“O Lord, how many are my foes!” (Psalm 3:1)
Foes. Enemies. Opposition. If you read through the Psalms, you’ll find those words occur about 130 times. Apparently for the psalmists having someone out to get them wasn’t an uncommon experience.
How about you? Do you have an enemy? That probably sounds melodramatic, but it’s not. Think about it. Sin is one of the most basic themes in Scripture. “Sinners” leads inevitably to “sinned against.” That’s a biblical, realistic view of the world. Sometimes the sins committed against us are minor, and reconciliation can occur. Sometimes even major sins can be forgiven and reconciled. But not always. The sinner who sins against you may have no intention of stopping and no desire for reconciliation. In other words, you may have an enemy.
I’ll let you color in the “enemy” picture: someone in the community. Someone on the internet. A boss. A coworker. An estranged family member. The question is how do you respond when you have enemies? What’s the godly reaction? In the rest of Psalm3, David is going to tell us. First hear him describe his situation.
“O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God” (Psalm 3:1-2).
He elaborates in v.6: many thousands have set themselves against him, surrounding him on all sides.
Does it feel that way with your enemy? Maybe not. You might read David’s words and think your situation is miniscule by comparison. That’s okay. David will teach us in the extreme how we should respond to opposition in every circumstance, great or small. It’s the same kind of situation. No matter who it is, no matter how large or small the attacks are, simply having someone doggedly against you wears you down. You feel either a burning desire to take control, justify yourself, and silence your enemy – or you feel helpless, out of control, and despondent. Both of those feelings have a centrifugal power. They draw you in, consuming more and more of your inner world. But there’s a way out.
“But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” (Psalm 3:3)
Now there are three parties involved: you, your enemies, and your God. And God’s is the decisive word. Do you hear who God is in this verse?
God is your protector. A shield takes the blows instead of you. God is your shield. No, it may not always feel that way – your enemy’s words and deeds may still hurt, and hurt deeply. But if you’re a child of God, here’s the promise: they won’t destroy you. They don’t define you. And they cannot derail God’s plan for you.
God is your glory. Wait. Glory? Yes, glory. Worth. Honor. Perhaps it feels like, through slander or accusations, your enemy has stolen that from you. Not if you’re God’s. He is your glory. You call him Abba, Father. You wear his colors. He smiles – even sings – over you. Your glory, your honor and significance, is beyond the reach of your enemies.
God is your vindication. An implacable enemy makes you long for vindication. You want it known that they are in the wrong and you are in the right. You can try to make that happen in your own power, but it’s a dangerous road. You become like the one you oppose. Here’s a different way. Wait, on bended knee, until God lifts your head. He will.
A God like this completely alters the experience of being sinned against, of having an enemy. And if you’re convinced this God is your God, you can respond in a new way. Look what David says and does. He talks to God: “I cried aloud to the LORD” (v.4). He rests in dependent trust: “I lay down and slept.” He makes resolutions: “I will not be afraid” (v.6). He cries out, passionately, for deliverance: “Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God!” (v.7). And he ends with the ultimate hope for all of God’s people: “Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people” (v.8). Isn’t this exactly what you need when you have enemies? Salvation. Deliverance. Rescue. It’s a straight line from this verse to the cross and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. He defeated his enemies and turned us, his one-time enemies, into friends. Salvation belongs to him. And not even our enemies can stop his blessing from flowing to us.
Photo by Ms Sara Kelly