3 When my enemies turn back,
they stumble and perish before your presence.
4 For you have maintained my just cause;
you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment.
5 You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish;
you have blotted out their name forever and ever.
6 The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins;
their cities you rooted out;
the very memory of them has perished.
David begins this psalm exalting the Lord, and he now turns to the reasons for praise. His “I will” statements of vv. 1–2 turn into “you have” statements in these verses. These verses, then, give us a picture of the thanksgiving that should accompany our petitions to God.
First, the Lord has always done what’s right. In dealing with the enemies of David, God upholds the righteous position of David as king. He recognizes that David has a “just cause,” that he has a righteous standing. Since God had anointed David as king, and the king is following the Lord, God judges David’s enemies as they are—rebels against the Most High God. That’s why the godless “stumble and perish before [God’s] presence,” not before David’s.
Second, the Lord has always dealt with problems completely. David continues to acknowledge what “you have” done. The Lord speaks to the nations in wrath and fury (2:5), and the result is utter destruction. Just as an ancient writing tablet could be scraped clean and re-written, blotting out the information that was there, God will wipe them from existence.
As an example, scoffers used to reference the Hittites as evidence against Scripture because we could find no archaeological evidence that they had ever existed. However, we found that evidence in the twentieth century, and an entire field of study called “Hittitology” arose as a result. An entire nation disappearing from the annuals of history outside of Scripture is a small example of what God can accomplish.
When God fights the battle, He completely wins. The enemies of Israel may say, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!” (Ps 83:4). However, they won’t be remembered, but “the Lord sits enthroned forever (v. 7). Our confidence must be in what God does for us, and we must never neglect what He has already done.