Insolent and Ruthless Men: Psalm 86:14

“O God, insolent men have risen up against me; a band of ruthless men seeks my life, and they do not set you before them.” (Psalm 86:14, ESV)

Psalm 86 was written as a song for Israel. It was also based on the personal experience of King David. He was threatened by his enemies throughout his life, and he had many enemies. He had enemies from war. He had political enemies. He even had a son who tried to usurp his kingship. He had many encounters with death.

In Psalm 86, David cries out to the Lord for help. In humility, he admits his need for the one true God, Creator of the Universe and Lord of All, to listen and answer. He also acknowledges God’s ability to overcome all obstacles and adversity. He reflects on his past experience and knowledge of God, remembering God’s great works and faithfulness.

Then David brings up a serious issue. Insolent men have risen up against me. He doesn’t just say men have risen against me. He calls them insolent. Insolent men are rude, bold, arrogant, disrespectful, and proud. They were also ruthless, cruel, inspiring terror, mighty, violent and oppressive. These insolent, ruthless men intended not only to harm but also to cause fear and terror. Their lack of respect for God and His laws and morals was quite evident. They also displayed arrogance and lack of respect for God by trying to destroy God’s anointed king, David.

The sad thing is insolent and ruthless men still exist. There are many who do not acknowledge God. Some have allowed their arrogance and disrespect to lead them to lives of cruelty, violence and oppression. Some have gone so far as to become terrorists. These people who do such things do not set God before them. Their arrogance has led them to believe that they know better than the Living, Existent, Holy God.

David knows the truth. His help and protection come from the Lord. In a parallel passage David says, “Arrogant foes are attacking me; ruthless people are trying to kill me— people without regard for God. Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me (Psalm 54:3–4, NIV).” David was the leader of a strong country. His army had won many battles. He was famous, wealthy and powerful. But he knew that he could not stop ruthless and insolent men, only God can do that.

We live in uncertainty. Ruthless and insolent people exist. But our hope can not be in the government. Our power is not in a military. Our eternal well-being is not in our own hands no matter how competent we are. Our hope is in the Lord. David knew this. In Psalm86:15-17, David petitions God to deal with the ruthless individuals that are trying to destroy him. He puts his faith and trust in God and in God alone. I pray that during these difficult and fearful days, we can do the same, trust God and God alone.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13, NIV)

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