Psalm 64 – A Prayer, A Problem, A Prophecy

Written By Scott Jones

Have you ever been surprised by someone who talks about you behind your back, or who plots against you, perhaps while feigning friendship? This type of experience inspired David to write Psalm 64. David was a warrior who had stood courageously against spears, arrows, and wild animals. But in this Psalm he tells us how he dreaded those who used their tongues as arrows and attacked from hiding, without fear of reprisal. David was acquainted with the depraved heart of man and the conspiracies and injustices that emanate from it. He experienced the treachery of Saul and the betrayal of Absalom. More than once he was mocked by those who were pleased with David’s misfortunes. In this Psalm his response was not to take up shield and sword, but to cry out to the Most High for deliverance. 

A Prayer

David began this Psalm by pleading with God for protection from his enemies. 

Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint;
    protect my life from the threat of the enemy.

(Psalm 64:1)

David was not afraid to complain to God about the injustice he experienced. He sought God’s protection from evil people who counseled secretly and who plotted iniquity against him. David was confident that he had an ally in God Almighty. He knew that God’s character is righteousness and justice, and that He would eventually make things right. David was confident that a day will come when all deeds will be exposed, and when God will punish every injustice.

A Problem

David’s enemies had tongues like swords and speech like arrows. Though David was blameless, they secretly plotted to pierce him with their words. They took counsel together to wound him with gossip and accusations. They feared neither man nor God. Notice that David did not describe physical harm; his wounds were inflicted by the words of his enemies. Because they plotted in secret, David’s enemies believed that their schemes would not be discovered and exposed. They were arrogant – confident that their plots were well-conceived. They believed that no one could see.

 For those of us on the front lines of politics and civic engagement, this is not unfamiliar territory. If you stand for righteousness and justice, you will be attacked by adversaries who plot in secret and use words, tweets, and threats to intimidate you into agreement with their beliefs – or at least into silence. While they rarely use violence, the wounds of their words are humiliating and can be intimidating.

A Prophecy

Although David’s adversaries used their tongues like arrows, David realized that God will shoot and wound his enemies with arrows of His own. He will turn their clever arguments against them, and they will stumble because of their own words. The righteous will see this and will praise God for what He has done. The righteous will be glad because God, in whom they take refuge, vindicates them. All those with upright hearts will praise and glorify God. This is as true in our time as it was in David’s. 


There are a number of ways to apply this Psalm. First, examine yourself. Do you have a log in your eye? Are you engaging in gossip? Plotting secretly against another? Devising injustice for the blameless? If so, it is time to repent and seek forgiveness from those you have harmed. If you harbor secret sin, the blessings of God will elude you. Yes, Jesus died for those sins, too, but James tells us: 

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. 
(James 5:16)

If you have sinned against another, seek forgiveness from the Lord, and from the person you harmed. The Lord is gracious and will forgive you.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9)

Second, if you are the victim of gossip, plots, injustice, or oppression, you can take refuge in the Lord. You can cry out to him in prayer about the injustice; you may even complain about it. God sees everything and he knows the pain others have inflicted. No wrong is hidden from His sight. Make no mistake, He will make the injustice right, either based on the cross of Jesus or on the Day of Judgment. He will vindicate you. Your job, then is to revoke revenge and to forgive your oppressor, for vengeance belongs to the Lord alone. 

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. 
(Romans 12:19)

While waiting for justice, you can take heart in the knowledge that we serve a God who is good and trustworthy, who is righteous and just. In the last days, He will wipe away every tear from the eyes of those that love and serve Him. As David tells us:

The righteous will rejoice in the Lord
    and take refuge in him;
    all the upright in heart will glory in him!

(Psalm 64:10)

Psalm 64

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint;
    protect my life from the threat of the enemy.

Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked,
    from the plots of evildoers.
They sharpen their tongues like swords
    and aim cruel words like deadly arrows.
They shoot from ambush at the innocent;
    they shoot suddenly, without fear.

They encourage each other in evil plans,
    they talk about hiding their snares;
    they say, ‘Who will see it?’
They plot injustice and say,
    ‘We have devised a perfect plan!’
    Surely the human mind and heart are cunning.

But God will shoot them with his arrows;
    they will suddenly be struck down.
He will turn their own tongues against them
    and bring them to ruin;
    all who see them will shake their heads in scorn.
All people will fear;
    they will proclaim the works of God
    and ponder what he has done.

The righteous will rejoice in the Lord
    and take refuge in him;
    all the upright in heart will glory in him!