John Calvin sets the stage:
How bitter David’s sorrow was under the conspiracy of his own household against him, which arose from the treachery of his own son, it is easy for every one of us to conjecture from the feelings of nature. And when, in addition to this, he knew that this disaster was brought upon him by God for his own fault in having defiled another man’s wife, and for shedding innocent blood, he might have sunk into despair, and been overwhelmed with anguish, if he had not been encouraged by the promise of God, and thus hoped for life even in death. From his making no allusion here to his sins, we are led to infer, that only one part of his prayers is comprised in this psalm; for as God punished him expressly on account of his adultery, and his wicked treachery towards Uriah, there can be no doubt that he was at first distressed with grievous and dreadful torments of mind. But after he had humbled himself before God, he took courage; and being well assured of having obtained forgiveness, he was fully persuaded that God was on his side, and knew that he would always preside over his kingdom, and show himself its protector. But he, nevertheless, complained of his son, and of the whole faction involved in the conspiracy, because he knew that they wickedly rose up for the purpose of frustrating the decree of God. In like manner, if at any time God makes use of wicked and mischievous men, as scourges to chastise us, it becomes us first diligently to consider the cause, namely, that we suffer nothing which we have not deserved, in order that this reflection may lead us to repentance. But if our enemies, In persecuting us, rather fight against God than against us, let the consideration of their doing so be immediately followed by the confident persuasion of our safety under the protection of him, whose grace, which he hath promised to us, they despise and trample under foot.
Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol. 8: Psalms
A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.
O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
many are saying of me,
there is no help for him in God. Selah
Thoughtless people often view persecution as a sign of God’s abandonment rather than as a chastisement of a beloved child. We are so quick to declare ourselves blameless when suffering cruelty from our foes. We are never blameless, but we may yet be found by God to be in the right within context of the specific situation.
But thou, O Lord, art a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cry aloud to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy hill. Selah
This may well be an example of David’s complete confidence as one of God’s elect. He has sinned terribly and with malice aforethought. He has tried to hide his shameful acts from men. But God, by exposing his evil and dispensing terrible punishment has driven David into true repentance. There he has found God’s forgiveness even while continuing to suffer under the lash of His punishment.
I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, for the Lord sustains me.
I am not afraid of ten thousands of people
who have set themselves against me round about.
And so, in spite of the terrors that surround him David yet sleeps in the peace that can only come from confidence in God’s protection. When awake David is not dominated by fear, but trusts in God’s providential purposes.
Arise, O Lord!
Deliver me, O my God!
For thou dost smite all my enemies on the cheek,
thou dost break the teeth of the wicked.
It is a terrible thing for the elect to yet sin against God. It is a wicked thing to set your face against God and His chosen, seeking their destruction. In some cases the wicked come to destruction in this life. In all cases their destruction is complete in the next.
We have been trained by contemporary philosophy to deny the existence of wickedness. By succumbing to this lie we allow wickedness to grow in power and spread in scope. We also are blinded to the places within ourselves where wickedness holds sway.
Deliverance belongs to the Lord;
thy blessing be upon thy people! Selah
When under siege in this life we may fall or we may prevail. But our deliverance is sure are we to be found in Christ.