Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – May 7, 2020
I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so I shall be saved from my enemies. Psalm 18:1-3
If I’m honest, over the years I’ve often struggled to engage the full range of emotions that we find in the Psalms, especially as it relates to the desperate need for deliverance from a pursuing enemy. I’ve assumed this must be the special plight of kings and military leaders, and while I hope and pray to also have a heart after God, the similarities between me and King David are few and far between. I make it a point to keep short accounts and live in peace with everyone I know. In fact, I can’t think of a single person that I would classify as an “enemy.” I imagine most of you are the same. And so, from whom then do you and I need deliverance?
According to verse 17 of this Psalm, an enemy is anyone, or anything, that is “too mighty for me.” Over the past few months, we as humans have battled an unseen enemy that has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands and infected millions more. By almost every metric, this pandemic is an enemy that is too mighty for us, with leaders and officials around the world daily questioning how they can possibly find a way through this chaos. And while this may feel new and novel to many of us today, this is not the first time humans have felt helpless in the face of so great an enemy. It is for this reason that countless prayers for deliverance from plague and pestilence can be found in Christian traditions throughout the world and across many centuries.
We can and should pray for deliverance from this pandemic, asking our Lord in his strength to confront our enemy and comfort us in our weakness. But here’s the heart of what I want us to reflect upon today: Psalm 18 is not simply a prayer for a pandemic but is meant to be the cry of every heart in every age, including times of great peace and prosperity. It’s easy to resonate with this ancient prayer when faced with such great pain, loss, anxiety and fear. Yet there are even greater enemies than the coronavirus, and they will persist long after this virus runs its course.
Guided by the Holy Spirit, the early Christians began to read the Psalms through a particular lens. They saw in these ancient stories of battle a type or a pattern of the struggle for virtue and holiness in which every single Christian is engaged. While you and I may not have an enemy in the traditional sense of the word, who hasn’t been so overcome by anger that they feel helpless to hold off its power? Who hasn’t encountered fear that incapacitates you and leaves you paralyzed? Can you think of moments of great envy, greed, or covetousness, longing for the success, beauty, health, or material goods of someone else?
The enemies that are easiest to ignore often carry the greatest power over our lives. In times of pandemic or in plenty, these enemies root into our hearts and lives and threaten to overcome us and steal our joy and our peace. And so, as we acknowledge our weakness and inability to free ourselves, we turn to one mightier and stronger than ourselves and our greatest enemies. As the Psalmist says:
“He brought me out into a broad place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me” (Psalm 18:19).
Father, help us to see our enemies but more importantly, to see your strength and ability to conquer everything that seeks our harm or destruction. Thank you that you are good and delight in your children. Amen.
Where are you under attack from unseen enemies, and what does it look like for you to turn to the Lord as your source of hope and deliverance?
Here is a helpful resource during these days of grief, sorrow and uncertainty: A Little Book of Comfort
There are even greater enemies than the coronavirus, and they will persist long after this virus runs its course. #wisdomhunters #enemies #truth #Jesus
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