Historical Sanctions in Psalms

David, the main author in the biblical book of psalms, emphasized the concept of historical sanctions in his songs. In these writings, David would continually cry out to God to save him from the wicked, and he would plead with God not to let the righteous perish, but to punish the wicked. David asked God to be his protector and deliverer from evil, and when God delivered him, he broke out praising him. A constant theme is: “I have trusted in you, please deliver me!”. David relies on God for his deliverance, rather than himself, his possessions, or other people. One example of this is Psalm 20:7 :

Psalm 20:7

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.

David asked God to save him, and gave God several reasons to save him in the midst of his songs. David asked God not to let him down so that his enemies would not gloat over him, so that he would not be ashamed for trusting in God, because he could not praise God from the grave, and so on. He would also pledge his faithfulness, and tell God how much he had trusted him. Sometimes he would also speak of God’s works which he had done before and how God had acted then, and would cry out for him to act in his favor again.

David proclaimed that God will protect his people, while the wicked, who do not trust in him, would be punished. The wicked do not believe that God will punish them in history, and that they can get away with their evil deeds and schemes without God punishing them or stopping their evil acts. They are in open rebellion against God and his law, and do not fear him. God, as is shown over and over, did not let David down, even though things looked pretty hopeless at times. God is David’s Hope, even if everything seems hopeless. The wicked, on the other hand, do not have hope in striving against an all-powerful God, and their rebellion against God is futile.

God is sometimes portrayed as a judge, someone who will rule in favor of the poor and the needy, and who will not let the wicked get away with their actions. David includes himself as someone who is under God’s jurisdiction, and proclaims that he has not rebelled against God, while his enemies have. David often goes from pleading and crying out to God to praise of him and confidence that God would save him from the wicked.

David took comfort in God’s protection, and acknowledged that the wicked could not destroy him if God was on his side. David described God as a shield, someone who stopped the attacks of the wicked intended to destroy him. David knew that even though he could not stop the wicked, God could, and that is why he sought God’s protection. We see in the psalms examples of David’s strong relationship with God, and are shown to us so we too can cry out to God and have a personal relationship with Him. The psalms are full of these themes as well as many others, and show that God is righteous, and that he is just in his dealings with mankind.


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