Please read Psalm 17.
David began this Psalm by entreating the Lord to hear his plea for protection. He praised God for saving him in the past, and asked God to save him now from his enemies. However, in verse 13, David's tone radically shifts. He goes from a desperate man pleading for protection to an angry man pleading for destruction of his enemies (you may want to reread verses 13-15 now).
In the beginning of verse 13, David asks God, not to protect him, shelter him, or hide him, but to “confront” his enemies and “subdue” his enemies. David has moved from the defensive position to the offensive position. He now wants God to protect him by destroying those who seek to hurt him.
If, as a child, you’ve ever been afraid of a monster in the closet or under your bed, then you can relate to David’s emotions. He doesn’t just want to be kept safe in his Father’s arms; he wants his Father to check the closet, check under the bed, and get rid of whatever might be lurking in there. If the enemy is finally destroyed, then there is nothing left to fear.
But David is not talking about some fictitious monster lurking in the shadows; he is talking about real, flesh and blood people. David is asking God to murder these people so that he can be safe! How could we possibly justify such a request?
Well, David points out that these men don't trust in the Lord. These men do not seek after eternal things. Their focus is on this world, and the joys that it brings. So they deserve to be punished, right?
One day these men will receive their eternal punishment for their rebellion against God and His children, but for now, they are enjoying the spoils of their worldly lifestyle. David despises the contrast of these men, whose wives are bearing them children while they are out murdering families.
It’s just not right! David wants them to experience God’s justice now!
This is a natural emotional response, but that doesn’t mean that it’s what God wants for His children. Ultimately, David settles down and concludes his prayer by turning his focus away from his enemies and back onto his own relationship with God: “as for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness.” Basically, “no matter what my enemies might be enjoying or suffering, I will focus on you, God; I will be satisfied in you alone.”
This is the position that we hope to get in by the end of our prayers. God loves when we talk out our emotions with him. There is nothing wrong with reciting to God all of our anger, fear, frustration, and potentially sinful emotions, so long as we continue to talk to God long enough for Him to calm our fears, ease our anger and frustration, and convict us of our sin so that we repent and experience the cleansing that He offers. Prayer can be an emotional roller coaster, but we must not get off until we come back to that blessed conclusion: “God, I am completely satisfied in you. Thank you for all that you are and all that you do for me.”
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