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This psalm is a continuation of the line we follow from Psalm 61. It deals with the faithful remnant’s exercises of faith, their troubles and tribulations by enemies outside and within, and God’s answer to their prayer and complaint.
The psalmist – and prophetically the faithful remnant – is still threatened by evildoers and those who do injustice (Psa 64:2). They are constantly attacking him. Then God intervenes by the appearance of Christ (Psa 64:7). As a result, the whole earth will fear God and the faithful will rejoice (Psa 64:9-10).
Historically, the psalm is difficult to trace back to an event in David’s life. Because of the order of the psalms, it is probably in the time of Absalom’s rebellion. In any case, as a prophet, David is writing about the prayer of the remnant in their distress and its answer through the appearance of Christ. After the appearance of Christ, it is appropriate that the name “LORD”, Yahweh, is used again (Psa 64:10) instead of the “God”, Elohim, characteristic for the second book of psalms.
The core of this psalm is the pride and perceived success of the wicked evildoers. But “pride goes before destruction” (Pro 16:18). They laid on their arrow and began to shoot (Psa 64:3-4). At that moment God hits them with an arrow (Psa 64:7). Then it will be the end of their story, over and out.
Prayer for Preservation
For “for the choir director” (Psa 64:1a) see at Psalm 4:1.
For “a Psalm of David” see at Psalm 3:1.
David explicitly asks God to hear his voice when he complains (Psa 64:1b). That is, he speaks aloud to God. It is not a ‘groaning’ of pain, but ‘complaining’ in the sense of ‘putting into words’ his problem. He complains because he is struggling as a result of the enemy’s threat to his life.
Dread is literally ‘fear’. He knows that the enemy is capable of killing him, but he also knows that God is capable of preserving him. Therefore, he asks God to preserve him. There is no one else to whom he can or would appeal. Only God can provide the preservation he needs against the advancing enemy.
He asks God for preservation by hiding him from the secret counsel devised against him by evildoers (Psa 64:2; cf. Jer 36:26). The evildoers counsel in the deepest secret. David is aware of this through his dealings with God. If He hides him, they will not be able to carry out their counsel.
In the same way, satan’s thoughts “are not unknown to us” (2Cor 2:10b-11). We know how he operates and do not need to be surprised by him. God has provided us with His armor to put it on (Eph 6:14-18). Then we are hidden from the attacks of the enemy, and the fiery arrows he shoots at us cannot hit us. God’s Word and trust in Him can keep us from satan carrying out his secret counsel against us.
David is not besieged by just one enemy, but there is “the tumult of those who do iniquity”. In addition to the nature of the enmity, the hatred that the enemy has, the number of enemies is also impressive. Nor do they come at him quietly, but as a ‘tumultuous’ mob. It is an uncontrolled outburst of enmity. The entire crowd is made up of people “who do iniquity”. A more threatening situation can hardly be imagined. Only God has the power to stop this riotous mob in their evil intent.
The Work of the Enemy
In these verses David substantiates his complaint. He tells God in detail how the rioting mob proceeds to put him to death. He begins with the lethal effect of their speaking (Psa 64:3). Before they actually kill him, they first conduct a smear campaign against him to kill him spiritually. Then he no longer has the strength to resist physically. He compares the words of the enemies to a sword and an arrow (cf. Pro 25:18). They are weapons that destroy and pierce.
He compares the tongue to a sword (cf. Psa 55:21; Psa 57:4; Psa 59:7). Their tongue is sharpened like a sword. The words they speak are sharp and cut deep into his soul. Their speech, all of what they say, is like a poisonous arrow that penetrates deep into the body. Their arrow is dipped in bitterness. They bend their bows to shoot their arrow, aim accurately at the target, and then shoot it.
So many people are bitter at believers because they point them to the will of God whereas they don’t want to know about that at all. God is blamed for all affliction, while they ignore the fact that they themselves are to blame for the affliction they are in. They shoot their bitter words like arrows at the believers, and therefore at God and Christ. This is what the believing remnant will experience in the end time.
These arrows were shot at the Lord Jesus. He has experienced the hate of the world because He “testified of it that its deeds are evil” (Jn 7:7b). Such an arrow they use when they say to Him: “We were not born of fornication” (Jn 8:41), alluding in veiled terms to the fact that He was. Another arrow is when they say to Him: “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” (Jn 8:48b).
Think also of the trick questions they asked the Lord Jesus, the accusations of Him before the high priest and before Pilate, and finally the libel words when He hung on the cross. These bitter arrows they shot at the Lord. These arrows are all the more painful because they have been fired not only by the unbelieving world, but especially by the religious world. It can also happen to believers that these bitter arrows are shot by fellow Christians. These arrows penetrate extra deeply.
The Jewish remnant will especially have to deal with the arrows coming from the antichrist and his followers. The beast of the restored Roman Empire, the united Europe, and the hostile nations surrounding them and to which they have fled will not fail to do so either. All will fire these arrows at them.
