Although David knew nothing of contemporary crises such as nuclear proliferation, runaway inflation, or environmental corruption, he faced his own difficulties which pressed in upon his soul threatening to destroy him. Yet, with confidence and trust he put his hope in God.
A. David's undaunted confidence in God - vv. 1-6
1. His faith - v. 1
Here David portrays misery, distress and trouble with the imagery of darkness and thus speaks of the Lord as light. Yahweh is to David in time of trouble like a mighty fortress is to an army in time of attack. Yahweh serves to uphold and protect David "as surely as the strong walls of a fortified town defy the assaults of an enemy, and afford protection to the inhabitants" (Hengstenberg). The source of David's confidence in God is his knowledge of God. See Isa. 46:9-11; 40:12-13. See also Paul's similar confidence in Rom. 8:31ff.
2. His foes - vv. 2-3
It is doubtful if David intends us to understand that the statement concerning a "host encamping" and a "war arising" refers to a literal experience. His language is rather designed to convey the truth that "no matter how great and threatening a danger may arise against me, I refuse to be afraid; I shall still be confident" (Leupold).
3. His focus - vv. 4-6
One might have expected him to long for rest or bodily comfort or physical protection, especially in light of the imagery preceding in vv. 2-3. But there is a higher aspiration in his heart. Note in v. 4 how the future tense ("I shall seek") is combined with the past tense ("I have asked") to express an ardent longing which extends out of the past and into the future and therefore runs through his whole life. His desire is three-fold:
First, to dwell with God.
Second, to behold God's beauty.
Third, to meditate on God.
In vv. 5-6 David describes the results of this experience: "For one thing, he who abides with God is safe. Utilizing the figure a bit more fully, David claims that it is as though God were to hide such a person in a shelter in the day of trouble until the danger is passed. Or, slightly changing the figure, it is as though God hid his child so that the adversary could not find him. Or, again changing the figure, it is as though He set him up on a high rock that is well out of the reach of danger" (Leupold).
[Note the sudden shift in mood and substance between vv. 1-6 and vv. 7-12. The former reflect the exaltation of confidence and victory. It is as though David had "risen to heaven on the wings of faith" and from there looked down upon the threatenings of his enemies and the troubles of life, and despised them. But in vv. 7-12 he is found with his feet planted firmly on the earth in the midst of his afflictions and at the mercy of his accusers. It is a shift from supreme confidence to plaintive petition, from an exuberant declaration of victory to an earnest prayer for deliverance. Some have suggested that because of this apparent incongruity between the two halves of the psalm that it is the work of two different authors pieced together by a later editor. However, no such hypothesis is necessary to make sense of the psalm.]
B. David's unashamed cry for help - vv. 7-12
1. He prays that God will not forsake him - vv. 7-10
Note his confidence even in the midst of trial: in spite of being forsaken by mother and father, he is certain that Yahweh will "take me up" (v.. 10).
It is doubtful that v. 10a is to be understood that at some point in David's life his parents actually forsook him. It is more likely that he speaks of the love of father and mother because of all on earth theirs would be the last to fail. And yet should even they turn from him, there is a Father in heaven who never forgets!
2. He prays that God will deliver him from his enemies - vv. 11-12
C. David rejoices in the prospect of waiting on God - vv. 13-14
1. The consequences of disbelief - v. 13
2. The call to patient waiting - v. 14
Here David's faith rebukes his faintness. He speaks to himself (and to us).