“Judge me, O God, and surely contend for me with the ungodly nations;
From men of fraud and iniquity, save me.”
It has been suggested by Biblical scholars that when you have a psalm that does not begin with a superscript (like “A Maskil of the Sons of Korah…), the psalm is either part of or shares the superscription of the psalm that goes before it. In this case, making such a connection is a rather easy one as verse five contains the refrain: “Why do you despair, O my soul?” Thus, this psalm should also be understood as having been written by the sons of Korah who were given the gift of redemption in spite of their father’s rebellion.
There are three basic requests that the psalmist is lifting up. The first is to judge or to evaluate his heart. In essence, what he is saying is that he has acted uprightly and there is yet persecution upon him from the outside. What is important to note is not so much that the psalmist is facing persecution, such is normative for a life of faith, but that the psalmist will run to refuge to his God. How too, we must do the same, though we so often try and solve all of our problems on our own.
The second and third petitions are closely tied together. First, he asks that God would contend on his behalf (as a lawyer might do) with the nations or peoples who are acting in an ungodly manner toward him. Secondly, he asks that God preserves him from those men who would lie to him or sin against him. In a way, there is an intensification taking on here with these two ideas placed together in parallel structure. In the first of these two cases, the psalmist is asking for an advocate in court—working within a legal structure. There is a sense, then, that the enemy here is working under a degree of restraint in that there are just reasons for a legal defense. In the second clause about the deceivers and sinners, the psalmist is simply interested in one thing: deliverance.
Beloved, how we have a God to whom we can run when our pursuers are wickedness and disaster. How he provides a sanctuary for his own, but how rarely we choose to find sanctuary in his arms. How often we think we can stand on our own—imagining ourselves to be the mighty man standing against all obstacles, yet end up in abject failure. Beloved, learn from the psalmist and cry out to God in your danger and distress. He is faithful to deliver you from the hands of those who would destroy.