Let’s take this Psalm to pieces – you can do this with me now.
Vv1&2 – a repeated request for God to hear the prayer of the Psalmist. A summary of what the Psalm is about.
V3 – I’m going to pray, and wait to hear.
V4-6 – the character of God which prompts the Psalmist to pray: God doesn’t like evil or those who do evil. They don’t get to spend time in God’s presence.
V7 – but, in contrast, those who have received mercy (i.e. the Psalmist) can come into the temple to pray. Here’s the foundation on which the prayer – which we’re about to get to – is based. God doesn’t welcome the wicked into his presence, but he does make time for the humble. Not basing his prayer on righteousness, but on humility. Opposite of arrogance.
So then in vv8-10, we get the first half of the prayer. Frustrate and defeat the wicked. Banish them. Thees may well be the enemies of the King, and therefore of the Nation. Or maybe just personal enemies. The Psalmist (wisely) is deferring to God and asking for God to declare his enemies guilty.
Then v11 – the reverse side of the prayer. Protect ‘the righteous’. Align life in accordance with the way it should be. A great description of God’s people here: Those who take refuge in God; those who sing for joy in Him; those who love His name.
And finally, the expression of faith. V12. Surely this is how the world is.
But it isn’t, is it.
How is the world not like this?
The righteous are not always protected.
The wicked prosper.
Those who lie are not judged or found out.
The righteous are not ‘favoured’
Why not? What is the purpose of the Psalm if it isn’t so?
Tension. Prayer is holding up to reality a picture of what should be, and saying to God: “Make it as it should be”.