Sometimes we need our enemies to help us define who we are. More often, we need to go through trials so that we can recognize our weakness and vulnerability and the reliance we have in our God.
1-2 God! Look! Enemies past counting! Enemies sprouting like mushrooms,
Mobs of them all around me, roaring their mockery:
“Hah! No help for him from God!”
3-4 But you, God, shield me on all sides;
You ground my feet, you lift my head high;
With all my might I shout up to God,
His answers thunder from the holy mountain.
5-6 I stretch myself out. I sleep.
Then I’m up again—rested, tall and steady,
Fearless before the enemy mobs
Coming at me from all sides.
7 Up, God! My God, help me!
Slap their faces,
First this cheek, then the other,
Your fist hard in their teeth!
8 Real help comes from God.
Your blessing clothes your people!
A David Psalm
1 Light, space, zest— that’s God!
So, with him on my side I’m fearless,
afraid of no one and nothing.
2 When vandal hordes ride down
ready to eat me alive,
Those bullies and toughs
fall flat on their faces.
3 When besieged,
I’m calm as a baby.
When all hell breaks loose,
I’m collected and cool.
4 I’m asking God for one thing,
only one thing:
To live with him in his house
my whole life long.
I’ll contemplate his beauty;
I’ll study at his feet.
5 That’s the only quiet, secure place
in a noisy world,
The perfect getaway,
far from the buzz of traffic.
6 God holds me head and shoulders
above all who try to pull me down.
I’m headed for his place to offer anthems
that will raise the roof!
Already I’m singing God-songs;
I’m making music to God.
7-9 Listen, God, I’m calling at the top of my lungs:
“Be good to me! Answer me!”
When my heart whispered, “Seek God,”
my whole being replied,
“I’m seeking him!”
Don’t hide from me now!
9-10 You’ve always been right there for me;
don’t turn your back on me now.
Don’t throw me out, don’t abandon me;
you’ve always kept the door open.
My father and mother walked out and left me,
but God took me in.
11-12 Point me down your highway, God;
direct me along a well-lighted street;
show my enemies whose side you’re on.
Don’t throw me to the dogs,
those liars who are out to get me,
filling the air with their threats.
13-14 I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness
in the exuberant earth.
Stay with God!
Take heart. Don’t quit.
I’ll say it again:
Stay with God.
The language is filled with confidence, the mood is exuberant- like a song of joy along this journey of faith. David knows the LORD well and describes Him from his own experiences.
As light and salvation, a stronghold, beautiful in His temple ( still a tabernacle or tent at this point.) David has come through some nasty situations and uses them as a springboard to praise. His past burdens and narrow escapes have become areas of strength. His enemies helped David get a clearer vision of the Love and protection and provision of God in his life.
David’s present song comes from his previous fears and shaken faith- in his darkest hours, he reaches out toward the light of the LORD , when caught in a trap, he recognized the salvation offered by his savior , when camped upon a lonely plain, only God was his stronghold. In the midst of slander, siege, war and personal attacks, he know he will prevail because the LORD is his beautiful safe place, keeping him like a protected guest hidden away from harm.
He ends this psalm with strong testimony of God’s goodness The secret of this witness is in the heart of faith – verse 3 of psalm 27 says ” my heart will not fear”. God can help us conquer fear when we obey faithfully and learn to worship Him, walk with Him, and wait for His leading and presence.
David has learned to trust in God. And so must I learn that lesson. Over and over I need to learn that even in the most dire danger and fearful moments I cannot trust in my own strength or wits. I have watched too many action films and read too many comic books where men are the heroes of the story. I want to rely on myself- I want to succeed in the face of my enemies by my own rights.
But over time, it has become clear that it is by God’s grace and protection that I have overcome life’s obstacles. It is only through His mercy that I have not been consumed and succumbed to the sinful habits and unhealthy practices that I am so prone to follow. I only know righteousness when I remain in His presence. I am on a journey, but not by myself. I walk with fellow believers, following the paths that were laid out for us by our loving Father. We travel together, sharing our stories of salvation- the testimonies of victories we have experienced and as we share we come to recognize that it is Christ who has won our victories- Christ who is the captain of our salvation.
Our enemies help us to define who we are, but it is Jesus Christ who gives us our identity.