A Prayer Against The Bully

Photo by Ilayza on Unsplash

Tonight we’ll be in Psalm 70. Psalm 70 is a very interesting prayer of David. It isn’t long – just five verses – but it is a prayer that many of us can identify with. Let’s prayerfully read the prayer first, asking the Spirit of God to guide us:

Psalm 70:1-5 Make haste, o God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O Lord. 2 Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul: let them be turned backward, and put to confusion, that desire my hurt. 3 Let them be turned back for a reward of their shame that say, Aha, aha. 4 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified. 5 But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help and my deliverer; O Lord, make no tarrying.

David, though a King, was being bullied.
Anyone can be bullied.

Word Study: To “bully” someone is, according to “Oxford Languages”, is “to seek to harm, intimidate, or coerce (someone perceived as vulnerable)”. The “bully” seeks out someone he or she perceives is weaker to push around in order to build up his or her self esteem or ego. Anyone can be bullied. Though David is the King of Israel, he was being bullied by others. We don’t know exactly WHO was bullying David – maybe a member of his cabinet, or perhaps it was his son Absalom who was rebelling against his throne. We don’t know, but we can say for sure:

Your position or place in life does not protect you from the bullies. Bullies target perceived weaknesses in those
around them in order to make themselves feel
more worthy or valuable.

We live in a day where bullying is king – particularly on social media. Bullies hide behind electronic walls, attacking those they disagree with. Sadly today people no longer have civil discussions over weighty matters. We are “feeling” driven as a people.

When someone does not agree with my “feeling”, the acceptable practice is to bully until your opponent is shamed into agreeing with you.

Children are bullied in schools. I grew up being bullied, up until the age of 17 when I met the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. Jesus taught me that I was cherished, and that I was to stand up against the bullies. When I did, the bullies quickly backed down and sought easier prey. But bullies still abound. A scholarly article in the Journal of Adolescent Health calledBullying and Suicide: A Public Health Approachnotes: “Several recent studies have found an association between bullying and depression or bullying and suicide-related behaviors …” Both the child who bullies and the child who is bullied have self esteem problems. An article on School Counseling notes, “In regards to bullying, 87% of school shooting perpetrators left behind evidence that they were victims of severe bullying.”

Bullies are found in politics. I watched one presidential candidate bully another during the presidential debates several years ago. One candidate “dominated” the other by rudeness, by interruption, by “cutting off” the other candidate. The bully lost the election.

Bullies are found in religion. Rarely did our Lord Jesus teach where He was not interrupted and second guessed by pushy Pharisees, Scribes, Sadducees, and Priests. Though Jesus pushed back, the bullies in time gathered enough momentum to where they could have Jesus executed. The Apostle Peter told these same bullies:

Acts 2:22-23 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain

Though evil bullying killed Jesus, God still controlled the outcome to secure our salvation through Christ’s death. Nonetheless, the bullying was still wicked.

Rather than turn to a human solution to what he was suffering, King David turned to God in prayer. What is interesting is that …

This Is The Second Time David Prayed This Prayer

This is not the first time this prayer was prayed. The superscription to this prayer notes, “A Psalm of David, to bring to remembrance”. In Psalm 40 David prays this same prayer – almost word to word:

Psalm 40:13-17 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me: O Lord, make haste to help me. 14 Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil. 15 Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha. 16 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified. 17 But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.

The commentator and Bible Teacher J. Vernon McGee wrote, “Why repeat {Psalm 40:13-17} here? Because my memory is not very good, and God knew it wouldn’t be. I can imagine that God said, ‘By the time McGee gets to this point in the Book of Psalms he will have forgotten all about Psalm 40, so I’ll repeat it {McGee, 2:790}”. That’s amusing, and it’s meant to be. God has David repeat it because it reinforces that – when we are bullied or made to feel less than by someone’s arrogance, our refuge is to be not tit for tat, but to seek God’s face.

David Sought God’s Presence
While Bullies Sought His Destruction

Psalm 70:1-2 Make haste, o God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O Lord. 2 Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul: let them be turned backward, and put to confusion, that desire my hurt.

As David prays against those who seek after my soul, he does not pray that his enemy be killed. There are other times when David prays for the death of the wicked. Consider:

Psalm 55:12-15 For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: 13 But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. 14 We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company. 15 Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.

David prayed death against those who, like Judas Iscariot, pretended love but were secretly seeking his demise. There are other texts where David prayed for the destruction of his enemies, such as in Psalm 69:28 and 109:8. These are called imprecatory Psalms. Why did David NOT call for the destruction of his enemies here?

I think it has to do with the glory of God, and the spread of God’s Kingdom.

Our God wants to save as many as will come to Him in faith. Our God would prefer that the enemies of the Gospel be converted rather than be crushed. David prayed for the destruction of the enemy only when that enemy was so far gone from God that their destruction would aid the growth of God’s Kingdom.

Some are so hardened that there is no hope. The Hitlers, the Stalins, the Judas Iscariots have concreted their heart in faithlessness. But God seeks the conversion of whosoever will. The Scripture says:

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is … not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance …

God so loved THE WORLD that He gave His Only Begotten Son (John 3:16). There are very few instances where God would honor a prayer that the enemy die. Jesus told us that we are to …

Matthew 5:44-48 (ESV) But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (see also Luke 6:27-38)

There are times when a prayer should be imprecatory – that is – calling down the catastrophic judgment of God. The Apostle Paul said of the false prophets who twisted the Gospel:

Galatians 1:9 (ESV) As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Word Study: That word accursed is the Greek ἀνάθεμα anáthema, (pronounced an-ath’-em-ah), meaning “to be put under the greatest curse”.

