Deliver Us From Evil

praying man

Psalms 140, 141 and 143 form a three-part prayer for deliverance from three forms of evil:

  • Deliver us from evil people, Psalm 140:1—13;
  • Deliver us from evil ways, Psalm 141:1—10;
  • Deliver us from evil consequences, Psalm 143:1-12

All three of these psalms were written by David and all three psalms reflect the reality of the presence of sin and evil people all around the righteous and that the righteous need protection from God.  There is a continuing assault from which only the power of God can bring deliverance.

1.  Protection from evil people, Psalm 140:1—13

Within the context of this psalm, “evil men” had falsely accused David and David turns to his God for help.  What is outstanding about the psalmist’s attitude is that his lament or complaint is not against God for having allowed these “evil men” to do this to him!   Rather than whine to God, David commits his future to the Lord and trusts that God will do what is best for him.

The structure of this psalm is interesting because in some ways it reflects the way real people think.  It is technically a personal lament, but David goes back and forth between asking God for help, and trusting that the help is coming, and then asking again.   That probably is the experience that most believers have.

(a)  The threat, verses 1—5

“Rescue me” is the usual way the psalmists begin their laments.  The question we would like to ask David is, “Whom did you need rescuing from?”  Certainly some of the “evil men” in the psalms were Gentiles, but most of the people that are seen opposing God’s people in the Psalms were fellow Jews, whose apostasy was seen in their opposition to not only God’s people but Jehovah Himself.  Imagine having to pray for rescue from your own people!

David, in these verses, prays for deliverance and protection of “evil, wicked, and proud” men.  What David says about these men is similar to what Paul wrote about the sinfulness of the human race in Romans 3:10—18.

In particular, these are “evil men” not only because of their violent acts, but also because of their speech; they cause problems by the words they use.  They scheme and speak maliciously and are bent on not only causing problems for David, but on destroying him all together.

The threat to David was a constant one; no wonder he cried out to God for deliverance!  No human being can on guard 100% of the time.  There is only One whose eyes never grow weary; Jehovah.

(b)  The deliverer, verses 6, 8

The first five verses, David’s personal lament, were prayed in faith believing that God was on the verge of coming through for Him.  The psalmist had confidence in His Lord.  This is an essential ingredient in prayer.  Why pray to God for any kind of help if you don’t think God is capable to provide what you are asking for?  So, in faith and confidence David asked the Lord for protection.  Now, as if to contrast the wickedness of the lying tongues of the “evil men,” David declares, “I say to you…”

This part of the prayer is gripping.  Notice what the writer says—

O LORD, I say to you, “You are my God.”
Hear, O LORD, my cry for mercy.
O Sovereign LORD, my strong deliverer,
who shields my head in the day of battle-

Once again, we see David’s expression of a “personal relationship” with God.  He calls Him “my God” and “my strong deliverer.”  He recognized that God fought for Him and in his prayer, David is almost reminding God of that; he is recounting that which God had done for Him and continues to do for Him.

Verse 8 is a window on David’s motives.

[D]o not grant the wicked their desires, O LORD;
do not let their plans succeed,
or they will become proud.

David does not want the wicked to succeed, not because their success would further harm him, but because their success would make them proud!   Is David worried about the spiritual state of his enemies?   No, he is concerned that if they become “proud,” in their arrogance they will do even worse.

(c)  The protection, verses 9—13

These verses have caused some debate among Bible scholars.  Some suggest that believers today should not pray like that and they point to Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:44—

But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

It should be noted, though, that the Bible is not advocating hatred toward enemies or that believers should be involved in a “spiritual vendetta” against their enemies.  David is simply praying that his enemies and Gods would “get theirs” at the hands of the Almighty.   In these verses there isn’t as much as a hint of personal retaliation against his enemies, but rather their fate is left in God’s hands.

It is definitely acceptable to pray that those who live in opposition to God and God’s people be stopped and experience God’s correction and/or punishment.

2.  Protection from evil ways, 141:1—10

David refuses waterThis psalm was also written by David, and some scholars place its composition around the time he was fleeing for his life from King Saul.  But the emphasis here is not on protection from without, but rather the focus was on the writer himself.

(a)  Preservation from evil, verses 1—4

Even though David was “in love with prayer,” evil was all around him and temptations never far away.  Temptation can take many forms; outward acts of sinful rebellion are the obvious forms but also there is the temptation to sin in other ways:  becoming depressed or discouraged is sinful; losing faith is sinful.

So David asks God to “guard” what he says.  What we say and the attitude of how we say it is a good indicator of the state of our relationship with God.  And temptation to do evil is an ever-present reality that tugs at our innermost being.  Man needs help from God to resist that and David is not too proud to ask for it.

(b)  Fellowship of the righteous, verses 5—7

David seemed to recognize the power of numbers; that strength that comes from good, godly fellowship.  In verse 5 we see a desire to be disciplined, which is remarkable in and of itself, but notice where the disciple comes from—

Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness;
let him rebuke me—it is oil on my head.
My head will not refuse it.

