Psalms 54

Psalm 54

Psalm 54 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

Though the opening verses do not indicate the specifics of the trouble at hand, the plea is for action. The desire of the psalmist is for God to do something. Verses one and two give us three possibilities for God to act. There is a call to save. There is a call to defend. And finally, there is a call to hear or listen. These three actions are familiar to us because we pray these same words today.

“God, save us.” We ask God to save us by His Name. This is appealing to the character and reputation of God. Over history, we see a pattern of God acting on the authority of His Name alone (Gen 22:16; Psa 89:35; Isa 45:23; Jer 22:5; Jer 49:13).

“God, defend us.” The next action is judgment. If “God save us” is a plea for mercy, then “God defend us” is a plea for truth. When we call on God to act by His character and reputation, we are submitting our will to His final judgment over what is right and wrong. The desire is for the righteous to be defended but this also means that the evil will be judged. Ironically, the same truth from God may cause one to rejoice in defense and another to wail with judgment. Jesus is the most logical example of this truth. When Jesus appears during His Second Coming, the righteous will celebrate while the evil will shudder.

“God, hear us.” The final plea is for God to bend His ear to the words of the afflicted. This is ordered third in the sequence for a reason. From here, the psalmist goes on to elaborate on his current struggle. If this were a common conversation taking place, it would make sense for it to be third in the sequence. For example, you might say to someone, “I need you to act; I’m asking you to save and defend us.”

The other person might respond, “Why should I act in this way?” Your response would then be filled with an explanation as to why this person should act. It would be important for you to articulate the “why” behind such a request. Here, the psalmist asks for God to listen to the “why” behind his problem.

Eventually, the psalmist appeals to the fact that his adversaries are acting against him as well as against God. It’s not a selfish plea in the least bit. It’s praying the will of God be done according to His sovereign and holy character.

For strangers rise up against me, and violent men seek my life. They have no regard for God. Selah.

Psalms 54:3 HCSB

Note the phrases “strangers rise up against me,” and “they have no regard for God.” For those who love God and follow Him relentlessly, this is a consistent prayer. Not only are these people making decisions that are affecting the psalmist and his future, but they are blatantly opposed to God’s truth while doing so.

There are many great reminders for us in this psalm. First, we can use this template to pray through our current struggles. Where do you need saved? Where do you need defended? How can you elaborate these struggles to a God who is always listening? Another reminder is that God loves to be our counselor. We can come to Him with an open and honest heart when we are struggling with others. We can remind Him of the fact that He should act – not just on our behalf – but on behalf of His Name.

God doesn’t need to be reminded, but I believe that praying reminders to Him allows us to trust Him on a deeper level as we unload the grief of our current situation. Where can you begin praying this same way?

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