But You, O Lord, are a shield about me. December 9, 2010Posted by orualundone in Attitude, Pain, Salvation, Trust, Worry, Worship.
Tags: Absalom, David, Psalm 3, Trouble
I can’t believe we’re already into December and nearly done with 2010. I am not sure where the time went, but I am pretty sure it mostly did not go where I wanted it to. This year flew by more quickly than any other I can remember, and despite some exciting things happening I feel like I’m nearly the exact same place at the end of the year as I was at the beginning of it. But I also feel like big changes are just around the corner, which is both thrilling and frightening.
The high school girls that I do Bible Study with recently chose a book on praying the Psalms as our newest study guide. I wasn’t sure about it at first – it’s one of those thin little Bible study guides, almost a pamphlet, with few frills. Just two pages of stark, uninspiring questions and little guidance or personal insight. But it’s proven to be quite an interesting and thought provoking journey through psalms I had largely ignored. This week was Psalm 3 “Praying your trouble”.
O LORD, how my adversaries have increased!
Many are rising up against me.
Many are saying of my soul,
“There is no deliverance for him in God.”
But You, O LORD, are a shield about me,
My glory, and the One who lifts my head.
I was crying to the LORD with my voice,
And He answered me from His holy mountain.
I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the LORD sustains me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me round about.
Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God!
For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek;
You have shattered the teeth of the wicked.
Salvation belongs to the LORD;
Your blessing be upon Your people!
There’s a lot to unpack in this little song, but I just want to write about the one thing that struck me for what I needed to hear this week.
David is being pursued by the army of Absalom, his own son, who is trying to overthrow him and looks like he actually has a decent shot at doing so. As David does so many other times in his life, he cries out to God – first in despair and then later in praise. This psalm follows a familiar progression for David in many of the songs he wrote in times of strife.
He starts off by voicing his complaint, fear, or problem. He does this loudly, without restraint (in other psalms he even accuses God of deserting him or being the cause of his distress). Then he remembers aloud the things God has done for him in the past, surrenders himself to the Lord, and then praises God for what he is going do in total assurance that God will save him. This is an excellent way to pray when we are under attack, but it is the middle part of the process (verse 5 in this psalm) that really struck me.
Not only does he express his trust and surrender to God, but at the very time where he should be fleeing or fighting or doing something to stop Absalom’s onslaught, David lies down and goes to sleep! He reminds himself that God has done great things for him before and then goes to bed – helpless, defenseless, protected only by God’s will.
I am pretty good at voicing my problems to God. And I am good at asking for his help. I’m not always great at remembering his past faithfulness without some prompting, or remembering to praise him for what he has yet to do, but I usually manage to get there. The one thing I am terrible at, though, is surrendering in such a vulnerable and complete way in the midst of crisis.
I will cry out to him, but it is nearly always as I am making my own plans to extricate myself from the situation. I might ask him to show me what to do, or to help me do what I need to – but I’m always doing. Or at least planning to do. I might leave him room to change what I do, but I need to have something in mind. It literally never occurs to me in those moments of trouble to actually stop. Stop for a significant period of time (longer than it takes to count to ten!) and allow him to take over.
This is not to say that action is always wrong and inaction is always right. Taking a nap when things get rough can just as easily be an avoidance mechanism as a sign of faith. And sometimes real, decisive action is called for. But it is also important to recognize the times when all the striving and plotting in the world will not be able to save you or change your situation one bit, and no amount of worrying or raging will do anything to help you. When outside forces you cannot control converge upon you, that is the very time you need to remember God’s miracles in the past, lay down your arms, and let him be the one to save you.