Saturday, October 26, 2013

Psalm 31

Blessed be Yahweh, for He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city, Psalms 31:21.

A city under siege is a city cutoff. When an enemy besieges a city the goal is to isolate the city, to reduce it to hunger and thirst, to wear down its inhabitants, and ultimately force the city’s surrender. A city under siege looks for help from the outside, knowing that resources within the city must ultimately vanish; both besieged and besieger know it is only a matter of time before the city capitulates unless it receives outside help.

Peoples in ancient times knew the danger of a siege; being caught in a besieged city without hope of relief was a death knell; history is replete with accounts of sieges in which the besieged were massacred in retribution for holding out against the attacker – besieging armies are not known for mercy.

Against this backdrop the psalmist writes of God, He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city. Against all appearances those who know God are better off in a besieged city than all the armies of might arrayed against them; while unmerciful enemies may besiege the people of God the mercy and lovingkindness of God sustains His people and they need not fear.

One of the many dangers of looking at appearances and responding to them is that we end up using natural weapons and natural thinking rather than relying on the Holy Spirit and the Word of God and learning to see things as God sees them. Paul writes that the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly but mighty to the pulling down of strongholds; he also writes that we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers – our fight is not to be in the arena of flesh but in the realm of the spiritual, not in the seen but in the unseen. What we see with natural eyes is a distraction if we respond in kind; the temporal diverts us from the eternal. When God’s people are besieged they have the enemy surrounded.

2 Kings 6:8 – 23 relates an account of a city under siege, while not all inhabitants of the city of Dothan were followers of the true and living God, the prophet Elisha and his servant were enough to protect the city, in fact, the besieging army was there to capture Elisha – God’s people attract God’s enemies; the enemies of God need not attack cities that pose no threat to them.

We read in this passage, Now when the servant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Yahweh, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And Yahweh opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

No doubt the enemy surrounding Dothan thought they had it made, and no doubt Elisha’s servant thought all was lost; however Elisha saw with different eyes and the eyes of the invading army were made blind – of course in one sense they were blind from the beginning because they could not see the reality of the true and living God. Those who eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil have their physical eyes opened, but the opening of physical eyes and reliance on them results in spiritual blindness – it was so in Eden, it was so in Dothan, and it is so today.

We need not fear when we are surrounded by troubles, by enemies, by turmoil; for the true and living God and His Son Jesus Christ are with us and as John writes, Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. When we find ourselves in a besieged city let us look to the lovingkindness of God and rejoice…for we have the enemy surrounded.   

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