O LORD, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me, many are saying of my soul, “There is no hope for him in God.” But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head.
After the prelude of Psalms 1 & 2 Psalm 3 finds us in the thick of life; Psalm 1 portrays two ways for individuals, Psalm 2 portrays two ways for peoples and nations; Psalm 3 is the first of many Psalms that portray the struggle of the righteous in the midst of the wicked.
It is helpful to me to remember Paul’s words in Ephesians Chapter 6, that our warfare is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers; and his words in 2Corinthians 10:3: For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh… When we forget these words we are apt to think that people are our enemies and place our focus, and sometimes our hatred, on people rather than on the forces behind the people. It is difficult (impossible?) to hopefully pray for others when we hate them for we cannot love them and hate them at the same time – not really.
I have found that the lingering enemies in my life are often within me; yes temptation comes from without, but the response to temptation comes from within – resisting temptation comes from Christ, entertaining temptation comes from me.
If persecuted Christians through the ages had viewed their tormentors as their enemies in the sense of being sources of evil they could not have prayed and lived and died for their salvation – the concentration camp guards were the focus of love and prayer for Betsy and Corrie ten Boom, not the objects of anger and hatred.
To be sure other people can be agents of opposition, but as Paul writes of Alexander the coppersmith, it is best to let the Lord reward those folks, in the meantime we can learn to turn the other cheek. (How about someone writing a book titled, “How to Turn the Other Cheek”? Would it be a best seller?)
Throughout the Psalms the writers affirm who God is and what God does; but You, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head. I have found that it is better to focus on God than on myself, than on my meager resources, than on the opposition of others, than on my circumstances. After all, we were placed here to worship God so if we make worship our priority then we begin at the beginning each new day and in each new set of circumstances. Ah but it is so easy for me to forget these things in the midst of countless phone calls and text messages and emails – it is so easy for me to get caught up in life’s cacophony and adopt the insanity of escalating action and reaction.
And if I adopt the world’s values and opinions then I may very well think…if even only for a moment…there is no deliverance for him in God. Who do I choose to listen to? What do I choose to listen to? What is the music of my soul – the music of heaven or the music of earth? What is my native language – that of the Kingdom of Heaven or the Babel of the earth?
At the end of the day it is good to remind myself: Salvation belongs to the LORD.