As we read into the middle section of this psalm (vv 12 – 21) we find a poetic device at work to emphasize the only source of hope for the psalmist, salvation by the Lord. Notice how the dangers bracket the redeemer:
Bulls, Lions, Dogs
Hope in the Redeemer
Dogs, Lions, Bulls
Nearly all of us can identify with the despair of the psalmist as our troubles surround us on all sides, threatening to engulf us. The vicious nature of one’s enemies is on full display; the lions roar their deafening cry while tearing at the flesh, the horns of the bulls glisten red in the light as they snort and bring their enormous bulk closer and closer and, all the while, the snarling dogs snap and dodge, circling around their prey. Their teeth pierce the hands and feet of the besieged as he grows weaker and weaker.
I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. (vv 17-18)
There is always hope, even if it is not restored in this life. We are children of the Lord and despite our current danger, we will rest in the safety of his hand knowing that our circumstances serve the greater purpose of God.
But you, O Lord, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.
Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs.
Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen. (vv 19 – 21)