How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. — Psalm 36:7
The Bolivar Point Lighthouse in Texas was put into service on November 19, 1872. Through the years, the light atop the 117-foot iron fortress guided many ships safely through storms and hurricanes.
Harry Claiborne was the lighthouse keeper at Bolivar Point when the Great Hurricane of 1900 inundated Galveston Island with five feet of water. During the height of the storm, which occurred on September 8, over 120 people sought protection inside the strong walls of the lighthouse. They seated themselves by twos on the tower’s spiral staircase, huddling together as 140 miles-per-hour winds raged around them. When the flood waters receded from the base of the lighthouse, it was found that the hurricane had destroyed most of the city of Galveston, and many in the surrounding area had died. However, all those in the tower were safe.
A similar type of hurricane hit Bolivar Point on August 16-17 of 1915. That time, sixty people found protection in the mighty sea fortress. The assistant keeper reported that the top of the tower “shook and swayed in the wind like a giant reed.” Although significant damage was done to the lens mechanism and the keeper’s dwelling, once again all those in the lighthouse were protected.
In our focus verse, David extolled the steadfast love of God. Just as the Bolivar Point Lighthouse offered protection from the storm to those who took shelter within its strong walls, God offers protection from the storms of life for all those who put their trust under the shadow of His wings.
Like David of old, one contemporary songwriter put this thought into words.
So let the storms rage high,
The dark clouds rise,
They won’t worry me;
For I’m sheltered safe within the arms of God.
He walks with me,
And naught of earth shall harm me,
For I’m sheltered in the arms of God.(1)
Are you facing peril today? Many types of storms can come into our lives. Whether the “winds” that buffet us are physical, emotional, or spiritual in nature, we have a sure refuge we can flee to. David proved that truth, and so can we!
Psalm 35 is an imprecatory psalm (a psalm that invokes judgment, calamity, or curses, upon one’s enemies, or upon those perceived as the enemies of God). It is identified as a psalm of David, and is a prayer in the time of personal peril. David prayed for God to intervene on his behalf and defend him as he faced three threats that were beyond his control: physical danger, false accusation, and betrayal.
In these first three verses, David may have been referring to opposition in general. However, as the psalm progresses, the specifics become increasingly personal. The description of the enemy in verse 4 as those who sought after his soul and devised his hurt suggests that individuals close to the psalmist had developed bitter enmity against him.
The graphic imagery, use of military terms, and sudden transitions of this psalm are all typical of David’s style, especially in his earlier days. This may indicate that it was written during the time when David was being pursued by King Saul and his men (1 Samuel 20-26). Verse 7 may allude to King Saul, as it describes an enemy who without cause set a snare for David.
In verse 15, the exact meaning of the “abjects” who gathered themselves together against David has been debated and variously translated as “outcasts,” “smiters,” and “slanderers.” Whatever the precise meaning, the sense of the passage is obvious: those whom David once had considered as friends had turned on him with slanderous lies. David’s plea in verse 17 for God to “rescue… my darling” could be literally translated as “rescue… my only one,” in reference to David’s one and only life. In verse 19, the phrase “wink with the eye” refers to a victor who in this manner shows gleeful satisfaction at his triumph over the one he conquered.
David ended the psalm with a plea for God to vindicate him and respond with justice to his enemies, and pledged once again to praise God upon his deliverance.
Psalm 36 is classified as a wisdom psalm which contrasts the wickedness of man with the steadfastness of God. Described by Bible scholars as an individual lament, the psalm is dedicated to the chief Musician. David is traditionally credited with authorship.
The first four verses tell of the corruption that exists in the heart of the godless, while verses 5-9 relate to the character of God. In the last section of the psalm, verses 10-12, David asked the Lord to continue His goodness towards the upright and to keep him from pride, which caused the downfall of the wicked.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. Book I (1:1 — 41:13)
II. Book II (42:1 — 72:20)
III. Book III (73:1 — 89:52)
IV. Book IV (90:1 — 106:48)
V. Book V (107:1 — 150:6)
As David proved, God’s faithfulness, protection, lovingkindness, and care are always available for those who trust Him.
1. Dottie Rambo and Jimmie Davis, “Sheltered in the Arms of God,” ©1969, 1997 Peermusic, Ltd.