June 2, 2020
What do you do when life falls apart?
Psalms 3 from The Message translation
1-2 Look! Enemies past counting!
Enemies sprouting like mushrooms,
Mobs of them all around me, roaring their mockery:
“Hah! No help for him from God!”
3-4 But you, God, shield me on all sides;
You ground my feet, you lift my head high;
With all my might I shout up to God,
His answers thunder from the holy mountain.
5-6 I stretch myself out. I sleep.
Then I’m up again—rested, tall and steady,
Fearless before the enemy mobs
Coming at me from all sides.
7 Up, God! My God, help me!
Slap their faces,
First this cheek, then the other,
Your fist hard in their teeth!
8 Real help comes from God.
Your blessing clothes your people!
King David wrote Psalms 3 while fleeing Jerusalem. His own son, Absalom planned to take over his kingdom and have his father killed. You can read more of the back story in 2 Samuel 15-18, but Absalom’s clever approach made him able to subvert and divide David’s kingdom without saying any specific thing that could condemn him. Israel dropped their support of their greatest King (David) and instead allowed a wicked, amoral man to rule over them. David went from being very rich and powerful to running for his life.
When you read the words of the scripture and know the backstory of what has happened to David, you can understand the frustration of the words he writes. He really must have felt that enemies were all around, for they were even from within his own family.
We are not immune from enemies either. Sometimes our enemies are other people who have chosen to turn against us or whom we have mistreated. Other times, our enemies are things beyond our control: a lost job, a terrible diagnosis, the end of an important relationship. And often, at the very time that we find ourselves surrounded by “enemies”, we discover more and more “enemies” on our journey. At times, it can appear that everyone and everything is against us. Sometimes, we lose hope and believe that there is no hope for us, that things will never get better.
Hopefully, when we find ourselves “with enemies sprouting like mushrooms”, we will do as David did and will practice Selah (a pause or a rest). David asked for God’s help and then rested as he waited again for the enemy. When we feel surrounded on all sides, we too must call out for God and then take a holy Selah. God created rest as an essential human need and never more so than when we are facing battles of grief, pain, loneliness or sickness.
Let us remember to rest and then to get up, know that we are God’s children, and continue on in our journey to love others as God has loved us first and to help others battle their enemies as well.