Tag Archive: enemies


Another Psalm begins with David in trouble, railing against his enemies [this time we more specifically know they are men who have been sent by Saul to watch his house] and what is great again is that we see where David turns to:

1 Deliver me from my enemies, O God;
    be my fortress against those who are attacking me.
2 Deliver me from evildoers
    and save me from those who are after my blood.

We don’t know it’s his first point of turning [for most of us it rarely is, right?] but whether it is or not, we get the sense of his trust and reliance on God with terms like ‘fortress’ and phrases like ‘deliver me’. David always seems to end up at the feet of God when he has trouble [and fortunately when he is full of praise] as opposed to letting trouble in his life send him running away from God. If we only draw close to God when things are going well, that says a lot about our relationship with God. In the same way, if we only draw close to God when things go badly, that also says a lot. A good relationship stays consistent through good and bad. Whatever comes my way I will face it knowing God is with me.

What is great about this psalm [as it is with so many of them] is the honesty. This is not great theology David is throwing out here, it is human emotion in whatever words he has at his disposal. We can see this as he goes from show no mercy to wicked traitors [verse 5] to But do not kill them, Lord our shield, or my people will forget [verse 11] and then to consume them in your wrath, consume them till they are no more so a little bit of contradiction happening here which just gives an indication that this is more an expression of how David is feeling right now, than an accurate portrayal of what he actually thinks God is going to do. We see this later when David has at least two opportunities in caves to kill Saul and chooses not to.

What is particularly great about this psalm is that David starts and ends with God. There appears to be a danger of him losing it during the piece and getting caught up in the enemy-bashing but it’s almost as if he checks himself and ends once more with a focus on who God is and what He will do. Reminding himself why he ended up there again.

16 But I will sing of your strength,
    in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
    my refuge in times of trouble.

17 You are my strength, I sing praise to you;
    you, God, are my fortress,
    my God on whom I can rely.

 [To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

a few years ago i visited new york with a good buddy of mine, justin paton, and one of the touristy things we came across was the Charging Bull, a 3,200-kg (7,100 lb) bronze sculpture by Arturo Di Modica that stands Wall Street in Manhattan.

being a touristy symbol, we had to wait a fair amount of time to get a picture with it and so naturally when we did i had to be a little different and took some ‘grabbing the bull by the balls’ shots [a cousin to the ‘when life gives you lemons’ metaphor]

why? because you only live once and so why have the same picture everyone else has? [as Garfield would say, ‘why be Nermal?’]

life has got to be seized by the… um, opportunities as you only get one shot at it [on this side of heaven, anyways] and so how is it possible that so many people give in to living mediocrely [i was going to say “choose” but i don’t honestly believe anyone chooses to be mediocre, i just think people tend to give in, or get tired, or settle and suddenly there it is] but not me! this guy chooses to live. and to live well. LIFE TO THE FULL!

it helps that one of the central ideas of the religious faith i hold to is this same idea, where in John 10.10 Jesus says to His followers, ‘the thief [enemy] comes to steal and kill and destroy, but i have come that you may have life, and have it to the full!’

it is pretty much a command from the God i follow that we must live life well here [not just in preparation for what might come later as many have sadly made it] – but right here, right now.

and living to the full, according to Jesus, includes such diverse (and exciting) elements as… loving your enemies, offering forgiveness to anyone who has hurt you, finding a way to connect with and enrich the lives of those considered as ‘the least of these’ [with a special emphasis on widows and orphans] and teaching others the things that Jesus has taught you.

this thing is not going to be boring, and if it is, we have somehow missed the point.

so next time you find yourself standing near to a touristy attraction and someone with a camera is standing by, think out of the box and let your creativity loose and who knows how it will affect the rest of your life…

‘Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.’ [vs. 7]

this brings to mind the more well known psalm 46.10 line of ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’

i use this verse a lot when writing welcome letters to people coming to visit the Simple Way as i think that sometimes the best thing for a lot of people is to be still [from the busyness and business of their daily lives and stresses and ministries and relationships] and to stop. and then to know [like really be aware of and believe and trust and acknowledge] that He is God.

i read once that there are two rules to life:

[1] there is only one God
[2] it is not you!

that can be a refreshing, freeing thought. as much as i like to think i hold the universe in the balance and that if i don’t do this thing or make that thing happen then who else possibly could or will?

there is a God. He is bigGER.

and because doing this is more important than writing about it, i am going to grab my cup of brewed coffee right now and actually interrupt the writing of this blog to go and do likewise [but don’t worry, if you keep reading it will seem like i never left]

ah.

it is a good thing to be able to distinguish between ‘be still and ask’ or ‘be still and try and think of a solution to the problem i am facing’ to simple ‘be still and know’ – i don’t take enough time to do that, but each time i do, it is so, so powerful

STOP RIGHT NOW. give yourself a minute. just focus on those words, close your eyes and be still and KNOW that He. Is. God.

it was on a top bunk bed in the YWAM base in a town called Chigamula outside Blantyre in Malawi in 2000 when i was on my outreach for the DTS course i had done that i went to bed wrestling with my faith and whether i really believed the stuff i had for my whole life – it was a moment of truth moment – followed by being awakened by people coming into the room at a crazy hour in the morning and news of two groups of people ascending the hill towards the base and the idea that i was about to be savagely hacked to pieces and this was it – what do you believe? – that my conclusion came really as a summing up of those words – i know that i know [that’s really all i had left]

and i haven’t looked back. clearly the near-death experience [in my head, at least] ended well, but what came out of it was knowing what i absolutely believe and just really KNOW.

it is important to keep returning to that place of being still and just soaking in the knowing of His Godness.

because when that happens well, then the next part happens more naturally: ‘do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.’ it comes out of a place of, ‘i don’t need to fret – God has this’

and ‘God having this’ does not mean i won’t get hurt or it won’t be uncomfortable or even that i, or the people i love, will be kept from harm… it is partially an awareness of a bigger picture that involves both life here and life beyond, a God centered kingdom that is more about Him than me, but which i have been graciously invited to be a part of.

and then finally, one of the last verses of this psalm which is maybe just something to reflect on:
‘Consider the blameless, observe the upright; there is a future for the man of peace.’ [vs. 37]

being a ‘man of peace’ means more than just not engaging in violence, but taking it to the whole new level of loving your enemies which Jesus both spoke about and lived out, and that has been possibly one of the biggest lessons or areas of growth that has happened in me since moving to this neighborhood altho it is definitely something we still wrestle with a lot in terms of what it looks like and how it plays out.

to head back to part i

we read this as part of morning prayer this morning:

‘Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Jesus Christ lived in the midst of His enemies. At the end, all of His disciples deserted Him. On the cross He was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause He had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life, but in the thick of foes.”‘ [from Common Prayer: a liturgy for ordinary radicals, April 9th]

Jesus’ call is for us to love God and love people, and to make disciples of all men, teaching them to obey everything He taught us… we can’t do that from a distance. it requires genuine relationship.

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