Psalm 56 – In God We Trust

Have pity, God Most High!
    My enemies chase me all day.
Many of them are pursuing
    and attacking me,
    but even when I am afraid,
    I keep on trusting you.
I praise your promises!
I trust you and am not afraid.
    No one can harm me.

Enemies spend the whole day
    finding fault with me;
    all they think about
    is how to do me harm.
They attack from ambush,
    watching my every step
    and hoping to kill me.
They won’t get away
    with these crimes, God,
    because when you get angry,
    you destroy people.

You have kept record
    of my days of wandering.
You have stored my tears
in your bottle
    and counted each of them.

When I pray, Lord God,
    my enemies will retreat,
    because I know for certain
    that you are with me.
I praise your promises!
I trust you and am not afraid.
    No one can harm me.

I will keep my promises
to you, my God,
    and bring you gifts.
You protected me from death
    and kept me from stumbling,
so that I would please you
    and follow the light
    that leads to life. (Contemporary English Version)

We all have enemies and opposition of both body and soul. It’s just part of the human condition on this fallen planet to experience forces oppressing us.

David’s enemies were real flesh and blood people. The Philistines and the Israelites were always at odds with each other. Wars and battles continually broke out amongst them. Dealing with enemies was, and always has been, a constant reality of the Jewish people.

As for us Gentiles, we may or may not have a person seeking to take our life. Yet, no matter who we are, we all deal with our own visible and invisible enemies which wage war against our souls.

The psalmist expresses a way of coping with the intense stress of opposition: Trust in God.

Yes, the bedrock issue whenever we face our demons within and without is trust. In whom or what will we put our trust?

If we have a philosophy of watching out for number one, then we merely look to ourselves and our own independence. Yet, since humanity is hard-wired for community, radical autonomy hits its limit rather quickly. Thus, we are left vulnerable to our enemies with no means of security.

If we put our trust in education, then we will focus efforts on mental solutions, coming up with ideas to deal with our enemies. However, since our very personhood is much more than a brain, this too shall eventually meet its limits with our stressful situation.

If we possess a strong Protestant work ethic, we may put all our energy into working harder, better, and faster to overcome our enemies. But subscribing to a philosophy of outworking everyone fails when our bodies break trying to keep ahead of the stress.

We must account for the transcendent, for that which is over and above all. We must trust in the Lord.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    don’t rely on your own intelligence.
Know him in all your paths,
    and he will keep your ways straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6, CEB

To trust means to live consistent with the reality that we are in the Lord’s hands. Our ultimate protection is divine, not human. Not realizing we are in the grip of the Almighty only causes fear, anxiety, and the frenetic search to get out from under our enemy’s oppression.

When all is said and done, our hard circumstances point us to the hard realization that we are not in control of the universe – and not even the people standing right in front of us. Attempting to control others is called manipulation. And, I might add, is something that never ends well. We are only in control of ourselves, and even then, if our primary enemy is within, we can rarely even manage our own lives.

Deciding about whom or what we will trust is the existential basis of living. Hardship, stress, and fear in the teeth of enemy opposition calls for trust. Without faith, we will be swallowed alive.

Faith and trust is not only personal; it’s communal. The entire community of believers are to affirm together that God is with us, and that in Jesus Christ, there is no fear; there is security.

If God is for us, no one can stand against us. And God is with us. He even let his own Son suffer for us. God gave his Son for all of us. So now with Jesus, God will surely give us all things. Who can accuse the people God has chosen? No one! God is the one who makes them right. Who can say that God’s people are guilty? No one! Christ Jesus died for us, but that is not all. He was also raised from death. And now he is at God’s right side, speaking to him for us. Can anything separate us from Christ’s love? Can trouble or problems or persecution separate us from his love? If we have no food or clothes or face danger or even death, will that separate us from his love? As the Scriptures say,

“For you we are in danger of death all the time.
    People think we are worth no more than sheep to be killed.”

But in all these troubles we have complete victory through God, who has shown his love for us. Yes, I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love—not death, life, angels, or ruling spirits. I am sure that nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us or nothing below us—nothing in the whole created world—will ever be able to separate us from the love God has shown us in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39, ERV)

There is a way through the thicket of hate from others. It is to trust in the Lord with all our heart, to have the unshakable faith that the Lord is with us, to know we are ultimately in God’s gracious hands.

O God, the Creator of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth; deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you in Jesus Christ; in whose Name we pray. Amen.

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