The Righteous One’s
Assurance as Arrows Fly

a brief study of Psalm 64, adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 22 August 2008

Psalm 64 may be known as an archer’s psalm. It is not very well-known. Most of us will know Psalm 63 and Psalm 65, but we will draw a blank when we are asked about Psalm 64. Yet is a very useful psalm—not so much to encourage archery, but to encourage ourselves when we see arrows flying in a political circumstance, or when fear seems to pierce our heart like stray arrows.

It has been conjectured that this psalm might have been written by David when he was a young man who had just entered into the service of Saul.

David, who had no political experience, was cast into political limelight by his defeat of Goliath and the honour that the king and his son Jonathan had accorded him. Those who are in the political limelight, especially those who are godly and principled can expect many arrows and secret darts to fly in their direction.

We think of what happened to Joseph amongst his brothers. We think of Daniel in the court of king Nebuchednezzar. But most of all, we think of the experience of our Lord Jesus, in whose Spirit David wrote this psalm.

Those who would imitate the Lord, and seek to be righteous as He is righteous will experience the fears and exasperation that our Lord experienced, that are expressed in this psalm.

We may entitle this psalm: “The Righteous One’s Assurance as Arrows Fly.”

This psalm has 2 parts. In the first part, verses 1-6, we see arrows flying toward the Righteous One. In the second part, verses 7-10, we see the arrow of God flying towards the Wicked.

1. Arrows of the Wicked Targeting
the Righteous

1  Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy.

Fear is a very human emotion. He who has no fear is not human. Our Lord feared in the days of His humiliation. He is fully-God, and fully-Man.

What shall we do when we fear? Our Lord prayed. The writer of Hebrews inform us that He prayed with “strong crying and tears,… and was heard in that he feared” (Heb 5:7). He subdued His fear of the creature with a fear of God.

We must follow our example of the Lord to pray. How to pray? We may pray in two ways in regard to our fear.

Firstly, we may pray for the removal of that which causes our fear. But when we do so, it must always be conditioned upon the Father’s will. Our Lord prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Take this cup from me, yet not my will, but thy will be done.”

But secondly, we may pray that God will help our fears by increasing our faith, our courage and our strength. In this case, we may pray absolutely, for it is always God’s will for believers to have victory over the fear of man and circumstance.

This is the prayer offered by David and the greater David when he says: “preserve my life from fear of the enemy.

And so too the subsequent verses:

2 Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity: 3 Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words: 4 That they may shoot in secret at the perfect: suddenly do they shoot at him, and fear not. 5 They encourage themselves in an evil matter: they commune of laying snares privily; they say, Who shall see them?   6 They search out iniquities [i.e. they plot and scheme]; they accomplish a diligent search: both the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart, is deep.  

Who are the wicked and the workers of iniquity? They are the devil and his seed. Some are overtly haters of God whereas others are covertly so. There are many who will call unto the Lord, and in the last day say, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?” who will hear the Lord say, “I know you not …depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity” (Lk 13:27).

In this life, these will target the Righteous. They targeted the Lord Jesus. They continue to target those who are united to Him, who are righteous because He is righteous, and known as perfect because He is perfect.

How do they target the Righteous One and His disciples? They use their tongues like swords and arrows. Sometimes, they hack away in a way that the Righteous cannot defend themselves. Other times, they shoot out arrows secretly. They spread rumours and slander. They scheme and plot to assassinate the character of the Righteous.

Did it not happen in the days of our Lord? How did so great a multitude eventually turn against the Lord, but that there were arrows flying from all direction against Him, for which He could not defend Himself?

Today, things are no different, only that the arrows are quicker and moret sophisticated, such as emails and SMS’es, sometimes, anonymous ones too. They shoot in secret, and fear not. They encourage themselves, saying, “Who shall see them?” (Vs 4-5).

As our Lord suffered, so did David, so did Joseph, so did Daniel, so would those who would follow the Lord. But God will not sit idly when His sons and daughters are being shot at.

So we see in the second part of this psalm…

2. The Arrow of God Targeting
the Wicked

7 But God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded.  8 So they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves: all that see them shall flee away.

The enemies of the Righteous One shoot their arrows. The righteous ones cannot shoot back. If their enemy had used a sword in unjust criticism, they would have the right to fight back with the sword of the Spirit. But if the enemy shoots arrows of rumours, gossips and anonymous slanders, then the righteous ones may not respond in kind.

But the Lord who says, “Vengeance belong to me” will not stand idly by. He will, as it were, shoot back.

God’s arrows are precisely aimed. He knows exactly who shot the arrows at His children. He would even pick up their arrows to shoot back. “So they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves” (v. 8).

History is replete with illustration of how God deals with His enemies. The Assyrians who tormented the people of God in the North were defeated by the Babylonians. The Babylonians who slaughtered the people of God in the South were defeated by the Persians, etc.

And so Jerusalem that shot arrows against the Righteous One and His disciples was over-ran by the Roman army under the leadership of General Titus.

And likewise, at the individual level, it often happens that those who persecute God’s children find themselves the object of God’s temporal judgement, as Solomon observed: “Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him” (Prov 26:27).

Wherefore? Verse 9—

9 And all men shall fear, and shall declare the work of God; for they shall wisely consider of his doing.

Those who remain hardened in sin will tremble for fear of judgement. But those with eyes of faith shall see the hand of God in the events of this present life. A godly fear will arise in their heart as they declare that it is God who brings all things to pass by His wisdom, and sovereign power and His jealousy for His children. They shall transfer their fear of persons and circumstances to a fear of God. The fear of God shall subdue their fear of persons and circumstances. Our Lord was heard in that He feared God (Heb 5:7).

But complete justice will be reserved for the eternal day.

10 The righteous shall be glad in the LORD, and shall trust in him; and all the upright in heart shall glory.

The righteous, being assured of God’s vindication, shall be glad in Him and trust Him.

The righteous, seeing God’s providential vindication shall have their faith strengthened.

The righteous and the upright in heart, seeing God’s perfect justice being enacted on behalf of His children at the general judgement shall praise and glorify God forever and ever.


When our Lord was suffering for us, He suffered in many ways—physical, spiritual and emotional. One of the ways He suffered was through the sharp arrows of the enemies of God which, as it were, flew by night. Our Lord committed Himself to the Father, and looked to Him to allay His fears.

Today, as the disciples of Christ, we are also confronted by sharp arrows—of sharp tongues and pointing fingers. The servants are not greater than their master. But we can have the assurance not only that our Master understands, but that our Master will see to it that justice will be done for those who seek Him and remain meek for His name’s sake. Amen.

—JJ Lim