May 16 2023
Today, Tuesday May 16
The Best Teacher
To the Chief Musician. With stringed instruments. A Contemplation of David when the Ziphites went and said to Saul, ‘Is David not hiding with us?’
“Save me, O God, by Your name, And vindicate me by Your strength. Hear my prayer, O God; Give ear to the words of my mouth. For strangers have risen up against me, And oppressors have sought after my life; They have not set God before them. Selah
Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is with those who uphold my life.
He will repay my enemies for their evil. Cut them off in Your truth. I will freely sacrifice to You; I will praise Your name, O LORD, for it is good. For He has delivered me out of all trouble; And my eye has seen its desire upon my enemies.”
You might have heard the saying, “The best teacher is experience”. No doubt in some ways this is true but honestly it is possible that an experience might get you killed, and you won’t live to learn from it. I’ve concluded over the years that the best teacher is the Word of God! God in His Word teaches how to live and how to respond to the trials and suffering we might have to face in life. In His Word we also can learn from the experience of others. From Psalm 54 we can learn how to respond to the pain of betrayal of those we had hoped would help us in our time trouble.
David was fleeing for his life from Saul and had been betrayed by the Ziphites, who were from the same tribe as he was, the tribe of Judah. You can read about how they betrayed David two different times in 1 Samuel 23:19-23 and 1 Samuel 26:1-4. Once was bad enough, but twice must have really hurt! What can we learn from David’s experience?
David was the rightful king of Israel, and the future of the nation and the dynasty lay with him. This included the promise of Messiah, who would come from David's line (2 Sam. 7). "Save me, O God, by your name" means "on the basis of your character," especially His strength (v. 1) and faithfulness (v. 5). We need to remember Psalm 9:10: “And those who know Your name put their trust in You. For you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.” David promised to praise God's name after the great victory (v. 6). He used three different names of God in this brief psalm: Elohim (vv. 1, 2, 3, 4), Adonai (Lord, v. 4), and Jehovah (Lord, v. 6). "Hear my prayer" (v. 2) is a favorite approach with David (Psalms 4:1; 39:12; 143:1).
"Strangers" (v. 3) doesn't suggest that his enemies were Gentiles. It can describe anybody who has turned his or her back on someone, which the Ziphites certainly did to David, their king. Why did they do it? Because they disregarded the Lord and His will for the nation of Israel. Unlike David (Ps. 16:8), “they did not set God before them” (v. 3).
David puts his confidence in the Lord (v. 4). This is the central verse of the psalm, and it records the turning point in David's experience. The word translated "help" or "helper" is related to "Ebenezer" in 1 Samuel 7:12, "Thus far the Lord has helped us" and is a word David often used in his prayers (Psalms 10:14; 30:10; 33:20; 79:9; 86:17; 115:9-11). It's worth noting that Jonathan visited David about this time, and the Lord used him to encourage His servant (1 Sam. 23:16-18). The Lord doesn't always send angels to encourage us; sometimes He uses other believers to minister to us (see Acts 9:26-28; 11:19-26). Every Christian ought to be a Barnabas, a "son of encouragement."
David concludes this prayer by praising the LORD (vv. 5-7). Twice David had opportunity to slay Saul but refrained from doing so, for He knew that God would one day deal with the rebellious king (see 1 Sam. 26:8-11). "He will pay back evil to my enemies" (v. 5). (Also see Psalms 7:15-16, 35:7-8, Prov. 26:27, 28:10, 29:6.)
David was away from the sanctuary, but he lifted his voice in praise to God, and his words were like a freewill offering to the Lord (Heb. 13:15). In verses 1-6, David spoke directly to the Lord, but in verse 7, he spoke to those around him and gave witness to the blessing of the Lord. His words revealed his faith, for he spoke of his deliverance as already completed as he looked calmly at his enemies (Psalms 22:17; 59:10; 92:11; 118:7).
David had more suffering and peril to experience before he would ascend the throne, but he was confident that the Lord would see him through—and He did! And the LORD will see us through too if we know His name and put our trust in Him! Today, let us learn from the “Best Teacher”.