Make haste, O God, to deliver me!
O Lord, make haste to help me!
Let them be put to shame and confusion
who seek my life!
Let them be turned back and brought to dishonor
who delight in my hurt!
Let them turn back because of their shame
who say, “Aha, Aha!”
May all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you!
May those who love your salvation
say evermore, “God is great!”
But I am poor and needy;
hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O Lord, do not delay!
– Psalm 70
Psalm 70 is almost verbatim of what David spoke in Psalm 40:13-17. There are differences, though slight. Here, in Psalm 70, it is as if the goal was to make this section of Psalm 40 a distinct composition that would stand on its own (although some also believe that originally, Psalm 40 may have been two distinct compositions). Why Psalm 70? Quite possibly to stress the urgency of the psalmist’s plight and highlight the need for God to hurry to his defense.
David’s need is urgent. He wastes no time in his plea for help!
In fact, opening the cry for help in Hebrew, David’s use of words is even more direct than most of our English translations (which add “make haste”).
The Hebrew simply says…
“God, deliver me. Hurry to help me, LORD!”
David is apparently in great trouble (though we do not have many details). He is calling on God to help him quickly before it is too late.
As I said earlier in the blog, David seems to always be dealing with enemies (and them mocking him). It’s no different here in Psalm 70.
David reigned powerfully as King. David was blessed by God, approved by God, called by God as “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Sam 13:14). Nearly always walking closely with God in close fellowship, yet almost always running for his life.
Note to self: the path of a pilgrim will often be a dangerous one, but almost always will be a desperate one. Our state of desperation maintains our position of absolute reliance on our Great Shepherd!
David’s prayer, Psalm 70, is: for himself (for a quick deliverance); for his enemies (for their shame and confusion of their plans); and for the righteous (for their delight to be found in God to the point of them knowing and saying that God is great!).
- For himself. David gets to the point. He doesn’t go through the forms of prayer that we often read about (for example: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication). Here in Psalm 70, David gets right to the need at hand–help me! Martin Luther didn’t skip over this psalm (many commentaries do since they cover the same words earlier in Psalm 40). His comments span 10 pages on Psalm 70. Luther says at one point, “This prayer is the shield, spear, thunderbolt and defense against every attack of fear, presumption [and] lukewarmness … which are especially dominant today.” Luther identified with David’s urgent plea.
- For his enemies. Praying for our enemies, like David did, is something we shy away from. Certainly David’s prayers contradict the way that Jesus taught us to pray for our enemies, right? David prays that those who are seeking his life are put to shame, that their plans are confused, that they might be turned back. David is simply asking that evil plans be frustrated. That evil itself is turned back. Aren’t these prayers, in the end, asking that God would break these evil men down? To humble them? To bring ruin to their pride, which is blinding them to see His greatness? James Montgomery Boice says, “The kindest thing we can pray for people who do wrong is that their plans will fail, for it may be that in their frustration they will see the folly and true end of evil and be reached for God.”
- For the righteous. As David quickly prays for the righteous, he seems to get to one of the most important aspects of God’s people living in trials and difficulties. He doesn’t waste his words on good health or a better life, spends no time asking for the extraneous. David cuts to the chase: May we seek him! May we rejoice in Him! May we be glad in Him! May we say, “God is great.” Whether we are surrounded by enemies, trials, problems, pain, suffering, or mess after mess — David cuts to the chase. Notice he does not command the righteous to suck it up and seek, rejoice, be glad, or declare that God is great. He prays that God would work these things in those who love God’s salvation. David knows that when we are outnumbered, we need God to work in us, not just for us.
In the end, real victory is not when we escape our troubles (since that may not always come), but that we can stand in the fierce storm and still declare that God is great!