Read Psalm 54
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A maskil of David. When the Ziphites had gone to Saul and said, “Is not David hiding among us?”
1 Save me, O God, by your name;
vindicate me by your might.
2 Hear my prayer, O God;
listen to the words of my mouth.
3 Arrogant foes are attacking me;
ruthless people are trying to kill me—
people without regard for God.
4 Surely God is my help;
the Lord is the one who sustains me.
5 Let evil recoil on those who slander me;
in your faithfulness destroy them.
6 I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you;
I will praise your name, Lord, for it is good.
7 You have delivered me from all my troubles,
and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.
In Psalm 54 David cries out to God for help. It reminds us of what we are up against, how we can better love others, and who is really fighting our battles.
During the first half of the psalm, David asked God for help and explained his situation. In verse 3 he sings, “for strangers have risen against me; ruthless men seek my life; they do not set God before themselves.” Meditating on that verse and what follows can transform how we look at our conflict and difficulties. David clarifies that his oppressors do not know God; they embrace lives of sin and evil. In any conflict, it’s easy to direct our anger or fear towards a person or a group—in this case David was fearful of the Ziphites betrayal in 1 Samuel 23. But Ephesians 6:12 reminds us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
When we realize that we are not fighting against men but against evil, we are empowered to do two things. First, we are empowered to truly love our enemies. Second, we are empowered to trust God for our victory.
Remembering that our battles are not against people, but against evil is fundamental to living out the Christian call to love your enemies (Matthew 5:44). Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. deeply understood the necessity of “hating the evil and loving the man.” He often preached about the destructive nature of viewing our oppressors as enemies—it bars our ability to see them as humans, created in the image of God. And it “scars our hearts over in hate.” He reminds us that, “It is evil we are seeking to defeat, not the persons victimized by evil.” This understanding empowers us to complete the second part of Matthew 5:44, which is to pray for those who persecute you. Understanding the broken nature of our oppressor as well as their need for God allows us to pray diligently for their salvation.
As we are fighting against evil we can truly trust God for the victory. Because our conflict is of a spiritual nature, we can operate in the confidence that God has already overcome. He has already defeated death! When we truly believe this, our anxiety, stress, and worry can dissipate. As Proverbs 21:31 reminds us, “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.” We can do our best to prepare, but the outcome and the victory ultimately rest with God.
- Are there people in your life you look at negatively or feel like you are always in conflict with?
- How can you be praying for those people?
- How can you practice surrendering those conflicts and situations to God?