The Psalms: Encouragement When the Journey is Tough

Save me, O God, by your name;
    vindicate me by your might.
 Hear my prayer, O God;
    listen to the words of my mouth.

Arrogant foes are attacking me;
    ruthless people are trying to kill me—
    people without regard for God.

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Psalm 54

Psalms 52–54 all come from the earliest period in David’s life when he was a fugitive, on the run and hiding from Saul who was trying to track him down. Here, the reference in the title is to events recorded in 1 Samuel 23:14–28 where the Ziphites, among whom David was hiding, were happy to betray him and hand him over to his enemies.

In all of this (unlike Psalm 51!) David was not at fault, yet it didn’t prevent him from being threatened and his life being at risk. We can only begin to imagine what it felt like to be the innocent victim and yet to be hunted down as a criminal. 

No wonder David cries out to God to save him (v. 1). 1 Samuel tells us that Saul’s son Jonathan helped David to find strength in God and maybe verse 4 is the result of that. We need others to encourage us when the path on the journey of faith is rough and steep and we can be an encouragement to others when life is tough going.

Part of that encouragement is the reminder that evil is ultimately self-destructive – it loops back on those who commit it (v. 5). 

David wishes that those who slander him might be blown away. Although interestingly when David has the opportunity to do just that he shows the better way of mercy and spares Saul’s life (1 Samuel 24, Matthew 5:7, 44).

David anticipates that God will rescue him from danger and David’s response will be one of praising God in his words and his deeds. In verse 7 that anticipation is fulfilled.

The Psalm is a yet another reminder that to follow David’s God does not guarantee any immunity from suffering or hardship. When we are facing difficulties, we – like David – can bring them to God. In Christ we have the confidence that God is with us, that he can help us, that ultimately the powers of evil are defeated and that he will save us from our enemies of death and destruction.