Prayer, Deliverance, Righteousness, and God’s Care For Us
In this lesson, we will review Psalms 7 and 8. Our discussion will focus on the righteousness we associate with when we approach God in prayer. We will also consider the mindfulness of God towards humans, i.e., the special place we have with him.
This Psalm appears to refer to an incident where Saul was persecuting David because others were slandering him. This Psalm seems to be a prayer of deliverance from enemies and vindication from their lies.
Psalm 7:1–2 (NRSV) — O Lord my God, in you I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers, and deliver me, or like a lion they will tear me apart; they will drag me away, with no one to rescue.
The psalmist declares that God is his refuge. He then goes on to petition God to save him from his enemies.
Question: How do you respond in prayer when trouble surrounds you. Do you take refuge in God? If so, how? (Hint: don’t worry)
The psalmist proceeds to proclaim his innocence. He says that if he is guilty of the accusations, then let them destroy him—probably because he deserved it. His request for God’s deliverance seems to rely on his perceived innocence.
We may fall into the trap of guilt when we face similar situations and believe we are innocent. Therefore, we should be careful, and perhaps avoid, petitioning God based on our perceived innocence or worthiness. Instead, we might appeal to God’s love while at the same time opening up to him about our failures and shortcomings. The bottom line is that we deserve nothing from God based on our own merit.
Our righteousness is founded upon the righteousness of Jesus Christ. He has put us in right relations with God through His death, resurrection, and our faith in him. Therefore, when we approach God for help, we do not need to conjure a case for our righteousness or merit. Because of our righteousness in Christ, we can come to God as if we never sinned and boldly (but respectfully) make our petitions.
Therefore, do not look at yourself when you pray. Instead, stay covered by your faith in Jesus and the righteousness he provided you. Then you can go boldly to God and pray.
The psalmist then petitions God to act (judge) furiously (i.e., “in your anger”). He says, “Rise up” in verse 6. See Also Psalm 35:23 and 44:23. He symbolically pictures God as taking his throne of judgment over all people.
It seems reasonable that we would pray to God to vindicate us and judge our enemies—or at least deliver us from them.
Question: Should we pray to God to judge our enemies?
Psalm 7:8 (NRSV) — The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me.
Here the psalmist appeals to God to vindicate him based on his innocence (i.e., righteousness). He is confident that he does not deserve the persecution that he receives from his enemies. We, too, may feel that we are innocent and appeal to God to vindicate us. Sometimes we think we are persecuted unjustly.
However, the righteousness that we present to God should not be based on our own merit. Instead, we should appeal to God as his children. We approach God knowing that he loves us, wants to take care of us, etc. Our righteousness should be seen as being in Christ so that we can stand in confidence in prayer.
Question: How do you reconcile your perceived innocence with the fact we all are guilty of sin when we approach God in prayer?
Psalm 7:9 (NRSV) — O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous, you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God.
Ultimately, we want evil to end and righteousness to flourish. We want God to judge the wicked and exalt the righteous. We, of course, count ourselves with the righteous, but that may be flawed if we depend on our own righteousness or merit. Therefore, it is better to pray to God for vindication, deliverance, etc., based on his love and our righteousness through Christ.
Psalm 7:10 (NRSV) — God is my shield, who saves the upright in heart.
God protects us from our enemies. Note that the psalmist says that God saves the upright in heart. We must consider the basis of the upright heart. As discussed previously, if the upright heart is founded on one’s own sense of righteousness, then flaws may be found in the heart leading to the realization that one is not truly righteous. However, if the upright heart is founded on the righteousness of Jesus, then we can go boldly to God in prayer.
If we rely on our own righteousness or merit, we are vulnerable to disqualifying ourselves because we will always find sin in our hearts and minds. However, if we rely on the righteousness of Jesus Christ, then we can always stand boldly before God in prayer.
Psalm 7:11 (NRSV) — God is a righteous judge, and a God who has indignation every day.
The psalmist declares that God is a righteous judge and that he is angry and disgusted (expressed as an emotion) towards the wicked.
In verses 12-13, the psalmist expresses the fate of the wicked that do not repent. This reminds me of a passage from Romans.
Romans 1:18 (NRSV) — For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth.
Even the wicked can avoid the wrath of God, which is on all unrighteousness, simply by repenting.
In verses 14-16, the psalmist says that the wicked always think of ways to do evil and that their deeds will come back on them.
Psalm 7:17 (NRSV) — I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.
Thank God for his righteousness. Know that God is indeed the righteous judge and realize that sometimes it may appear that God is not being fair. Squash that thought and remind yourself that God is righteous even when we don’t understand how it manifests in our situations sometimes.
Some Lessons Learned
- Righteousness is critical when approaching God and relating to him
- Our perceived righteousness may fall short of the righteousness of God and affect the confidence we have in approaching him. Therefore, we should always look to Jesus as our righteousness.
- God does not commune with the ungodly, e.g., the unrighteous
- Our righteousness should not be based on our own merit but Jesus Christ
- God is a righteous judge
- We should praise God
The psalmist presents the sovereignty of God and his care for humans.
Psalm 8:1 (NRSV) — O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.
The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible uses the word “sovereign,” whereas other translations use “lord.” The meaning here is from a Hebrew word that means master or lord. Therefore, the psalmist is declaring The Lord as the master over all things.
The word “name” refers to one’s reputation, standing, or fame. So God’s fame or reputation is seen throughout the earth.
God has even established praise from the mouth of infants (see Matthew 21:16).
Psalm 8:3–5 (NRSV) — When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.
The word “God” comes from the Hebrew word, “Elohim,” which can refer to heavenly beings, or angels, in addition to Yahweh (YHWY). Therefore, “a little lower than God” can also be rendered “a little lower than the divine beings or angels.”
Why does God care about us so much? He has done so much for humans.
Psalm 8:6–8 (NRSV) — You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
Consider a passage from Genesis.
Genesis 1:26–28 (NKJV) — Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
God created humans to have dominion over his creation. Even after sin corrupted everything, He still cares for us and loves us. He demonstrated this great love by sacrificing Jesus Christ for our sins, putting those who believe in the right relations with Him.
I consider this to be a type of mystery because there is no reason, based on our merit, that God should care so much for us, especially after we continually fail him with sin. God’s grace and love are evident, and his majesty is apparent everywhere in the universe.
You are, therefore, special to God simply because you are a human being. Do not think that you are unworthy to approach God for anything because your worthiness is not based on your merit. We can approach God and be in right relations with him because of Jesus Christ and our faith in him.
God created the universe and everything in it, including humans. Yet, we, seemingly insignificant relative to God’s creation, hold a special place in His heart, so to speak. Remember that when you pray and let it be the basis for confidence.
Some Lessons Learned
- God is master of all
- God is mindful of us humans, and we seem to hold a special place with Him
- God created the universe and everything in it
- We can praise God because of His majesty
- Remember who you are to God when you pray
Know that God loves you and cares for you. We may seem insignificant in the universe, and yet God holds us in high esteem. Therefore, we should consider ourselves blessed and boldly come before Him when we pray. Don’t rely on your own merit or right-standing when approaching God. Instead, associate yourself with the righteousness of Christ and be confident when you pray.
Question: Have you ever felt you were surrounded by enemies who wanted to destroy you? What did you do about it? What changes to your prayers will you make in the future when troubles surround you?