The other day I was reading in the Psalms and I came upon a curious passage in Pslam 56. At first it seemed much like other Davidic psalms that have David crying out to God for rescue from his enemies. On closer examination, however, these enemies are even worse.
I guess it all depends on your perspective. At the very least, they are different.
First, Iâ€™ll give you the passage:
Â 1(C) Be gracious to me, O God, for man(D) tramples on me;
Â Â Â all day long an attacker oppresses me;
2my enemies trample on me all day long,
Â Â Â for many attack me proudly.
3When I am afraid,
Â Â Â I(E) put my trust in you.
4In God, whose word I praise,
Â Â Â in God I trust;(F) I shall not be afraid.
Â Â Â What can flesh do to me?
Â 5All day long they injure my cause;[b]
Â Â Â all their thoughts are against me for evil.
6They(G) stir up strife, they(H) lurk;
Â Â Â they(I) watch my steps,
Â Â Â as they have waited for my life.
7For their crime will they escape?
Â Â Â (J) In wrath(K) cast down the peoples, O God!
Â 8You have kept count of my tossings;[c]
Â Â Â (L) put my tears in your bottle.
Â Â Â (M) Are they not in your book?
9Then my enemies will turn back
Â Â Â (N) in the day when I call.
Â Â Â This I know, that[d](O) God is for me.
10In God, whose word I praise,
Â Â Â in the LORD, whose word I praise,
11in God I trust;(P) I shall not be afraid.
Â Â Â What can man do to me?
Â 12I must perform my(Q) vows to you, O God;
Â Â Â I will render thank offerings to you.
13(R) For you have delivered my soul from death,
Â Â Â yes, my feet from falling,
(S) that I may walk before God
Â Â Â (T) in the light of life.
Davidâ€™s enemies are on the move againâ€”nothing new there. I mean, his whole life, they never quit. But look at verse 2 and the curiously bizarre phrase, â€œthey attack me proudly.â€
Whatâ€™s that all about?
Several translations completely miss the boat on this. Thatâ€™s why I prefer a word for word translation like the New American Standard Bible or the English Standard Bible when studying for a sermon or delving deep. I enjoy reading the Message or the New Living Translation for application and story flow, but when thereâ€™s a tricky passage Iâ€™m careful to go to a translation that leaves nothing to chance.
Ok, hermeneutics lesson overâ€”back to my point.
When the NIV (a phrase by phrase translation) says, â€œ they are attacking me in their pride,â€ something is lost.
And when the NLT says, â€œthey attack me boldly,â€ it conveys the idea that Davidâ€™s enemies are brave. But thatâ€™s not the intention and may be 180 degrees off the mark.
Finally, when the KJV doesnâ€™t even mention the attitude of the enemies they do the greatest disservice of all.
Itâ€™s hugely relevant and hereâ€™s whyâ€¦
If you simply make note of the supposed courage of the enemies of David (and ultimately, God Himself) then you might very well conclude that any cause worth believing in is worth fighting for.
But is that whatâ€™s happening here?
No. Not by a long shot. Whatâ€™s happening is that these enemies are mocking Davidâ€™s God. They do not believe in Him in the least and they certainly do not fear Him as a result of their unbelief. So, it naturally follows that they have no respect for David or anything he says or does. They (like many modern day spiritual jihadists) have convinced themselves that they are untouchableâ€”that Davidâ€™s God is nothingâ€”or, at the very leastâ€”uninvolved in Davidâ€™s life.
Furthermore, they believe God is on their side and that far from being wrong, they are most unequivocally, right. And the numbers are on their side. After all, everyone they know believes like them.
So they attack proudly.
But they do not attack boldly.
And thereâ€™s a difference. Look at their methodsâ€¦
- tramples on me (thereâ€™s a herd mentality)
- they injure my cause (so â€˜gossipâ€™ is a favorite weapon, but gossip, by its very nature, is not done face to face.).
- their thoughts are against me for evil Â You canâ€™t hear thoughts. Again, too cowardly to speak out.
- 6They(G) stir up strife Thereâ€™s that gossip again.
- , they(H) lurk; Oops, hiding isnâ€™t very brave.
Â Â Â they(I) watch my steps, Spying is borderline voyeuristic. Shame, shame.
Â Â Â as they have waited for my life No direct assault here. They wait, because, in truth, they are scared of David. He always seems to find a way to come out on top. His life has taught anyone with eyes and ears that God can show favor to individuals. They certainly know this deep down, but their jealously and hatred for David clouds their reasoning.
This is the worst kind of enemy, because they are consumed with darkness.
How do you win against this?
YOU donâ€™t. God does. David saved his tears and anguish for God alone. However, like the Sure Deodorant commercial, he never let his enemies see him sweat. He knew these types would be with him all his days and that left him only 3 choicesâ€¦
- Deal with them in his own strength
- Give in to them
- Let God deal with them
Iâ€™m going with David on this one. Iâ€™ll let God deal with the cowardly snipers of life. As for me and my house? We have a mission to pursue and donâ€™t have time for it.