The truly righteous man receives encouragement and discipline from other righteous men, and he receives it with joy.  Far too often, we view discipline as a bad thing and we view those being discipline with disdain, but according to David’s inspired words, discipline is a good thing and wise is the one who receives it.  There is no discipleship without discipline.

(c)  Determination, verses 8—10

David’s lament changes to high faith as he fixes his eyes on God; it’s hard to have faith when we are looking at ourselves.   We see in these verses a two-pronged prayer:  David prays to be kept from the traps of evildoers, but at the same time he prays for vindication.  The notion of the vindication of God’s people and of God Himself is a key ingredient in Hebrew poetry but is not generally a major component of modern prayers.   Time and again, we read where the psalmist asks God to intervene so as the wicked work of the evil men would boomerang back on them and their eyes be opened to their own sinfulness, God’s greatness, and the truth of the faith of God’s people.

The writer here is seen putting his complete trust in God.  As far as he is concerned, there is no refuge to the right or to the left.  That God is a refuge means two things to David:  God’s presence provides safety for God’s people but spells trouble for God’s enemies as their plans backfire.

3.  Protection from evil consequences, 143:1—12

This psalm is the last of what Bible scholars call “the seven penitential psalms.”  The others are Psalms 6; 32; 38; 51; 102; and 130.  This very liturgical psalm speaks so eloquently about God’s grace, Martin Luther nicknamed it the “Pauline psalm.”

(a)  Longing for the Lord, verses 1—6

So sure of his guilt before the Lord, David cries out to God, asking for an audience but that God would not be judgmental of him.   It is possible for any believer to feel so spiritually empty that they think their prayers are totally ineffective.  This is how David felt when he wrote this; he knew there was sin in his life and that because of His nature, God would have to find him guilty of those sins.  Interestingly, David appeals to God’s nature; in specific, God’s faithfulness and His unfailing righteousness.

One of simplest statements about man’s sinfulness is found in this very psalm—

…no one living is righteous before you…

This reminds us of what both Paul and John wrote centuries later under very different circumstances—

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… (Romans 3:23)

For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.  (Romans 11:32)

If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.  (1 John 1:10)

Sometimes we feel righteous before the Lord, like David did when he wrote psalm 7:3—5—

O LORD my God, if I have done this
and there is guilt on my hands-

if I have done evil to him who is at peace with me
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.

And other times we feel guilt ridden.  This is perfectly natural, depending on the circumstances we find ourselves in.  When we are persecuted for the sake of Christ, then we are innocent.  However, when we are brought face to face with the consequences of our own sinfulness, it is right to recognize and confess our guilt.  Usually the more dependent we become on God, the more we see sinfulness.

Into this normal problem, David faces the additional burden of facing his enemies.  There is not a Christian alive who has never felt “oppressed” when life’s situations pile up on them.  It is easy to feel put upon when one bad thing after another confronts us.   Here is where the Word of God is invaluable; when David felt like this, what did he do?

I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works
and consider what your hands have done.  (verse 5)

In the dark days, the psalmist remembers better days and thinks on all the things God has done.  No wonder we read things like this—

I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.  (Psalm 119:11)

praying(b)  Living for the Lord, verses 7—12

This final group of verses contains a myriad of prayers for deliverance, guidance and dedication to the Lord.

The psalmist, having expressed his spiritual desolation now writes about the need for God’s grace to live a life that pleases Him.  No matter how sincere we may be, each one of us need God’s help to live right.  When we see how desperately sinful we are, we end up desperately seeking more of God.  There is no genuine penitence without determination to live a changed life; feeling sorry for a sinful past is of no value unless there is a corresponding desire to change.

Verse 10, Teach me to do your will, is a good prayer for every genuine believer to pray every day they have the breath to do so.  The greatest experience any soul can have is a life lived in alignment with God’s will.   When we live according to God’s will, it will be as though we are walking on level ground.

A careful reading of verse 10 yields a precious truth.  In the KJV, verse 10 is slightly different from the NIV translation—

Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.

Notice the phrase, “land of uprightness,” which is “level ground” in the NIV.  What does that mean?   The literal translation is helpful:

…lead me in the land of the plain…

Perhaps David is asking God for something most of us need:  the ability to see Him in the darkness around us.  Wouldn’t it be nice to see God as clearly as you see the struggle that may be looming ahead of you?  How encouraging would it be to know for certain God is right where you are when you need Him most?

David learned the profound truth that Job learned.  If the God who laid the foundation of the Earth is also there when the mountain goats give birth and He, at the same time, watches the wild animals foraging for food, and gives them wisdom, then how much more does God care for you?

Deliverance for all is but a prayer away.

praying hands

(c)  2009 WitzEnd

Bookmark and Share

Another great day!

Blog Stats

  • 299,758 hits

Never miss a new post again.


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 282 other followers

Follow revdocporter on Twitter

Who’d have guessed?

My Conservative Identity:

You are an Anti-government Gunslinger, also known as a libertarian conservative. You believe in smaller government, states’ rights, gun rights, and that, as Reagan once said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”

Take the quiz at


%d bloggers like this: