God's Protection from Enemies--Psalm 28
The composer of Psalm 28 beseeches Yahweh to protect him from dangerous, malicious enemies. All godly people encounter evil people who attempt to destroy their reputation, their character, their very lives. The prayer in Psalm 28 is very helpful for godly people. This psalm naturally falls into three parts:
I. The worshipper implores Yahweh to answer his cry. Psalm 28:1-2.
a. The psalmist begins abruptly, "I call to YOU," O Lord. He calls Yahweh "MY ROCK," a very common term for Yahweh's protection and support. See e. g., Deuteronomy 32:4, 15, 18; Psalms 18:2, 31; 144:2; 1 Samuel 2:2. The poet beseeches Yahweh not to "refuse to hear" him and his cry. He says that if Yahweh is "silent" by not responding to his prayer, he will go down to the Pit, to Sheol, the grave. 28:1.
b. The psalmist repeats his desperate cry, and states that he needs Yahweh's "help." Using the common practice of prayer, the psalmist "lifts up his hands" to seek Yahweh's response at the sanctuary, the Jerusalem temple. On this important practice in prayer, see e. g., Psalm 141:2; Lamentations 3:41; 1 Timothy 2:8.
II. The worshipper asks Yahweh to repay his enemies according to their wicked deeds. Psalm 28:3-5.
a. God often assures his faithful people that he will punish the wicked. Exodus 34:6-7; Romans 2:1-11. First the psalmist describes the practices of the wicked. They are workers of evil. They speak peace with their neighbors, but mischief is in their hearts. Wicked people normally use gentle, smooth speech to deceive innocent people in order to harm them in any way possible. A great example of this practice is in Psalm 55:20-21:
My companion laid hands on a friend
and violated a covenant with me
with SPEECH SMOOTHER THAN BUTTER,
but with a HEART SET ON WAR;
with WORDS that were SOFTER THAN OIL,
but IN FACT WERE DRAWN SWORDS.
It is so unfortunately that many WOULD BE CHRISTIANS speak one way and live another. Psalm 28:3 deals with the very same problem:
They SPEAK PEACE with their neighbors,
while MISCHIEF is in their HEARTS. 28:3.
b. Accordingly, the poet implores Yahweh to repay the wicked according to their work, their evil deeds. God in his own way doles out retribution on the wicked. 28:4-5.
III. The worshipper rejoices that Yahweh answers his prayers. Psalm 28:6-9.
a. Apparently, since the psalmist uttered his prayer in verses 1-5, Yahweh has somehow answered his pleas. Thus he praises Yahweh that he is his STRENGTH and SHIELD. The word "shield" is a common metaphor in the Bible symbolizing protection. Thus, the poet "trusts in" Yahweh. Naturally he "gives thanks to" him. Unfortunately, we often fail to stop and thank Yahweh for all the ways he blesses us in so many ways. 28:6-7.
b. The psalmist repeats in verse 7 that Yahweh is his STRENGTH, and then declares that Yahweh is his REFUGE, another common term for protection. Yahweh blesses not only the psalmist, but Yahweh's people and Yahweh's "anointed one," the earthly king. 28:8.
c. The composer concludes by asking Yahweh to help his people in FOUR ways:
1. Save your people.
2. Bless your heritage, your people.
3. Be their shepherd. The Bible often compares God with a shepherd, and we are the sheep. See e. g., Psalms 95:7; 100:3.
4. Carry his people forever. Like a shepherd often carries his sheep in his arms, Yahweh carries his people when they are weary, lame, or lost. For this picture, see Isaiah 40:11.
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