“O my strength, I will watch for you;
for you, O God, are my fortress.”
~Psalm 59:9 (NRSV).
Fear does funny things to our sense of safety. Whether the issues we are in fear of are real or just perceived could very well be beside the point. We’re reconciled to looking over our shoulders.
This is King David’s context; his house is under watch by Saul’s marauders, and this enemy prowl like dogs ready to devour him as a meal. Above all this they blaspheme God in their contempt of life.
Additionally, David is involved in a plea to God; he begs the Lord to institute prompt and finalising justice, but interestingly he doesn’t want them killed — just taught a lesson (verse 11) so Israel would again know the faithfulness of the redeeming Lord: their Shield.
Times of Ambush and Pursuit
Though we don’t live in times of war — apart from the splintering of conflicts abroad — we are subject to much conflict. Perhaps gossip and innuendo are two relevant examples.
We’re no strangers to ambush and the pursuit of others — again, some of these issues can even be fabricated in our own minds as we spring to our own defence. We mimic the Davidic mindset by fashion of paranoia. It’s a very human problem.
Regardless of the issues we can sometimes feel very alone in our conflicts; wondering why God won’t fight for us. Surely this holy Lord can see the graphic injustices? This is what David sees and feels — faith that God will save him; but just when?
Harmed rapport is not easily reconciled. Limited eye contact with those we think are opposed to us is a giveaway to this. Of course, we feel the same way. We tend to affirm and reaffirm evidences of strained relations; most of us can’t hide our innate feelings; our body language betrays us for honesty.
God’s Love and Comfort During Trials
Somehow David felt the calming love of God’s comforting hand guiding him in this toughest of times. He drew close to God, and drew upon his faith, instead of succumbing to fear; that would have been an understandable reaction.
Like coming to a fork in a road, we have the choice; we’ll often go a cowardly way — succumbing to the fear and conflict, in submission or aggression — when with foresight and awareness the courageous way is not that much harder. Assertiveness to petition God was David’s response.
The courageously assertive way is not only empowering, it’s also facilitating a direct pathway to God’s love and comfort during trial. Courage begets comfort.
In Psalm 59 there is no sign of justice coming to this situation. We are left with David’s hope; yet, it is unanswered.
The initial outlook is not good. But realistically this psalm portrays life as we also know it; many of our prayers seem to go unanswered. That there is no obvious victory noted in this psalm of David’s validates our reality — the Lord doesn’t pander to royalty or to us, necessarily. Unanswered prayers have a purpose in having us grow past our desires and into destinies of further maturity.
This psalm shows us that there is hope beyond the worst of circumstances — that if David can hope, so can we. Vindication is still coming!
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.