Looking Back at Our Lives from the Future: Psalm 54

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Psalm 54 (NIV)

Save me, O God, by your name;
    vindicate me by your might.
Hear my prayer, O God;
    listen to the words of my mouth.

Arrogant foes are attacking me;
    ruthless people are trying to kill me—
    people without regard for God.

Surely God is my help;
    the Lord is the one who sustains me.

Let evil recoil on those who slander me;
    in your faithfulness destroy them.

I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you;
    I will praise your name, Lord, for it is good.
You have delivered me from all my troubles,
    and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.

Sing this psalm with the Seedbed Psalter today! Visit the resource here.

CONSIDER THIS

This is another psalm written at the time when David was fleeing from his enemies. In this particular psalm, David’s problems are worsened by the betrayal of the Ziphites. David had trusted their loyalty, but they turned against him, revealed David’s hiding place, and promised to turn him over to Saul (1 Sam. 23:19–20). This is a foreshadowing of Christ himself, who was opposed by the religious forces arrayed against him and then, in the end, betrayed by one of his own disciples. We expect the world to oppose us, but when we are betrayed by those close to us, it brings an agony beyond description.

There are several features of this psalm that we should notice. First, it is truly amazing (as we have noticed throughout this series of psalms) that compositions of praise are built around experiences like this. It is almost unprecedented in contemporary hymnology and choruses to highlight themes like this. The psalms assume that we are in conflict with the world and never anticipate the modern expectation of congeniality. Second, given the weight of anguish in this psalm, it is truly amazing that even in the midst of difficulties, the psalmist looks back from a future point when his deliverance has taken place. He has the boldness to speak of this deliverance as if it is a past event, even though he is still in the midst of the trial. David says, “For he has delivered me from all my troubles, and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes” (v. 7). Looking through the eyes of faith, he sees that he will not, in the final analysis, be delivered because of his own clever strategies or human ingenuity, but by God himself: “For he has delivered me from all my troubles” (v. 7).

This is a great insight for Christians. Because we already know of the final victory of Christ and the final vindication of his church, we have the capacity to look at every difficulty in our life from the perspective of eternity. We can, even in the midst of our trials, look back on it from a future perspective and praise God for his great victory. This is truly a great gift. Even though the kingdom of God has not fully come, we can know through the eyes of faith that he has already secured our victory. Thanks be to God.

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Timothy C. Tennent is the President of Asbury Theological Seminary and a Professor of Global Christianity. His works include Invitation to World Missions: A Trinitarian Missiology for the Twenty-first Century and Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church Is Influencing the Way We Think about and Discuss Theology. He blogs at timothytennent.com and can be followed on twitter @TimTennent.

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