I was a little bit surprised at the directions the study of this psalm took. On the “First Impressions” post, I wrote,
“I struggle with the practical application of psalms that talk about being attacked by enemies. I don’t have a lot of enemies in life, so it’s hard for me to picture what it must have been like to be David, who not only had war almost constantly during his reign as Israel’s king, but was also fighting against family members (this Psalm states in the heading, “A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.”).”
Pastor Christian Andrews commented on the post and said, “I’m looking forward to how you deal with the enemies in a contemporary context.” I was, too.
But here’s the deal: for the most part, I didn’t write about enemies. We’ve now completed studies of the first three Psalms at Ophelimos, and two of them (Psalm 2 and 3) have featured enemies in a fairly prominent manner. The content of the psalms, however, does not focus on the enemies.
In Psalm 2, the focus was on the Son of God. In Psalm 3, the focus is on the salvation of the Lord. The enemies are mentioned, but they’re almost an afterthought.
I think this needs to be instructive for us as Christians. We cannot, and should not, ignore the fact that as followers of Jesus Christ we will experience opposition. Jesus says as much in Matt. 5:11-12, among other places.
Rather than focusing on the temporary wrongs (whether external or internal) we are facing in life, these Psalms focus on the eternal good we receive from our God. In the surpassing beauty and wonder of the Gospel, the impact of these enemies should fade away.
I’m not advocating that we ignore the truth or act as if it simply doesn’t matter. What I am saying is that we let the Gospel define us. We let our saving relationship with Jesus Christ provide us with the strength we need for each day. And when the enemies attack us, we respond appropriately.
If they attack us because of a wrong we’ve committed, we repent and humbly ask for forgiveness (from God and them). If they attack because of our relationship with God, we maintain our focus on what God’s Word says to us, and we stand on the promise that victory is certain (1 Cor. 15:57). And in the meantime, we preach Law and Gospel (2 Tim. 4:2) so that through the power of the Word of God we might experience the joy of having an enemy transformed into a dear brother or sister in Christ.