What is immediately apparent about Psalm 70 is that the writer is in serious trouble and that he is calling on God to help him quickly before it is too late. We do not know what his trouble was, though it clearly had to do with enemies who were not only mocking him, saying, “Aha! Aha!” (v. 3), but were also seeking to take his life (v. 2). With the exception of the years in which David was hiding from King Saul and the time, much later, when he was forced to flee Jerusalem due to the rebellion of his son Absalom, we do not know what these specific dangers might have been. But we discern from this as well as from other psalms that David faced such dangers much of the time.

For the second time in our study of the psalms we come to a psalm that is a virtual repetition of words found earlier. The first time this happened was more obvious, because it involved the almost exact duplication of an earlier psalm, namely, the duplication of Psalm 14 as Psalm 53. This psalm we are looking at repeats only a portion of an earlier psalm. It is a repetition of verses 13-17 from Psalm 40. Nevertheless, it is a repetition, which makes us ask about the relationship between the two psalms as well as question whether there is any reason for the several slight differences that exist.

There is a great deal of sorrow and tragedy in this life. A person would have to be blind not to see it. But for the Christian, tragedy is never the final word. The final word is always victory and praise. So this is the note on which the psalm ends, just as Psalm 22, which was also a psalm of pain and suffering, ended on a note of victory.1 In this case the psalmist first voices his praise to God, then calls on "heaven and earth... the seas and all that move in them" to praise God also.

Blessings can become curses, as we have seen with the first two examples of baptism and the Lord's Supper. Today we mention two more.

  1. Material possessions. I do not need to elaborate on this. Money and other material goods are from God. But they are dangerous, particularly when we possess them in abundance. They should lead us to God in gratitude. More often they lead us from him.

Jesus' command to forgive our enemies and the Psalmist's imprecations may seem like a contradiction, yet that is not the whole story. It is true that we are not to take vengeance. Paul says this in Romans 12, writing, "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord" (v. 19). But just because we are not to take judgment into our own hands does not mean that we should not want justice to be done or that God will not punish sin eventually. It is significant in this respect that Paul, the same author who says, "Do not take revenge... but leave room for God's wrath," also quotes verses 22 and 23 of Psalm 69 (in Romans 11:9, 10) as a prophecy of a judicial blinding of the majority of the people of Israel because of their rejection of Jesus Christ.