Safety Amidst Conspiracies

Conspiracies have been common against leaders throughout history. A conspiracy is a secret plot by a group of people to do something harmful or unlawful. Those in collusion deceive in order to gain an unfair advantage, to defraud another of legitimate position, power, or rights.

King David endured several conspiracies during his reign. Psalm 31 is one prayer he wrote in response. There, we read how it felt to him and how he responded. Among other results, the rumors and slanders sometimes alienated his neighbors and friends. Loneliness must have plagued his heart (31:11-12). He heard the slander. He knew that not just his power, but his very life was in danger. “They schemed to take away my life” (31:13). The cold breath of fear brushed against him.

When even your neighbors and friends doubt you or join the collusion, is there any safe place? Physically, a leader is pretty well committed to what he is doing. But what about his heart? David took refuge in God.

You hide them in the secret place of Thy presence from the conspiracies of man;
   You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues. (31:20)

God does the hiding, but David took refuge in Him. Why would David think that the presence of God is a safe place? It is because he trusted that God is good. He wrapped that secret place verse in blankets of God’s goodness:

How great is Your goodness,
   Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
   Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You,
   Before the sons of men!
You hide them in the secret place of Thy presence from the conspiracies of man;
   You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.
Blessed be the Lord,
   For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city. (31:19-21)

In the midst of intrigue and threats to his throne and life, David believed that God is good and would bring all to rights. It isn’t that he went passive and waited for God to do what God has delegated to governing authorities. We know from 2 Samuel that on a civil, legal level, David took wise defensive actions, but he didn’t retaliate for his own glory or because he felt emotionally hurt (offended pride). Nor did he allow sinful responses in his own heart. We don’t see cursing, self-righteous anger, or self-pity. He trusted God and obeyed Him with right attitudes.

Those who plot against legitimate authorities do not fear the Lord. They behave as though they believe “there is no God” (Ps. 14:1), or at least that God is irrelevant or blind to what they’re doing. But God is omniscient. Therefore, while plots might be secret from leadership, they are exposed to God. And while the conspirators cannot see God, He can hide His own in plain sight.

Where is the hiding place? David describes God’s presence as a secret hiding place, also translatable as “thicket.” While the wolves circle, God’s presence provides an impenetrable thicket for the one who fears and trusts the Lord. While the swirling slanders and conspiracies of men bear down with tornado force winds, God’s unseen presence provides a safe storm shelter.

Did David suffer? Yes, though not the kind of destruction that the Lord wrought upon David’s enemies. In the end, God delivered him physically. More importantly, no matter what happened to David, his heart was safe with the Lord.

Who is it that the holy, just God hides in His presence? It isn’t just anyone. After all, sinners will receive His wrath (Eph. 4:3). David narrows the field to those who fear the Lord, those who take refuge in Him.

Very few of us are presidents or prime ministers or kings like David was. The passage can still apply when we reason from greater to lesser. If God can overrule the rich and power, surely he can overrule we who have little power. As to the troubles, although most of us experience nothing as life-threatening as that which King David faced, many have been betrayed or seriously mistreated at some time or another. Pastors, bosses, and other leaders may have actual conspiracies unjustly rise against them. Most of us have been the target of slanderous gossip or of the rivalries of cliques or coworkers. At all levels, knowledge of collusion can tempt a person to worry, fear, resentment, and/or anger.

Instead, those who fear the Lord can follow David’s counsel. We can believe “how great is Your goodness” even when people fire evil words toward us. We can determine to hope in the Lord. Taking refuge in Him, accounting His presence as a safe shelter, is the kind of response made by someone who loves the Lord. In response to his own troubles, David counseled others,

O love the Lord, all you His godly ones (31:23).

Love thinks the best of the other. If we love the Lord, we think the best of Him. We can see in Psalm 31 how David loved the Lord and do the same:

  • Refuse to brood on what offenders say and do. Instead, seek the Lord in prayer (31:1-5).
  • Refuse self-pity. Instead, choose to rejoice in the Lord even while in affliction (31:7).
  • Refuse to retaliate in revenge. Instead, seek the Lord’s grace to continue obeying Him (31:9-10).
  • Refuse to demand relief in your own time. Instead, submit to the Lord’s sovereign plan for us to suffer and His right to choose the time He will deliver (31:14-18).
  • Refuse to fear and imagine the worst. Instead, prayerfully meditate on the promises in His Word and upon His character and wonderful works (31:19-23).
  • Refuse to fear. Instead, discipline yourself to take courage, based upon hope in the Lord (31:24).

God’s goodness is great and His lovingkindness is marvelous. His presence is a safe shelter to those who fear the Lord.

If you or someone you know is the object of slanders, rumors, or conspiracy and threatened with temptations to loneliness, anxiety, or resentment, consider this psalm as a source of counsel. Study this psalm and apply its counsel. Perhaps the bullet points above might help you plan ways to love the Lord in the situation. Here are two examples:

  • Memorize Psalm 31 or at least key verses in it. Then every time you start to brood or worry, repent and prayerfully meditate on the verses.
  • Rejoice. List the attributes of God that David observed and use them in praise to God every night before going to bed.
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About Linda

Wifing, Singing, Studying, Counseling. I counsel at Gateway Biblical Counseling and Training Center. M.A. in Biblical Counseling. Certified by Association of Certified Biblical Counselors
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