The Helmet of Salvation

Psalm 140

Watch the Selahs!

Last imprecatory psalm. Know David was penman, uncertain the particular circumstances that prompted writing. Most likely during time Saul and advisors were harassing. Like many psalms, lack of specific historical context encourages broader application. Has definite relevance in present cultural setting, more so in future given trends.

Bumper sticker years ago: “When you get over the hill, you pick up speed”. Intended as commentary on aging process. Applies equally well to morality – once pursuit of biblical values and principles has been abandoned, descent into evil picks up speed rapidly. Need examples? Rewind 20 or 30 years, then fast forward nightly news, newspaper front pages. What kinds of things take front and center now compared to then? Doesn’t show signs of slowing down either!

Especially important: keep in mind what we know, things not exactly what they seem. Piers Morgan, former CNN commentator:

“Not much fills the heart with unrestrained glee at 5am on a cold, dank Fall morning. But I awoke to news that Mohammed ‘Jihadi John’ Emwazi was ‘probably’ dead – and felt like dancing a jig of delight. …he was reportedly [killed] by a direct U.S. drone strike. …A more appropriate way for this sub-human abomination to meet his demise it would be hard to fathom.”

It’s ok to rejoice that someone bent on unspeakable evil has reportedly been stopped. At same time, remember while Jihadi John responsible for all he did, was at same time a tool of the one he worshiped. Is easy, natural to respond to evil on purely human level. Must at same time recognize spiritual dimension, that most important and powerful enemy is unseen. ReadEph. 2:1-3, further elaboration in Eph 6:12

Why important? now? Remember the hill? Fewer external restraints on Satan’s agents; are increasingly active, vocal, violent. Representative government and rule of law have been great blessing; when God’s law has been marginalized or abandoned by majority, things change. Would be irresponsible to ignore trends, just as irresponsible to be alarmist. Troublous times ahead for Christians especially, but really everyone. Must be prepared with right equipment, supplied by right authority.

Psalmist cries out to Yahweh 7x – v.1, 4, 6 (2x), 7, 8, 12: save me from evil hearts and tongues, save me from evil hands and traps, only God can take care of me, only God can take care of them, God will prevail.

A. rescue me from evil hearts and tongues v.1-3

first things first, because things lead to things – prayer, crying out to God first… that shapes rest of thinking and response

will not properly grasp greatness of God when focused on “greatness” of problems

will not properly grasp compassion of Yahweh, covenant personal God, when focused on hatred of enemies

this kind of request, way of thinking the right outcome / application of previous psalm with 3 omni’s

if God is omni…, focus on him first, seek help from him first, expect him to answer

character of enemies: evil and violent, totally corrupt, rotten to the core – too harsh? see Rom. 3:10-13ff

hasn’t gotten to what they do, only who they are: refutes “product of environment” idea

evil – that way by nature (children of wrath, Eph.), not simply ones who do evil

violent – outward violence evidence of inward conflict; seen in practice of cruely and injustice

think war against sin hard to deal with, imagine war against God! will eventually boil over somewhere

actions of enemies

planning (2a) – not reactionary, instead subtle and devious; generally put far more thought into actions than Christians!

pooling resources (2b) – “enemy of enemy is friend”; working together to work the crowd

preparing (3a) – gather resources and weapons, not waiting till last minute

actions those of working a plan to have maximum effect, clearly something Satan would incite

intentions of enemies – to do harm to all who oppose, who represent some sort of “threat”

stir up conflict (2b) – cry loudly for world peace, continuously stir up personal conflict, pit others against one another

to extent Christians fall for it, fight with each other, make Satan’s job easier

cause injury (3a) – not a game, intend to do real and serious harm; much of time, desire to hurt

ultimately neutralize opposition (3b) – would settle for neutralizing, many cases prefer destruction; don’t want to deal, don’t want reminders either

common weapon: words – criticism, false accusation, insinuation, spin, lack of context, misinterpretation

B. shelter me from evil hands and traps v.4-5

danger / opposition from enemies can be physical as well as verbal

Satan’s goal in all things: destruction, will use all in his power to achieve… including willing agents

