Wednesday, 2 October 2013
Psalm 3 Meditation: Answering Your Enemies
I have a new perspective on enemies this week. I don’t just have enemies, I often make them.
This week I alienated a dear sister with my words. I sinned in what I said, causing hurt as well as offense. She severed our relationship. I deserved it. This was an enemy I had caused.
We have something in common, David and me. This week’s study showed me that David had the same testimony. He didn’t just have enemies, he made them. Did you get a chance to read the background on Absalom’s rebellion in 2 Samuel 13-15? Were you surprised to realize that David was largely to blame for the circumstances that led to Absalom’s sin? Oh, yes, Absalom freely chose to avenge his sister, murder his brother, and steal the hearts of the people from David. But David’s passivity, failure to bring justice, lack of forgiveness, and half-hearted repentance fueled Absalom’s treachery.
He made an enemy of his own son.
Answering Your Enemies
David’s enemies knew that he had brought this on himself. Many were saying, “God’s not going to save you. You don’t deserve it.” It could be word had gotten out about David’s sin with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah.
One man even cursed him publicly, “Get out, get you, you man of blood, you worthless man!…the LORD has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.” 2 Samuel 16:7-8. These words pierced him because they were half true.
How do you defend yourself against such half truths? Well, yes, I did mess up, but you don’t know the whole story. I had my reasons. Yes, my motives weren’t perfect, but whose are? Absalom’s motives aren’t so pristine either. Why don’t you stalk him with your curses?
I’m so glad David didn’t try to justify himself by answering his enemies. He answered his enemies by talking to God. Here’s what he said:
1. But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. Psalm 3:3
Do you hear what he is saying? “I’m not going to try to defend myself. I am not my own shield–you are. I am bowed with shame. But you will lift my head. My crown is not my glory–you are.” He is resisting saving himself by resting his defense on God. He is asserting that the LORD is Savior.
2. “Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God!” Psalm 3:7
David follows his assertion with petition. He cries out to God to save him. This act of helplessness glorified God. It is one reason why David is called, “a man after God’s own heart,” not because he was sinless, but because he knew he needed God to save him.
Peace Despite Enemies
David experienced peace, rest, safety, and freedom from fear because he had turned to God for salvation. He hadn’t yet experienced deliverance, but he had already begun to taste the fruit of faith. (Psalm 3:5-6)
The peace God gave was not just personal, but the hope of peace in the community. “Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people!” Psalm 3:8. Sin and rebellion slash community into ribbons. David was going into exile because of his own failures and the aggression of his son. He was being separated from his people. Yet, as he turns to God for salvation, he not only receives assurance of his own safety, but is renewed in his sense of solidarity with the people of God.
This, too, is a fruit of faith is salvation, both personal and interpersonal.
But what if it really wasn’t your fault?
Hearing the voice of Jesus speaking this Psalm turns it upside down and inside out. “How many are my foes…” Yes, Jesus was thronged by enemies who tried to kill him. They accused him of sin, and taunted him with accusations that God had deserted him. But his sin had not turned them into enemies. He was the sinless one. Until he hung on the cross. Then their sin became his sin. And his “sin” became the means for turning them into friends. Selah.
“But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory and the one who lifts my head.” Jesus trusted the Father to save him, and didn’t try to save himself. He trusted his Father, not to save him from death, but through death. John 12:27-32 gives us a new understanding of David’s words in verses 3 and 7.
- “And what shall I say, ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I have come to this hour.” (Don’t save me from death, but through death. Save me, but fulfill your purpose).
- Father, glorify your name. (You are my glory. I trust you with my shame.)
- And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. (When you “lift up my head,” it will be on the cross. My suffering will not be my shame, but my glory, because it will fulfill your purpose of bringing salvation to all the people.)
The reason the Father didn’t save him from death, was so that he could save all of us through his death. Selah.
Back To My Story
I, like David, make enemies. And like David, I am best off not to try to answer my enemies and save myself. No, I am a “woman after God’s own heart” when I throw myself on my Savior at times like these. And so this Psalm informed my prayers and actions last week. God showed me my sin, I repented towards him and confessed to my sister. Then I waited for the outcome. As I waited I asserted verse 3 and kept praying verse 7a.
And God heard my cry, saving me from my enemy by turning her back into a friend. Selah.