Whenever David prayed for help in overcoming his enemies he was concerned with people trying to kill him or armies fighting for his kingdom. With God's assistance, David never backed down from a fight. This is the guy God called "a man after my own heart."
We can still call on God for help in overcoming our enemies, whoever and whatever they may be. Enemies and temptations come in various forms. I noticed this year that several friends gave up Facebook for Lent. Others have told me, both men and women, that they have become addicted to pornography on the internet. Temptations abound.
But where temptations abound, grace can abound all the more. David never had to fight the internet, but he gave us an example in going out to face the enemy, calling on God at all times, and listening when God spoke. Following this model, we too can be people after God's own heart. We can be victorious; we can conquer our enemies and hold our ground.
Psalm 60:11-12 Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man in worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.
Yesterday we looked at Psalm 49. The Psalm is primarily about not trusting in riches. No matter how famous or wealthy you are while alive, you can't take it with you (see verse 17).
Let's consider again verses 7-9, the same verses we looked at yesterday. "No man can redeem the life of another or give to God ransom for him -- the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough -- that he should live on forever and not see decay." It's true that no man can redeem the life of another. But Jesus was able to redeem us because he was no mere man. The price for our redemption was steep. It was much more than the 30 pieces of silver which was the price for Jesus' life. We should treat our own life and the lives of all others as the precious, expensive gift that they are.
Recently I was reading a novel called The Known World by Edward P. Jones. The main character is Henry Townsend who was born into slavery and bought out of slavery by his father. However, when Henry grows up, he himself owns over 30 slaves. It is a very disturbing book.
What reminded me of it was Psalm 49:7-9 - "No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him -- the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough -- that he should live on forever and not see decay." How much is a life worth in monetary terms? Yes, prices were determined for slaves dependent upon sex, age and health because they were seen as a commodity based upon their projected value in labor. Life insurance policies put a value on a person's life too. But how much is the life of a child (who has no labor value) worth to a parent? For all the parents who have lost a child to school violence in our country, what would they give to have their children back?
I have asked you before, now I invite you again, to pray for those people in our society who may be prone to violence either to themselves or to others. (I heard this week that a suicide occurs about every 15 minutes in the U.S.) You will find a suggested prayer on this website under Prayer Resources.
"The ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough."
With any psalm there are short portions on which one can meditate to great effect. The opening of today's psalm has been meaningful in my life. Many times I have ruminated on "Where would I be now if I had not given my life to Jesus?" The answer is never a good one. I agree with King David that God "lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth."
I hope this song helps you to reflect today and to appreciate what God has done for you.
Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.
Not everything in the Psalms is beautiful and loving. In fact, some of the images are horrific, such as in Psalm 137:9. The idea of revenge or vengeance turns up many times in the Psalms because the writer does not hold back his/her emotions from God, as nasty as they may be. Since God knows our thoughts and our hearts,we may as well be honest with him in prayer. Whoever wrote Psalm 137 was certainly straightforward.
The author, though, does not plan to seek revenge himself. Perhaps he is in no position to seek revenge, so he asks God to do it for him - to do to the oppressors what the oppressors had done to him. It's time to exact an eye for an eye.
We live under a new law though. We live under "Pray for your enemies. Do good to those who persecute you. Do unto others as you want them to do unto you."
Maybe you find it easy, but I don't find it easy to do good to those who hurt me. Sometimes I am much more in line with the Psalmist than I am with Jesus. I need to let the desire for revenge go.
Put a right spirit within me, Lord.
Any time we talk about God's plans for us we get into the discussion about predestination and free will. If God has plans for us, where is our free will? If we don't want to go along with God's plans, what happens to them?
Well, I believe God has plans and we have freedom of choice about whether or not we participate in them. We are always free to say no and God can look for someone more amenable.
Psalm 138:8 says, The Lord will fulfill his plan/purpose for me. That's a twist we may not often think about - God working out his plans on our behalf. It's not all our responsiblity. God is helping to see that everything goes right. Sometimes you hear it said as, "If God called you to it, He'll see you through it." It's a reassurance that helps to keep us going. If you are walking in God's plan, he'll help; he'll walk with you. Verse 3 of Psalm 138 provides another assurance, When I called you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted.
To all the bold and stouthearted people of God, carry on. God is with you to work out his plan on your behalf.
Let's take a different approach today and instead of looking at one particuar Psalm, let's look at how God is portrayed in the Psalms in general.
all-knowing and ever-present, beautiful and desirable, creator, good, generous, powerful, loving, faithful, righteous, just, holy, a strong tower and a place of refuge.
If we change this to God, you are . . . we have a prayer of praise.
God, you are all-knowing and ever-present, beautiful and desirable. You are creator of all that is good; you are generous, powerful, loving and faithful. You are righteous, just and holy. You are my strong tower and my place of refuge.
Thank you for always being there for me.
We can hardly read David's psalms and not follow the events of David's life. Today's psalm may have been written when David was dealing with his son Absalom's rebellion. Absalom had ruined his father's good name as he was trying to win the hearts of the people and take over the kingdom (2 Samuel 15-18).
So we find David, once again in the desert, preparing to go to battle against his own son. His heart must have been broken even in his anger. He asked his men not to kill Absalom if they found him, but Absalom was killed anyway. David wept for the son who had plotted against him.
We come upon David giving himself a pep talk. Let's listen in.
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Thanks to NASA and the Hubble telescope we now have pictures that more adequately represent the universe than we ever had before. Who would have thought that there were so many galaxies, or that black holes existed, or that there were such complex designs?
They show us how amazing God's creation is - the extravagance of his creative power. And what are we compared with that? We are specks on one little planet in one galaxy. Yet he thinks of us. We are of great value to him, and he has given us responsibility over his creation.
In response, let us pray with the Psalmist, O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.