Consumed by Fear, Surrounded by Grace

Read Psalm 3

Who are our enemies?

Contrary to what we might think of ourselves, the Bible assumes we have enemies. Not just in the Psalms, either, but in the Gospel stories as well. Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” He does not say, “Be nice so people will like you,” but, “Love your enemies.” The Bible assumes that if you walk by faith in Jesus Christ you will make enemies.

This is a difficult truth to swallow. Imagine how difficult it must have been for King David. His enemies were not a faceless crowd of strangers, not people or forces far away. It wasd someone very close to home. His own son, Absalom, was his greatest enemy. It was Absalom who drew up an army attempting to dethrone his father David. Absalom, his own son, who sought to destroy him, to strip away his power. 

It is in this context that we hear the words of Psalm 3. Absalom has David surrounded with a host of soldiers. David is running for his life, hiding out where he can find shelter, calling out to God for protection. Imagine his agony. Not only the fear of losing his life, but the awful pain of betrayal. His own son, Absalom, has turned against him. He wants to destroy his father David.

Even in this desperate situation, David trusts that God provides protection. He calls out to God for deliverance. Even as David is consumed by fear, he knows that he is surrounded by grace.

You, O Lord, are a shield around me.

Knowing that God protects us, we can enter into the rest we so desperately need. Look at verses 5 and 6:

I lie down and sleep;
    I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands
    assail me on every side.

On our own, we would never have peace in the midst of battle. It is impossible to fully rest while fighting in the trenches. But, because God is our shield and defender, we can lie down and sleep, confident that God protects us.

God is not only our shield, our defender. He is also our deliverer, rescuing us from enemy attack. God gives us courage to overcome our fear and strength to do battle with him by our side.

Look at verse 7 in Psalm 3 which reads:

Rise up, O LORD!

Deliver me, O my God!

For you strike all enemies on the cheek;

You break the teeth of the wicked.

We may cringe at this image of God’s wrath. Those of us who are relatively shielded from violent attacks in our personal lives, we can find it difficult to imagine that God would be such so vengeful.

But for early believers and many others who are persecuted today, this image is one of  hope. Many contend with such wickedness they daily look to God for deliverance against their oppressors. Christians thrown in jail for practicing their faith. Women subjected to random rape. Children forced to take arms and fight for military juntas.

God has a plan to rescue us.  God takes the bite out of wickedness.  It is not that God removes us from enemy territory. Instead, God strips the power from all that would hurt or divide us. The deliverance that God blesses us with is the deliverance from those enemies that could eat us up, that could devour our relationships.

God, our protector, has sent us a shield in Jesus Christ, a shield of armor, of protection that doesn’t take our enemies away, but equips us for battle. Jesus Christ is the shield of protection we can turn to when our enemies are closing in, when we feel the gnawing sense that something is trying to eat away at us, to consume us.

God is our shield and our defender. We can rest with confidence in His protection. He will rescue us from attack, shatter the strength of our enemies. Praise be to God.

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