Psalm 64 – Preserve My Life

Do you live in fear? In Psalm 64, David expresses his fears to God.


Psalm 64 divides into two parts based upon the change of address in verse 7. Verses 1-6 are a prayer to God but in verse 7 we have a sudden change to talking about God rather than to God. This change of address highlights God's actions in response to David's prayer.

The first part can further be divided into two sections. The first section is David's complaint and the second is a description of the evildoers. The meaningful center, a common device in the psalms, is found in verse 5, and highlights the commitment of David's adversaries to doing evil.

They hold fast to their evil purpose;
they talk of laying snares secretly,

As we will see, the intentions of the evildoers and God's response is carefully written to be in parallel. David's adversaries receive what they intended to give. The metaphor of an archer shooting arrows is used throughout, strengthening this parallel structure.

My Complaint

Psalm 64:1-2

David raises his complaint to God. His enemies are trying to destroy him and he is afraid. He pleads for God to hide and protect him. It is here that we first encounter the theme of fear. This theme will return in each of the three sections.

The Evildoers

Psalm 64:3-6

The prayer now paints a vivid picture of the evildoers. They are like archers, hidden in ambush, sniping at the innocent. Many of the words used in verses 3-4 will return in the next section: "tongues", "shooting", "sudden", "fear". But the context will be very different!

Notice that they have no fear. David was in fear of these people, but they, in contrast, have no fear.

The meaningful center, in verse 5, is designed to emphasize that they are committed to evil and secretly hurting others. They have no fear because they think no one can see them as they set their ambush.

God's Response

Psalm 64:7-10

But God ...

Two words that make all the difference! To highlight this difference David switches from a prayer to God to a song about God.

When God enters the scene everything changes! The theme of an archer continues, but now the archer is God and all their plans are turned against them. God ambushes the ambushers!

  • The evildoers sharpened their tongues like a sword (verse 3), but God turns their tongues against them (verse 8).
  • They shot their arrows from ambush (verse 4), but God is now the archer shooting at them (verse 7).
  • They shot suddenly with no warning (verse 4), but God also shoots suddenly with no warning (verse 7).
  • They thought no one could see (verse 5), but God sees them clearly and wounds them with his unerring arrows (verse 7).
  • They had no fear (verse 4), but God fills them with fear (verse 9).

The last two verse show us the response of the observers of God's justice.

  • Mankind, both evil and good, spread the news and ponder God's actions. They fear the consequences of being the target of God's just punishment.
  • The righteous rejoice because they recognize God's justice as His tool to protect His people from evil.


Like David, we all experience times of fear. And, like David, the turning point will be when we remember those two words: "but God".

Everything looks different when we realize that God is part of the picture.

I don't want to be misleading. The Bible makes it clear that God does not protect us from all harm. Pain and suffering are the lot of everyone on earth because of sin. But God will take every hurt and use it for good in our lives and to accomplish his purposes. With God in the picture we can rejoice no matter what circumstances we may face.

Jerry Wyrick

This post is part of a series on the Psalms.

by Jerry Wyrick, President of Worship Arts Conservatory

Posted in General Worship, Psalms and tagged .