I love to read the Psalms when I am angry (or feeling like a victim). David, who wrote the majority of them, goes in to great detail about wanting his enemies to be “smote” or tortured in some terrible way. He vents his fears and human desire for justice to come to his enemies. He seems to be pursued quite a bit. Some of his enemies are not people who are after him for personal reasons. But there is one who is. His name is Saul, and he used to be David’s dearest friend. In Psalm 55:12-14 David says, “if an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But, it is you, my companion, my close friend, with who I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.” The worst kind of enemy is the kind that used to be our friend. When I look up the definition of enemy, it says, “(a person, or thing) who has hatred for, fosters harmful designs agains, or engages in antagonistic activities toward another.” I haven’t had many enemies in my life, but the most painful ones are those that were once “with me” and are now “against me”. I could talk a long time about that, but I actually want to share something different that came to me as I was reading the Psalms this morning. It isn’t often that God shows me a way to see scripture that has never occurred to me before. Most likely, because I get tunnel vision and tend to think I know the best and the only way to do things (anyone relate?). But today, I must have been more open to new ideas and this is the thought that I had: “my enemy is not always a person.”
Sometimes my enemy is far more dangerous than just another measly human being. Sometimes it is like what J.R.R. Tolkien describes as “a large ferocious wolf”. A bitter enemy. A danger to be feared. A Deadly foe. What is your bitter enemy? What enemy pursues you. Wants to devour you-though it used to comfort you and make you feel safe and warm? Is it the disease of alcoholism? Addiction? Food? Relationship? Exercise? Serving at church? Approval? Sex? Money? All of these are things that have potential to give us immediate gratification. A sense of well-being and confidence and even a feeling of temporary peace. But no longer. What, in your life, used to be your friend but now “returns at evening, snarling like a dog…prowls and wanders about for food and howls if it is not satisfied” (Ps.59:14,15)? At what point did it turn on you? Two glasses of wine used to be enough. It was your companion. But, today it haunts you. Taunts you. Lurks about trying to kill you. Those pills used to calm your nerves. Those chips, pizza, cookies used to give you a solution that worked. For a little while. That person used to give you the affection and love you needed to feel secure, but now they just can’t seem to do enough to satiate you. You are in a constant state of neediness. God has given us many good gifts. Used in the right context, these are some of them. But when our brokenness collides with them, and we look to the gifts, rather than the Giver, they turn on us. Because they simply aren’t big enough to fill the void in us that only God is big enough to fully occupy. I love how Bill Wilson, founder of AA puts it; “out of the alloy of drink and speculation (business/money/success) I commenced to form the weapons that would one day turn in its flight like a boomerang and all but cut me to ribbons.” Sometimes these “things” are our friends; until they are not. What “friend” of yours has come back to cut you to ribbons? Identify it and then pick up the book of Psalms and fight it. Read through them and every time you read about the “enemy”, insert your personal enemy. Pray like David did:
Psalm 55: “listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked; for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger…But I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning, and noon I cry out in distress and he hears my voice. He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me”
Psalm 56; “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? All day long they wish my words; they are always plotting to harm me. They conspire, they lurk, they watch my steps, eager to take my life.”
Psalm 59: My enemies return at evening (aren’t those the bewitching hours?), snarling like dogs, and prowl about you the city (my mind, which is a dangerous neighborhood where no one should go alone). They spew out swords from their lips…but You, O Lord, laugh at them. O my Strength, I watch for you; you are my fortress, my loving God. God will go before me and will let me gloat over those who slander me.”
What is your enemy? What coping mechanism used to be your friend but is now attempting to “cut you to ribbons.” The battle is too big, too powerful, to dark, for you to do it alone. But the good news is that you have a God who can and will deliver you if you seek Him.