The hot breath of enemies could often be smelled by David. He was a hated and hunted man. He wrote, O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me... (Psalm 3:1). David's enemies spoke against him and sometimes they sought to kill him. As far as I know, though people have spoken against me, I don't think that anyone has ever tried to kill me. What would it be like to know that around the next corner an enemy was ready to take your life? David understood that kind of danger.
Even if no one pursues us to murder us, hateful words have a murderous effect. Hatred in the heart is a form of murder and often spills out with slander on the lips. Words hurt. Sometimes hateful words and ungodly attitudes come from the lips of those that we considered to be trusted friends. David was surrounded by blood-thirsty men. They were men of hatred and slander and some wanted his blood.
Yet it is not just active hatred that tears at a man's heart. Sometimes it is being counted as irrelevant or being treated as unneeded. In our culture many thousands of people (born and in the womb) have been discarded (mentally or actually) because they are are counted as a major inconvenience. That is the philosophy of Gloria Steinem who with hands raised high, proudly displays her, I had an abortion tee-shirt. After all, or so the philosophy goes, why inconvenience yourself for the next 18 years? It is always the most vulnerable (babies, the sick and the elderly) that are first casualties of a culture that bows before the idol of convenience. Yet it is not just the vulnerable that are hated. David was strong and powerful. He was hated by those who wanted his strength and power and by those who hated his God. There are plenty of reasons to be hated, right?
David knew hatred of various sorts. He faced it as a boy standing against the taunting Goliath, and he knew it as an old man when his son sought to overthrow him. He was hated, discounted, slandered and pursued.
Yet, David uses a little word, just three letters, that is filled with hope. It is the word, but. He wrote, But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill (Psalm 3:2).
How do you respond when you are hated, treated as irrelevant, dismissed or neglected?
David cried out to God and anchored his heart on truth. He declared God to be his shield, glory, exalter and sovereign over his life, rest, sustenance and death. He leaned hard on God his Savior (3-8).
How must we respond?
1. Bring your heart to God (1). God knows you but invites you to come to him and spill your heart.
2. Declare to God your convictions about him (3). David declared that God was his shield, glory, encourager, prayer answerer, sustainer, protector and deliverer.
3. Cry to God in your need (4). God sent his Son. Jesus is sympathetic to your plight. Cry to him!
4. Trust in the Lord (5). David said, I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me. To know God is to be able, even with enemies all around, to rest. If you are a Christian then to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).
5. Be strong and courageous (6-7). David had many thousands of people who hated him and wanted him dead. Your situation is probably not as dreadful. Yet he said, I will not be afraid...(6).
6. Cry to the Lord again (7). David knew God as savior and he cried to God to save him.
7. Praise the Lord (8). In every prayer and every breath and every situation give praise to God.
Perhaps the prayer below is reflective of your heart.
A Lord's Day Prayer
Almighty God, my shield, my glory and the lifter of my head, I come to you. It is not that there are many thousands of people who have set their hearts against me, that I come to you. I come to you with a sense of my great neediness. I am weak amidst the troubles that I face. My strength gives way in battle. Loneliness, grief and the multiplied challenges of life overwhelm me. I have not the ability, within myself to fight on. If I am to survive and thrive with thousands of challenges in my way then it will only be because you have chosen to lift me up.
Forgive my sense of despair. Thank you for being a God to whom I can bring my heart. I declare that you are my shield, glory and the lifter of my head. You are the one who hears and answers my prayers. You are the one who gives rest to my soul, my mind, my body. You are the one who wakes me in the morning and sustains me through the day. You are the one who gives me courage to face the many thousands of challenges in the pathway of this temporal journey. You are my hope and my salvation.
On this Lord's Day use the prayers and songs of your people as worship acceptable in your sight and as a balm to my heart. Use the preaching of the Word to honor your name and to build up your people. Rise up in your church and be exalted among your people for your glory and our good. Help our church to trust in your protection, declare your greatness and to be courageous. You are my God and you are our God! Amen.