David sought God’s comforting presence. He wanted God to come to his aid.

Psalm 70:1 Make haste, o God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O Lord.

Word Study: David asks God to come quickly and do two things: to deliver David, and to help David. The word translated deliver is the Hebrewנָצַל nâtsal, {pronounced naw-tsal’}, which means “to take me away from, to rescue me, to snatch me up”. David is praying that God would take him out of the presence of the bullies. The word does not mean to kill, but to render that person ineffective. When Jacob in later years was going to meet his brother Esau, a brother he tricked, Jacob prayed:

Genesis 32:11 Deliver me {nâtsal}, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.

Jacob meant no harm to his brother, but prayed that God would change the heart of the hunter-warrior Esau into a heart that would not kill him. Further in the Bible, when Joseph’s brothers cast him into a pit and were going to kill him, his brother …

Genesis 37:21 … Reuben heard it, and he DELIVERED {{nâtsal},} {Joseph} out of {his brother’s} hands; and said, Let us not kill him ..

David prayed that those who were attacking him would be changed into those who were not attacking him. David also asked God to help{עֶזְרָה ʻezrâh, [pronounced ez-raw’]} or ASSIST him. When we are attacked, our first go-to is to attack back. If hit with a stick, we want to hit with a 2×4. David was asking God to minister to his soul, while removing the power of the bully (though not killing him).

David prayed that the enemy would see
the error of their ways.

Psalm 70:2 Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul: let them be turned backward, and put to confusion, that desire my hurt.

Word Study: David wanted his attackers to be ashamed is the Qal Imperfect ofבּוּשׁ bûwsh, [pronounced boosh], which means “to be delayed, to be disappointed in”. He prayed they would not be gratified. The word confounded is the Hebrewחָפֵר châphêr, [pronounced khaw-fare’], which means “to be ashamed or put to shame”. This same word is used again in the phrase put to confusion – again, it means “to be put to shame”. David is asking God to stifle his enemy’s efforts, to cause their attempts to backfire on them. As they knit a net of evil to entrap David, David prays that the enemy be turned backward. That is, that they would be caught in their own snare!

Psalm 70:3 Let them be turned back for a reward of their shame that say, Aha, aha.

David prayed that those who found found fault with Him be turned back for a reward of their shame. That their efforts would go no where but into the dust bin of history. We who are Christians are to never avenge ourselves. The Apostle said in another place:

Romans 12:17-21 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

We are not called to eradicate evil nor to kill evil, but to overcome evil with good. We are called to love even the unlovely, to forego vengeance. God will take vengeance on all unbelievers when they pass out of thus life. God is the Judge. We are to do good, and pray.

Psalm 70:3 Let them be turned back for a reward of their shame that say, Aha, aha.

Those who said Aha, aha are those who, watching David, find fault by which they can condemn and mock him. The phrase Aha, aha is also found in:

Psalm 35:20-22 … they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land. 21 Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me, and said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen it. 22 This thou hast seen, O Lord: keep not silence: O Lord, be not far from me.

Though We Are Tried, Let God’s Glory
Be Our Driving Force

Psalm 70:4 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified.

In the midst of his suffering, David prays that others would find the Lord, and the salvation that comes through Him. God is not magnified when our enemies are killed. God is magnified – His power is glorified – when our enemies are converted to become our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we are suffering under the hand of life’s bullies, we need to remember our Lord Jesus, when He preached from the pulpit of His Cross:

Luke 23:34 … Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

The crowd minimized and mocked Christ because sin blinded them to Who He is. Sin blinds the bully today from understanding that ALL are created in God’s image. This includes that bully. The only cure for what the bully is doing is a new heart – and only Christ can give him or her that new heart. Let us, like Jesus, pray for the conversion of the lost. As the lost are saved, the King of Christ grows, and evil diminishes.

In the midst of trials, let us pray and praise our God. The great Chinese Church Leader Watchman Nee wrote:

We have seen that our praise is a sacrifice. But there is more. We have to see that praising is the way to overcome spiritual attacks. Many people say that Satan is afraid of the prayers of God’s children; he flees whenever God’s children kneel down to pray. This is why he often attacks God’s children and frustrates them from praying. This is a common attack. But we will point out another fact: Satan’s greatest attacks are not aimed at prayers; his greatest attacks are aimed at praise. … Satan does not attack just prayer; he also attacks the praise of God’s children. The ultimate goal of Satan is to stop all praises to God. Prayer is a warfare, but praise is a victory. Prayer signifies spiritual warfare, but praise signifies spiritual victory. Whenever we praise, Satan flees. Therefore, Satan hates our praising the most. He will use all his strength to stop our praising. … even a Philippian jail can become a place of songs (Acts 16:25). Paul and Silas were praising God inside the jail cell. Their praise broke loose all the jail doors.”

Let us cast ourselves upon God our Savior! David closes the prayer as he started it:

Psalm 70:5 But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my Help and my Deliverer; O Lord, make no tarrying.

David bows himself dpadown to God. He describes himself as poor” {עָנִי ʻânîy, [pronounced aw-nee’]}, that is, “wretched” and needy” {אֶבְיוֹן ʼebyôwn, [pronounced eb-yone’]}, that is, “a beggar man”. David is casting himself before God, seeking the glory of God. We as His children need to do the same. May God touch your hearts with His Word! God is our Portion forever. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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