnesses come forward;
they question me on things I know nothing about.
12 They repay me evil for good
and leave me like one bereaved.
13 Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth
and humbled myself with fasting.
When my prayers returned to me unanswered,
14 I went about mourning
as though for my friend or brother.
I bowed my head in grief
as though weeping for my mother.
15 But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee;
assailants gathered against me without my knowledge.
They slandered me without ceasing.
16 Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked;
they gnashed their teeth at me.
17 How long, Lord, will you look on?
Rescue me from their ravages,
my precious life from these lions.
18 I will give you thanks in the great assembly;
among the throngs I will praise you.
If, as we saw yesterday, ‘you reap what you sow’ is an oft-repeated Biblical principle, the question, ‘How long?’ Is also a bit of a recurring theme. We must learn to not only wait on the Lord, but also to wait for Him. The prayer battle may be long and hard, but faith is confident of there being light at the end of the tunnel (18). It does not, however, deny the length of the tunnel, nor the thick darkness within it.
I am challenged by David’s compassion for the sick, and the personal price he was prepared to pay in order to intercede for their healing (13,14). He cared very much. Someone made the point that it is as if the Good Samaritan himself fell among thieves, only to find the one he formerly helped now being his chief tormentor.
It is right always to do unto others as you would have them do to you. But they don’t always treat you in kind! Thoughtless ways are one thing though; but to deliberately mistreat someone who has only been good to you is quite another. Sadly, it happens. It has happened throughout history; it still happens today. It goes on in churches – even among those who claim to be the people of God. The way some people behave, it’s quite possible to feel savaged by their teeth (12), and mauled by their behaviour. It’s hard to have lies told about you, and to have those untruths believed. (On verses 11,12, see 1 Sam.24:9,17).
‘This is the sad heart of the psalm: to find that people who were considered friends are the source of false report, gloat over misfortune and seethe with hatred.’ (Alec Motyer, ‘New Bible Commentary’, p.508).
It is possible to feel “bereaved” (12) without losing anyone. Loss can come in many forms, and at this time in his life David had lost so much.
But again, he points the way to navigate such circumstances. He does not take matters into his own hands, but entrusts His cause to God. He knows the Lord will intervene on his behalf (17a). What he doesn’t know is when.
PRAYER: Lord, in this time of waiting, let me not lose heart. Put within me the conviction that all will be well – in your way and time