8 Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings,
9 from the wicked who do me violence,
my deadly enemies who surround me.
10 They close their hearts to pity;
with their mouths they speak arrogantly.
11 They have no surrounded our steps;
they set their eyes to cast us upon the ground.
12 He is like a lion eager to tear,
as a young lion lurking in ambush!
13 Arise, O Lord! Confront him, subdue him!
Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword,
14 from men by your hand, O Lord,
from men of the world whose portion is in this life.
You fill their wombs with treasure;
they are satisfied with children,
and they leave their abundance to their infants.
15 As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.
(Psalm 15:8-15 ESV)
I love David. I truly do. I love him because he is such a sinner. I love David because God loves him, and chooses him, and does not let go of him, no matter what David himself does. And he does a lot. He rebels against King Saul, he steals several other men’s wives (including, possibly, King Saul’s), he fights for the Philistines — the enemies of Israel — with such gusto that the Philistine king is convinced David is of no more use or value to Israel — the people of God.
David hardly lives an upright life. He is not pure and he is not sinless. David makes a lot of “poor choices.” Yet … God loves him. With an unflinching and steadfast love the likes of which we had not seen in scripture until God met David and, well, fell in love with the ruddy-faced little shepherd boy from Bethlehem.
David spends much of the psalms asking God to keep him safe. Demanding that God act to keep him safe and defeat his enemies (which were legion even before he was king — Saul and his armies as well as various and sundry Philistines). And what enemies he has here, in this prayer for help; the wicked who do violence, arrogant men with pitiless hearts, eager young lions waiting to pounce and ravish and devour.
Mostly, they are men who do not seek the better things of God. They seek all the world has to offer — children and wealth. They have all that the world has to offer, and yet, they continue to do violence. Perhaps that is why they do violence, because they only seek the things of this world. And they are not satisfied.
David lives in a violent world, surrounded by people who mean him harm. Who take joy in the terror and brutality they inflict. In that world, he looks to the Lord for protection and even victory. He prays with confidence, knowing that God has not abandoned him in his suffering and will keep him from death.
In return, he will be satisfied. Not with the wealth and treasure of the world, but with the hope that he shall see the face of God, and that in the morning, when he rises, he shall gaze upon the likeness of the Lord.
This is not the self-satisfied prayer of a self-righteous man who suffers a few indignities thinking it shows everyone he has God’s favor. This is the confident prayer of a lost and desperate man who knows that God loves him unfailingly. And because of that, he knows he has already won, he is already victorious, come what may.