These perpetrators of iniquity also act in a sneaky manner. They “shoot from concealment” (Psa 64:4). They are in darkness. There they feel secure. Their ambush is an excellent position to shoot “at the blameless”. They do so “suddenly”, without any fear of God or men present in them. “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Rom 3:18; Psa 36:1b).
The cause for which they are making a stand is “an evil purpose” (Psa 64:5), which is how David intermediately assesses their plans and their execution. He knows that they agree “laying snares secretly”. Thus the enemies encourage each other to carry out their unjust deeds. In doing so, they are so audacious and short-sighted as to assume that no one will see their traps. Above all, they believe that God does not see them: “He has hidden His face; He will never see it” (Psa 10:11b). They think they can sin without being discovered.
They “device injustices” (Psa 64:6) in order to find something they can use against him to achieve their criminal ends. For this they exert themselves to the utmost. They have devised the perfect crime, which they are convinced will not be discovered and will definitely succeed. With David it is the conspiracy of Absalom. With the remnant, it is the antichrist’s plan to wipe them out (Rev 13:15). With the Lord Jesus, it is the conspiracy to kill Him (Jn 11:53).
It doesn’t matter where it comes from, as long as it works for their benefit. Even if it comes from the “the inward thought and the heart” of the most depraved person, it will be accepted with devilish delight if it can render their plan feasible. The heart is a deep abyss full of iniquity.
Literally it says: “Yea, the inward part of a man and the heart is deep.” It means something like: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9). The wicked and criminal heart of man is extremely creative and resourceful. But one thing is forgotten and that is that he is dealing with a God of Whom it is said: “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Heb 4:13).
Judgment on the Enemy
As suddenly as they thought to strike the righteous (Psa 64:4), as suddenly God strikes them (Psa 64:7). God comes to David’s aid by a sudden act of judgment on the enemies. They used an arrow to shoot at the upright (Psa 64:3); God also uses an arrow to shoot at the wicked.
The arrow of the enemy was their bitter word; the arrow of God is His decision to send the Son (Psa 2:7). The Son is the Word; His weapon is the word from His mouth (Rev 19:15). That arrow will wound them with wounds that will silence them forever. Then every mouth will be stopped (Rom 3:19).
Their tongue, which is the weapon by which they attack the God-fearing (Psa 64:3), will be the instrument by which they will stumble (Psa 64:8). The word they use against the remnant will return to them like a boomerang, as the Lord Jesus says in a parable: “By your own words I will judge you, you worthless slave” (Lk 19:22).
That is, God will expose them as liars and will judge them according to the lies they have proclaimed about His anointed. They will be judged according to the words they have spoken (Mt 12:37b). God’s judgment comes on “all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him. These are grumblers, finding fault” (Jude 1:15b-16). These are the embittered people who blame God for their affliction.
When God stands up for His own, all men, friend and foe, will fear (Psa 64:9). His judgment on evil awakens in all people awe of Him Who has all power and is righteous in His judgment. It has always seemed that God paid no attention to the needs of His own and that evil could continue undisturbed. But then it turns out that God only waited for the right time to judge the evil in His holy righteousness and to deliver His own from the evil one. He maintains His righteousness and will make that clear to everyone in His own time.
It is the great victory for faith and to the glorification of God when God is trusted to be in control of everything, while He seems to be absent. Then when God actually acts, it will cause all those who fear to proclaim God’s work. God’s work is the judgment that He has exercised. [There is a play on words here: God’s work (Psa 64:9) will nullify the workers (those who do) of iniquity (Psa 64:2).] They will declare and consider “what He has done” (cf. 1Pet 2:12).
When judgment has come upon the enemies, “the righteous man will be glad in the LORD”, for He has taken care of him (cf. Rev 19:1-4). The verb form is such that you can say: The righteous man will be glad in the LORD because judgment has come upon the enemies. Then it is also an encouragement to believers who are still in the midst of the tribulation. After all, when judgment has come on the enemies, you no longer need to take refuge, because the danger is no longer there. Therefore, it is not only a joy after the fact, but a joy that is independent of the trial and that precedes salvation.
It is also possible to translate this way: “Let the righteous man be glad in the LORD.” Then it is a call, despite the fact that the enemies are still there. In this regard, Paul and Silas in prison are a wonderful example of this. They are glad in the Lord before salvation came (Acts 16:19-26).
When God judges evil, this causes gladness in the righteous, who have suffered greatly at the sight of all the injustice that apparently could be done undisturbed. Then it will be said that there is a God Who does justice on earth (Psa 58:11). It is a new exhortation to resort to Him, for He stands up for His own and judges those who would do harm to His own.
“All the upright in heart will glory” that they have such a God as God. The God Who is righteous is completely reliable in all His features. In Him we can put our hope, with Him we are safe, through Him we will reach the goal of our life’s journey: we will be with Him. Of all this we can be sure because He is righteous. Therefore we glory in God (1Cor 1:30-31).
‘To glory’ is equivalent to ‘to be glad’. This indicates that their lamentation song (Psa 64:1b) will turn into a song of praise. The next two psalms display a song of praise.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 64". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13