David, known as a man after God’s own heart, had many enemies. Read through the historical books of the Old Testament, and you will see how often David was on the run or hiding from someone–Saul, Ahab, Abner, Absalom (his own son). The list could go on. In the Book of Psalms, David often refers to his enemies. Look at the following verses, all taken from psalms penned by David:
O Lord, see how my enemies persecute me! Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death. (Ps. 9:13)
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will me enemy triumph over me? (Ps. 13:2)
All my enemies whisper together against me; they imagine the worst for me. (Ps. 41:7)
I say to God, my Roc, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” (Ps. 42:9)
My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked. (Ps. 55:2-3)
These are just a few references David makes to his enemies. He had many of them throughout his reign as king, possibly because he chose to follow the laws of God instead of giving into the wants of man. Regardless of why these men hated David, the fact remains that they did. They hated him enough to put him to death if given the opportunity. David’s enemies were real people; people who were part of his life for whatever reason. Some of them he loved, some he respected, and some he hated.
As I was reading Psalms and thinking about David’s enemies and his various pleas to God about their involvement in David’s life, I thought about the enemies in my own life. There is a handful of people who I would consider to be my enemy, but those names and faces were not what came to mind as I pondered the word. Instead, what came to mind were various emotions that I would categorize as my enemies. These emotions hold much power over me. They too often dictate the mood I am in, the decisions I make, and the way I treat those around me. They have names but not faces. They have more power over me than I have over them. They tire me to the point of exhaustion on most days. My enemies, to name a few, are depression, fear, worry, illness, anxiety, anger…the list could go on. At times, their power is so great that I am rendered useless to those around me. Their control is so strong that, once I am caught in the grip of one or more of these enemies, I find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get free. The struggle to do so usually results in a stronger hold by my enemies and I find myself caught in a vicious cycle of downward spiral.
For years, I have battled these faceless and invisible enemies. Sometimes that battle was fought exclusively internally. I could fake a smile and happy countenance really well. At other times, the battle was so intense that it was obvious to those around me that something was amiss. On more than one occasion, I was “forced” to seek help from “professional resources”. Let me say that I am not discounting the value of a team of professionals–doctors, counselors, medication, etc. In my experience, though, all of those things were a temporary fix. They would get me over the worst of it and send me on my way feeling a little better. The enemies would inevitably return, though, and I would find myself in battle all over again…just like the water cycle that plays out on earth, there was no definitive end.
The weariness of battling these enemies is what drove me to the Book of Psalms about a year ago. I spent any time I had pouring over the laments of David as he cried to God for deliverance from his enemies. I would name my enemies as well and cry to God to set me free from them. I believed, and still believe, that God has the power to conquer these enemies. There was no doubt that God is bigger than depression or fear or whatever enemy I could name.
As I read and re-read the Psalms this past week, I noticed something. David didn’t cry to God once and he was free. In fact, in dealing with Saul alone, David cried out to God many times for deliverance. Saul could have been considered David’s thorn. No matter what David did, Saul refused to leave David alone. David wasn’t afraid to be honest with God either. Several times David asks God to slaughter his enemies. Wow. That seems pretty harsh, yet when you think about it, the enemies of David were also the enemies of God. David knew enough about God to know that He is a just God who cannot stand sin. David felt okay in asking God to erase his (and thereby God’s own) enemies from the face of the earth.
Looking at my list of enemies, I can say that they are all also enemies of God.
Depression? David said, “Why so downcast O my soul? Put your hope in God.”
Anxiety? Paul said, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Weariness? Jesus said, “Come unto me all you who are weary and I will give you rest.”
Fear? Moses told the Israelites, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
This morning, as I began to fear a situation we were facing, I picked up my Bible and turned to what has become my favorite book–Psalms of course. As I read, I came to David’s words in Psalm 44: “I do not trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory, but YOU give us victory over our enemies, YOU put your adversaries to shame.” (Ps. 44:6-7) My word for 2014 was “trust”. God is giving me many opportunities to practice living out that word. He can and will, someday forever, wipe out my enemies.
I am very much looking forward to that day!