If you’re doing Tim Keller’s The Songs of Jesus devotional book this year (it was the “everyone gets a copy” stocking stuffer in the Berndt house and, even though it’s only been a few days, it’s safe to say that the book has already gotten way more use than the posture braces that Santa left under the tree in 2013), you read Psalm 3 this week. It’s a short one, and for those who don’t have the Keller book or a Bible handy, here it is:
Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.”
But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain.
I lie down in sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.
Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.
From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.
Now, there was a time when I would have read this psalm (or similar ones where David is getting chased by people who want to kill him) and think, “I can’t really relate.” I mean, I don’t feel like I have a lot of “foes” or people who “assail me on every side.” I love the parts in Psalm 3 about God answering me or helping me sleep in peace, but breaking teeth? Excuse me? I can’t think of anyone (even those girls who would never sit with me at lunch, back in middle school) that I would wish that one on.
And I said as much to my running partner, Lynne. She’s my go-to gal on a lot of Bible head-scratchers, and she fielded this one with her customary wisdom and grace.
“Jodie,” she said, “you might not have enemies in the way that you think of them, as in real people. But what about fear, or doubt? What about sadness, discouragement, insecurity, and worry – or anything that keeps you awake at night?”
Ah. She had a point.
But she wasn’t finished.
“You know we all have an enemy,” Lynne continued. (And I did; the Bible says that “our enemy the devil” prowls around like a lion, looking for someone to devour.) “Don’t you think Satan wants to assail you? And don’t you think he can use things like fear and uncertainty to get the job done?”
Ahhh, yes. Yes he can. And when I began to picture discouragement or fear as my foes, it suddenly became very easy for me to pray that God would step in and render them toothless!
Yes. That is our dog Khaki. I know it’s not a flattering shot, but…those teeth. I had to show you.
(And alert blog readers will note the fluff of white, just below Khaki’s chin, which explains a lot. When she doesn’t have to wear a Christmas Sweater, she’s actually a decent-looking dog.)
I don’t know who – or what – you are facing today. But if you feel like you’re under an attack of any kind – whether a real person is conspiring against you, or if it’s things like fear and worry that are taking a bite out of your joy – take Psalm 3 and wrap it around yourself. Call on God, and let him be your shield.
From the Lord comes deliverance. May his blessing be on you today.