The Psalmist’s Strong Lament for Help” Psalm 140:1-13

Rev Johnny C Smith

Rev. Johnny C. Smith,
Pastor – Mount Moriah
Missionary Baptist Church

In this psalm of David, we can classify it either as a psalm of lament or an imprecatory psalm.  This psalm unfolds the fact that David’s enemies were vicious and violent whose aim was to destroy him.  David calls on the Lord for help and we would do the same!  The psalmist in Psalm 71:1-3 petitions the Lord for His help when he says:  “In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion.

Deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to escape: incline thine ear unto me, and save me.   Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress.”

In verses 1-8, David cries out earnestly for the Lord to rescue him from the evil devices of violent men.  The psalmist begins his plea by saying, “Deliver me, O Lord, from the evil man: preserve me from the violent man;  Which imagine mischiefs in their heart; continually are they gathered together for war” (vv. 1-2).  These violent men’s speech was destructive and they sought to entrap David’s life, even to the point of killing him.  As the psalmist cries out for help, he acknowledges that the Lord was his strong deliverer.  The Lord will deliver us in a time of distress and severe trouble, for Psalm 40:1-4 affirms:  “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry.  He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.  And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.   Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.”

In verses 9-11, David prays a prayer of imprecation, calling on God to judge his enemies severely.  David wanted his enemies to be dealt with, much as God severely judged Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19).

David uses strong language such as:  “Let burning coals fall upon them: let them be cast into the fire; into deep pits, that they rise not up again.  Let not an evil speaker be established in the earth: evil shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him” (vv. 10-11).  David’s enemies were violent men and David wanted their existence to be overthrown!  Although David prayed these words of imprecation, we are not to pray against our enemies with such enmity and bitterness.  Instead, we are instructed to pray for our enemies in Romans 12:19-21, that speaks this way:  “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.   Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.   Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Finally, in verse 12-13, David was confident that the Lord would defend his cause and praises would be directed to the Lord’s name. With assurance David states: I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor.

Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence.”

May God Bless!