Thursday, March 19, 2009

How the Bible can help when someone is after you…

Imagine living in modern war-torn Gaza and fearing each day for your future. Some (or most and possibly all) of us know at least something of that sort of experience; to be in fear for what might happen or what will inevitably happen. This is how the troubled 13 year old boy feels when he’s threatened into a fight after school, and with everyone knowing about it, he simply cannot escape. What dread fills that boy’s heart?

This is how David must have felt when he had Saul constantly trying to trap him (see 1 Samuel 18:6 – 24:22). Saul was the sort of person bent on having his own warped sense of justice. Psalm 54 records David’s lament:

“For strangers have risen up against me, and oppressors have sought after my life; they have not set God before them. Selah.[1]

“Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is with those who uphold my life”
–Psalm 54:3-4 (NKJV).

Psalm 52 again sets forth David in full view of his cantankerous enemies. This lament of the individual, however, highlights the oppressor’s folly in the light of God’s unfailing love (v. 8b).

I believe the theological definition of an enemy to be anyone who belligerently evokes feelings of fear in us i.e. situationally causing us to run emotionally. This can be people we don’t get along with, competitors and even friends and spouses we have a temporary falling out with, whom might struggle for a time in forgiving us.

Sometimes, those who used to love us (and may go on to love us again some time in the future) just cannot be anything but unfriendly and spiteful--by definition, these are situational foes.

The sad fact is, whether we succeed or fail in life, or any result between, we will have enemies, for a time and even for the course of our lives. Some people can’t help but despise others and this is seemingly a core reason for their existence.

Notwithstanding paranoia, the Bible gives us many illustrations of people who were hemmed in by enemies close to them, and how God proved faithful, protecting them. Our approach, biblically, requires a blend of courage to stand assertively, whilst enough submission to relent before vengeance kicks in within us.

Like David, we should be able to stand faithfully and let God engineer the justice, in his timeframe and in his way, so we too might be able to say, “For he has delivered me from all my troubles, and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes”
–Psalm 54:7 (NIV).

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

[1] ‘Selah’ probably means to pause and reflect on what has just been said.

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