LORD my God, I take refuge in you;
save and deliver me from all who pursue me,
or they will tear me apart like a lion
and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.
LORD my God, if I have done this
and there is guilt on my hands —
if I have repaid my ally with evil
or without cause have robbed my foe—
then let my enemy pursue and overtake me;
let him trample my life to the ground
and make me sleep in the dust.
Arise, LORD, in your anger;
rise up against the rage of my enemies.
Awake, my God; decree justice.
Let the assembled peoples gather around you,
while you sit enthroned over them on high.
Let the LORD judge the peoples.
Vindicate me, LORD, according to my righteousness,
according to my integrity, O Most High.
Bring to an end the violence of the wicked
and make the righteous secure—
you, the righteous God
who probes minds and hearts.
My shield is God Most High,
who saves the upright in heart.
God is a righteous judge,
a God who displays his wrath every day.
If he does not relent,
he will sharpen his sword;
he will bend and string his bow.
He has prepared his deadly weapons;
he makes ready his flaming arrows.
Whoever is pregnant with evil
conceives trouble and gives birth to disillusionment.
Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out
falls into the pit they have made.
The trouble they cause recoils on them;
their violence comes down on their own heads.
I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness;
I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High.
David sings this psalm when he is being slandered by a fellow Israelite, a man from the rival tribe of Benjamin. It isn’t pleasant when somebody is hellbent on destroying you, and if an enemy cannot physically kill you, they will do the next best thing: destroy your reputation. Every notable leader in Christian ministry will be familiar with this, but we are not strangers to being slandered either. During our faith journey, there will be occasions we are misunderstood, misrepresented, or mistreated. What are we to do?
We can take a note from David’s book — or, if you prefer, sing a psalm from his hymnal. David does not confront his slanderer, trying to justify himself or his actions or explain how wrong their accusations are. Instead, he goes to God, seeking vindication from him. And his plea is honest and straightforward. If I am guilty, he says, let me suffer the consequences! David trusts God to deliver the correct verdict because only God truly knows a person inside and outside. Only God knows why a person acts in a certain manner.
We can never really know why people say what they say or do what they do. We can’t read their minds, and we can’t see what’s in their heart. For instance, consider the way we look at addicts. Isn’t it with disdain, even contempt? Addictions are often a by-product of deep wounds suffered, a mental illness that has not been successfully treated, a traumatic childhood, or one of several hundred other reasons. The addict finds solace in alcohol, drugs, or sex. They provide a brief respite from constant pain. If we had gone through what they had gone through, we might be in their position today. While this does not condone what they do—an addict’s actions often damage others—understanding that they might not have as much control over their lives as “normal” people do might make us more sympathetic toward them. Therefore, we should be slow to judge, although if we were to pay heed to Jesus, we shouldn’t judge at all! Why? Because even “normal” people have their vulnerabilities and occasionally give in to their weaknesses. Don’t we? Only one person has the right to judge because he sees everything, not just the deed. And if he, who has the right to judge, chooses to show mercy, how can we, so in need of mercy, choose to judge?
This is another reason why David goes to God. He knows that God is merciful, and forgiveness is always available to the repentant sinner. We need to trust this too. So if our enemies slander us, let us go to God instead of confronting our enemies. If we are guilty and acknowledge our wrongdoing, he will forgive us. Scripture declares: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness(1 John 1:9). If we are innocent, God will vindicate us, and those who dig a hole for us, will fall into it themselves.
So, let us go to God, dear friend. God be with you.