Americans no longer immune to physical violence against Christians – church burnings, shootings

intention is to discredit, destroy reputation, derail forward progress of believer

work to set up scenarios where godly, caught off guard, reacts/responds badly

use temptation, deception, whatever it takes to divert Christian from staying true to profession… then say “looky there”

if possible, thru repetition, cause believer to question own spiritual condition or worse

proud people hate to be shown up… especially by humble believer, will try to knock them down

use any means available to cause trouble for child of God, again, ultimate goal to destroy

don’t be surprised when pagans act like pagans – be surprised and thankful for God’s restraining hand when they don’t!

truth is, we need rescuing and shelter from God’s enemies who are our enemies; God alone can meet need

C. only God can take care of me v.6-8

cry for help didn’t come out of nowhere – was the recognized voice of a child calling

not like 9/11 – huge shake-up, let’s make nice to God, ask him to help, maybe he’ll be nice guy and answer

one praying already in relationship – “you are my God”… based on relationship I’m asking

nothing tentative in request: confident expression of hope and assurance

you are strong one, source of salvation – one on whom he depended for protection and deliverance

don’t forget whose strength is important: “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10) – psalmist didn’t ask for strength, instead depended on God’s superior strength

is God who is his helmet of salvation, who covers his head in battle – both practical and spiritual application

practical – providing physical protection from all sorts of harm that would disable or destroy

spiritual – provides guard against deception, diversion, discouragement (attacks on mind and soul)

no human helper can cover all bases all the time – needs three omni’s to achieve with certainty

not just prayer that God would help his child, request he would frustrate the enemy

“do not let the wicked have their way” NET – beyond psalmist’s capability to change course of events but not God’s

of course, gives the wicked a fever; doesn’t give up trying, perhaps knows deep down is God thwarting him

“do not allow their plan to succeed” NET – from human perspective, wicked will succeed: have far more numbers and resources than the godly

pride of wicked takes serious hit when plans and boasts fail; worse when destruction planned for others falls on them

is only God who can for certain bring plans and designs of wicked to nothing and prevent godly from harm

D. only God can take care of them v.9-11

if evil speech and efforts of evildoers boomerangs on themselves, God must be one to do it

praying for poetic justice – instead of bringing harm to innocent, bring it on themselves

in each request, is a one-for-one kind of retribution – harm the evildoer thought was appropriate for someone else becomes theirs

not the psalmist on personal vendetta, not asking God to let him pull the trigger; is asking God to carry out justice

as always, God has prerogative to use method of his own choosing – may even choose to convert enemy into child

psalmist’s request goes far beyond consequences for evildoer – wants an end to evil and violence and untruth worldwide

prays for judgment on evildoer so that good and justice and truth will prevail… for more than just himself personally

what about application for today? ISIS and airplanes and movie theaters and guys like Jihadi John?

those whom God has appointed his agents for justice (civil gov’t) must do their part to deal with evil

those whom God has adopted into his family must pray for his help, for God to do what God must do… for sake of people in Middle East… and Russia… and France… and whole earth

E. God will prevail v.12-13

psalmist didn’t end in pessimistic gloom, neither shall we – Longfellow almost right “The wrong shall fail, the right prevail”

isn’t just right that prevails, God prevails – is God who defends oppressed, executes justice for the needy

is God who is praised and thanked for his marvelous works on behalf of his people

is God who ensures that righteous receive their promised reward – blessing of his presence

let’s get a little more specific – all this brought about by Lord Jesus during First and Second Advents

was Jesus whom God sent to wage war on sin, Satan and death – he won glorious victory at Calvary, finalized at end

because of his victory, what Jesus accomplished that poor and oppressed can be defended and vindicated

is Lord Jesus who promised to return and take his followers to be with him in answer to his prayer (John 17:24)

True, is only right to be upset/grieved by evil taking place in our world. Must not become complacent, desensitized to plight of others including brothers and sisters. Can’t rightly take attitude that Rapture’s coming so not important what happens in world. Shouldn’t be overcome with fear and worry either. Psalmist nailed it: trust God, pray for his help and intervention, keep eyes on the one who wins. God owns all things, God rules all things, Jesus is King and will have last word.

 

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