…a lesson from David on safety & confidence for life…
Have we not seen and marveled at those who face great threats with great courage? Maybe we imagine that King David of ancient Israel was one of those. To imagine David facing threats with faith would be accurate for David relied upon and had faith in God for his strength. We probably make these mental assumptions by seeing the big picture and outcome of his life, that hindsight is 20/20 bit. His faith though was not because he was immune to fear or had such personal powers that he knew nothing could stand against him. He was not immune from the perception of personal and national threat and the fearfulness accompanying it.
By studying the Psalms which David composed we can see his striving. We can find in those a pathway for understanding God and how those who have completed their life made their way through it. These are important connections for life and living. Even those who think little of God will reflexively call out to him when the threats penetrate the shells and shields they have built around them. By studying what someone who thought much of and regularly called out to God we can find ways strength and steps to succeed physically and spiritually.
In Psalm 35 David is not on the offensive. He is not in superpower mode with his army gathered around him. He is on the run. The dogs are barking in the forest out there someplace and he like a fox is trying to get away. He is threatened and trying to stay alive as pursuers seek his demise.
1 Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me! 2 Take hold of shield and buckler and rise for my help! 3 Draw the spear and javelin against my pursuers! Say to my soul, “I am your salvation!” (Psalm 35:1-3–ESV)
Safety on the outside
A life directed by God does not eliminate adversity and harm as we said last week. When this chapter starts David while living his God directed life is on the run and under existential threat. There are those seeking him who are specifically trying to kill him. Note first how David does not really ask for God’s help. He seems to speak a set of commands: contend, fight, arm yourself, rise, take up weapons. These steps were to be taken against those who were chasing him. David is not displaying a false humility of “if it is your will come to my aid and wipe out those who pursue me.”
Next note that David is not doubting whether God has chosen him because of these external threats. David is not worried that he has jinxed himself or fallen under a curse because of sin someplace. He knew that his life was God’s and was being directed by God. He was under duress and from that vantage point tells God to come to his aid. He needs God to put on the implements of a soldier and take up arms against those who were in pursuit. Those who were threatening David were by extension poised against God’s initiatives.
Conclusions / Points
- Great confidence comes from living in God’s will
- God should be called upon in times of trouble
- Live in God’s will. (not yours…)
- Have you be disobedient to God and right now are where he did not intend for you to be? If you can go back to the point of obedience without breaking the commands of God then do so, but do not sin in the going back. What do I mean by this? Well, suppose you married someone in disobedience. God hates divorce and has prohibitions against it. Vows made are sacred. Don’t sin by justifying a divorce. Suppose you are pregnant and godliness would have dictated against the fornication or adultery by which you became that way. Don’t eliminate the child through abortion. Remember that God can overrule evil for good.
- Are you watching the wrong movie, a movie that you know is outside the bounds of God’s design? Leave. I have a non-Christian friend who repeatedly has urged me to watch the movie Ex Machina. While some of the futuristic themes may be interesting and not ungodly the movie reviews make it clear that there are visual & sexual components to that futuristic world. The watching of those which would be ungodly and unhealthy spiritually. So while I would like to see that movie it is not on my watch-list.
- David’s demands upon God are only legitimate in the context of a submitted and obedient child. If you are intent upon your own way in this life you do not have any grounds to make demands like this upon God.
- After the “yes sir” to God call God into the fray.
- Are the circumstances in your life poor right now? Are you at risk financially or physically through righteous living and/or obedience. Call upon God to address those things which have risen up against you. God is ready to hear and calling out to him honors him. He is ready to help. See Psalm 50 for more on that theme.
Before considering the second half of verse 3 where an amazing thing is said I want to divert into the world of psychology to consider the psyche, the mind, the place where we really live, to “the me.” Jonathan Haidt (pronounced “height”) in his book The Righteous Mind (This is not a Christian book by the way) 1 asked the reader to do a little exercise. The exercise was to make an analysis of all the judgments or condemnations one makes in the span of just 5 minutes while driving around. What is happening with that? Is one seeing something and then pondering it and then making a decision to judge the thing positively or negatively? Nope. Not really. They just happen: Bam! They are what I would have called thoughts, but they happen so instantly that the word thought should not be construed as rationality or reasoning. They are reflexive. Jonathan Haidt reasonably terms them intuitions. That is the psyche. That is where we live. There is where uncertainty and fear and concern function. Reason may be brought to address or modify or temper that “me” that happens, but it is as if reason is sitting like a rider on top of that elephant inside (another of his analogies).
Confidence on the inside
Now, rewind back to Psalm 35 where we have been. The threat that David knew was coming against his person had already arrived in his psyche. He had already had the intuition. That intuition had even gone beyond that and up to the emotion of fear. David’s soul was disconcerted by these things, and he makes what would seem to be an odd prayer in the latter part of verse 3. David humbly tells God to speak to his inner being. David does not say, “make me at peace,” or “take the fear away.” David does not say, “I don’t want to be scared about this anymore please take that intuition away. Please remove that emotion from me.” David in his prayer says, “Tell my psyche” or “tell my inner being” or “tell my consciousness that you are going to be my salvation.” See how he joins God, he calls God to the side of his own distress? David does not seek God as a tool, something to get out when fear hits. He wants God near. He does not doubt that God will deliver. He seems more desirous to ensure God’s presence is there. He trusts that. He asks that God would say to his “me,” “I am here.”
What I want us to do is to realize that in Psalm 35 David is not asking God to change David’s intuitions or the thoughts that just happen. David was not even asking God to calm him or to give him confidence. David asks God to speak to him, but to tell him something. “Tell me that you are my salvation,” he says. “Tell my uncertainty that you will be my salvation.” David wants God to be the salve for the raw and bleeding thoughts, emotions, intuitions. God is no tool for the elimination of all the immediate scares of life. Prayer is a tool that connects God himself to the scares of life as a solution.
In Genesis God said that it was not good for man to be alone and so he created woman. There is only so much that a couple can share. Each person has their own inner world to deal with and it is not good for man or woman to be alone there either. God holds out the offer of relationship with himself in this other aloneness. He will be there for each and every human twitch and cognitive struggle. This is the proper nexus for where God and mankind meet. Why would we ever want to dis-invite God from the very place where he works?
Soul and circumstances need God’s presence
Conclusions / Points
- God is the solution for the things which unsettle the mind.
- When obedience unsettles our innards we must ask God to tell us that he will provide
- Don’t ask God for calmed innards or soothed emotions, but rather reminders that he is our solution. David needed saved from enemies and so David asked God to tell the reactionary part of his life that he will be the his salvation.