Wednesday, February 5, 2014

When Enemies Loom Large

Psalm 5 tells the troubled heart where to find hope in the face of circumstances or enemies more powerful than itself. I can imagine Israel singing this psalm in times of trouble and learning from it the best course of action.
Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament. Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:1-3)
There were many places David could have taken his cry for help when his enemies abounded. He could have assembled his mighty warriors to create a battle plan. He could have entreated a neighboring country to come to his aide. He could have tried to blunt the worry of his troubles through drink and other pleasures. But David runs to the Lord. He prays persistently morning by morning, placing his needs before the Lord while he waits in faith.

Do you face troubles or enemies today that are more than you can handle on your own? Pray persistently in faith.

But David does not stop at prayer. He intentionally shifts his perspective from the difficulty of his circumstances to the excellence of his God.
For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness; with you, evil people are not welcome. The arrogant cannot stand in your presence. You hate all who do wrong; you destroy those who tell lies. The bloodthirsty and deceitful you, Lord, detest. But I, by your great love, can come into your house; in reverence I bow down toward your holy temple. (Psalm 5:4-7)
There are times in this world, when your circumstances will not align with what you know to be true of God's character. In those times you can either focus on your circumstances or you can focus on God's character. This world is unjust. It is filled with our sin and thus is filled with pain. This is the very reason we look forward to heaven. It is there that justice will be served finally. It is there that every tear will be wiped away. In the meantime, when the cruelty of this world finds your door, run to the Lord for help. Comfort yourself with the truth that He intervenes even in the here and now. And remind yourself of His righteous character: that He judges the wicked and upholds the righteous. When your whole world seems hopeless, take comfort in the truths of who God is. Trust that His character has not changed and that He will bring justice eventually.

Having reminded himself of God's impending judgment on the wicked, David appeals to the Lord for aid in maintaining his own righteousness.
Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies— make your way straight before me. (Psalm 5:8)
Apart from some level of righteousness we have no reason to expect God to rescue us from our enemies. If we are in fact the wicked, then our circumstances just may be God's judgment on our sin. Thankfully, God has extended an offer of grace to all sinners. Because of Christ, we can all accept His forgiveness and ask Him to lead us in righteousness from this point forward.

David prays specifically for God to defeat his enemies in verses nine and ten then finishes his song with one last request of the Lord and one statement of praise.
But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5:11-12)
After lifting his prayer up persistently to the Lord, reminding Himself of God's great character, and establishing his right relationship with the Lord, David is now free to praise God in faith. David honors the Lord by stating that He blesses and protects the righteous. This act of worship is also an act of expectant faith for David. He praises God, and in the same sentence foreshadows what His faith tells him the Lord will do for Him.

Sooner or later trouble finds us all. It is the nature of the world we live in. When it does find you, remember this psalm. Pray persistently to the only one who controls your destiny. Shift your perspective from focusing on how big your problems are to focusing on how great your God is. Make sure that you are right with the Lord so that nothing in your relationship prevents Him from acting on your behalf. Then praise the Lord in faith for all that you expect He will do for you.

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