Tag Archives: enemies

How To Read The Psalms (Psalm 17, 35, 54, 63)

I used to read the psalms where David talked about his enemies, how often he asked God to destroy them, and honestly I couldn’t relate. Now I understand that Saul was out to kill him and the king made David’s life miserable. But David said some pretty harsh things about Saul and his followers. I mean, I’ve had conflict with certain individuals over the years. But I wouldn’t describe them as enemies. And I certainly wouldn’t pray for God to destroy them liked David prayed about the people he  considered his enemies.

So for years, I’d read these psalms, check them off my reading list, and move on. I didn’t think there was anything in there that had anything to do with me. I shared my thoughts with a pastor who looked at me and said, “But you do have an enemy.”

What? I wondered if he knew something I didn’t. Was there someone in our congregation who had a vendetta against me that I didn’t know?

He must have seen the shocked and confused look on my face because he went on, “Your enemy isn’t flesh and blood. You have a much more dangerous enemy than any person on this earth. Your enemy is Satan. And believe me, he wants to see you suffer. He’s out to destroy you every bit as much as Saul wanted to destroy David. More.”

He told me I was wrong to believe the psalms didn’t relate to me. He challenged me to re-read every one and instead of picturing the conflict between Saul and David, or between me and someone I wasn’t getting along with at the time, and picture the conflict between Satan and me, the conflict between sin and holiness. He told me I would grow to love the psalms and realize that God not only understands my struggle with sin, He is the answer to my struggles.

I’ve been reading the psalms that way now for decades. When David talks about swords and arrows, I picture the temptations Satan throws at me. When I hear David say his enemy is out to get him, I know the devil is out to get me, too.

And when David in Psalm 63 says, “They who seek my life will be destroyed; they will go down to the depths of the earth. They will be given over to the sword and become food for jackals,” I know Satan doesn’t stand a chance against me.

Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I stay close to you; your right hand upholds me. (63:7-8)

I have a different attitude toward the psalms these days because I’ve learned to read them. And I can absolutely say every psalm applies to me in some way. I dare say they apply to you, too, if you learn to read them.

April 20; Get ‘Em, God

Psalms 7, 35, 57, 142

It’s tempting to read David’s psalms and have a sense of satisfaction, thinking the people in our lives who have treated us badly will get what’s coming to them. It’s tempting to think God is telling us, “What goes around, comes around.” But does that sound like the God you know and love?

If that were the case, Jesus wouldn’t have gone to the cross. The cross is totally about NOT getting what’s coming to any of us. Jesus died for sinners, not just people who were nice to Him.

Jesus taught us to love our enemies, do good to people who aren’t good to us, pray for people who mistreat us. He never told us it was ok to secretly hope a house will fall on top of them, or even hope that someone will do to them what they did to us.

So how are we supposed to read these psalms where David is asking God to destroy his enemies? We read them and ask God to destroy ours.

Get ’em, God!

But remember, David’s enemies were flesh and blood. Ours are not. Our enemy is Satan. Our enemy is sin, temptation, false teaching… We read these psalms, and instead of looking outward, pointing fingers at people who are mean to us, we take a good look within ourselves and identify the enemy that is attacking our own soul.

THAT’S the enemy we want God to defeat, to destroy, to disgrace and put to shame. That’s the enemy we want to fall into the pit it has dug for us.

Get ’em, God!

Please don’t read these psalms with the name of someone who has hurt you in your mind. Read these psalms with one eye on yourself, and the other on God who wants you to have victory over sin, who delights in helping you win those battles with Satan.

And as for that person who has hurt you? I would encourage you to begin to pray that God will give them what they don’t deserve… Himself. After all, He did that for you.

August 5

Jeremiah 22:24-23:8, 49:1-33; 2 Kings 24:10-17;  2 Chronicles 36:10; Obadiah 1:1-21

I’m pretty sure that when the nation of Israel was following God and were enjoying his blessings, other nations were jealous of them. I mean, who enjoys watching an enemy prosper?

The descendants of Esau were no doubt doubly jealous and resentful because after all, didn’t they have Abraham’s blood in them, too?

So when the nation of Israel was overpowered and taken captive, not only did the Edomites not lift a finger to help them, they stood by with a measure of satisfaction. They hadn’t raised a hand against God’s people themselves. But they enjoyed watching someone else do the dirty deed.

What does God say to Edom through Obadiah? 1:11 says, “On the day you stood by… you were like one of them”. As guilty as those whose hands were dirty. Obadiah goes on to say that they shouldn’t look down on their brother or rejoice when bad things happen to them.

Have you ever had a secret chuckle at the misfortune of someone who has wronged you? Be careful. God says if we do, we are as guilty as one who commits a crime.

Jesus taught us to pray for our enemies. Love them. Do good to them. If you harbor resentment and secretly hope someone gets what you think they deserve, confess that attitude as sin.

Look at verse 15. God warns us that what we do just might come around and hit us instead. What you wish on your enemy just might become your own lot in life.

Is someone treating you unfairly? Pray God blesses them. You wouldn’t mind if that came around to you, would you?