O Yahweh, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul, “There is no salvation for him in God.”
But You, O Yahweh, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to Yahweh, and He answered me from His holy hill.
I lay down and slept; I woke again, for Yahweh sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.
Arise, O Yahweh! Save me, O my God! For You strike all my enemies on the cheek; You break the teeth of the wicked.
Salvation belongs to Yahweh; Your blessing be on Your people!
Bible scholars believe David wrote this psalm in regard to his fleeing from Absalom (2 Samuel 15-18). If we’re looking for some sort of life application to take from this psalm, one could apply this to betrayals one has faced (for Absalom was David’s own son who tried usurping his throne), but I believe this would be a stretch.
David’s enemies were a militant enemy. We also have militant enemies, although it may not be to the same extent as David’s enemies (yet). We still have militant Muslims who are killing Christians for their faith. Here in America, our enemies are militant atheists like the infamous Richard Dawkins and the self-proclaimed scientist, Bill Nye, as well as millions of liberals who undermine God’s Word.
Yet in the midst of his enemies, David calls God his shield. A shield gives us the image of a largely shaped, blunt object in front of one’s body as it absorbs life-threatening blows in hand-to-hand combat. Christ is our shield, for He took the blow of death for us, and thus we have hope in the resurrection of the dead (cf. Romans 6:3-7, 10-11).
While in the midst of persecution, then, we recall this hope and call upon the Lord for deliverance. Indeed, He answers our calls as we trust and rely on Him, just as David did on numerous occasions. For the God we call on to deliver us from our enemies is the same Yahweh of hosts who fought for Israel and gave them victory over mighty armies, such as over that of Og the king of Bashan (Deuteronomy 3).
This is why David can say with confidence, “Blessed are all who take refuge in Him” (Psalm 2:12). Because we have the hope in Christ who is to come again, we can—like David—experience a lack of fear in spite of our thousands of enemies. Anyone who is not in Christ is considered an enemy of God (James 4:4) and, therefore, our enemies also.
Thus, we are literally surrounded by enemies, both known and unknown. Yet we can take refuge in God with the same confidence as David, “Salvation belongs to Yahweh; Your blessing be on Your people” (v. 8)! Our enemies may completely surround us in this life, but in the life to come, they shall all perish and we shall find ourselves spending eternity with God our Saviour.