By Peter Enns
No one likes to be wronged or falsely accused. No one likes to be treated unjustly or be taken advantage of. Many psalms, like Psalm 54, deal with this theme.
Psalm 54 is a psalm of David. According to the psalm’s “superscription” (that bit just before the psalm begins that was added at a later point in time), this psalm reflects on a specific moment in David’s life when he was in a tense relationship with King Saul, whom he would soon replace as king.David’s life is being threatened (v. 3) and he is being slandered (v. 5). Rather than take matters into his own hands, he looks to God to vindicate him (v. 1). Then he will give thanks to God for his deliverance (vv. 6-7).
But this psalm is not part of the Psalter to give us a glimpse into David’s life. The Psalter was collected and meant for Israel’s benefit. Whatever personal issue might have driven David or other psalm writers to pen their words, these psalms were brought into a collection that was meant to apply to other readers. That is why you never see specific names and incidents in the psalms themselves. Readers are supposed to see the psalms as a “mirror of the soul” as John Calvin put it, not an account of one past person’s experiences.
The fact is that feeling wronged is part of everyday life, and certainly for those who are trying to follow the path of the gospel. No one really relishes such experiences, and no one would go out of their way to choose threats and slander to be a part of their lives.
Yet, this is precisely what Jesus did. Threats and slander were not thrust upon him. He took on willingly a life of slander, being misunderstood, and threats to his own life. Jesus did this for us. And, as David prays in this psalm, Jesus was also vindicated by God, for even though he died, he was raised to life.
Have you ever been unjustly wronged by others? Have you brought this matter to the Lord in prayer or tried to manage the situation on your own? How did you feel when you handle things this way?
Have you ever considered that, during times of such intense struggle, you may be more like Jesus than when times are going well? Have you ever seen your suffering as something that connects you to Jesus?
Lord, my protector and comforter, I lay before you my fear, my anger, and my desire to get even with others. Vindicate me, in your time and place; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.