“Because of his strength will I wait upon thee: for God is my defence. The God of my mercy shall prevent me: God shall let me see my desire upon mine enemies. Slay them not, lest my people forget: scatter them by thy power; and bring them down, O Lord our shield”
In today’s devotion I’d like to challenge you to look at your battle situation more scripturally in three areas:
Support of 4 pillars. Today may you know God as stronger than your greatest enemy. May you know him as your defense (your high place, your place of refuge, your strong tower of retreat.) May you know him as your mercy (goodness, kindness, faithfulness, beauty, favor) and as your shield (your defender, your cover, your hedge of protection, your force field.)
Slay them not lest my people forget. When under attack, it is natural for us to focus inward in self-preservation. David challenges us to swivel one eye outward and remember that despite the fire raging in and around us, this whole thing is not just about us:
David asks God to work out the crisis in such a way that “his people” will not forget. He knows that there are fellow believers in the arena of life watching the scenario unfold. He knows he is part of a grand story and that spirit beings are watching and engaged. Because he has a big-picture understanding and knows his God, he knows that future generations will be told of what is happening in his life.
Do you know that Beloved? Do you know you have a great cloud of witnesses? Do you know that people are talking about you and how you are handling yourself? Do you know your spectators are rooting for you in the battle even when you can’t see or hear them though the thundering of weaponry insulates you from their cheering? You are not alone. You are part of a team, part of a body. You are not your own. Fight with the team in mind. Though you may stationed at your post alone, you are part of a grand battalion. Do not forget that.
Withal, his goal in his battles is that “it will be known to the ends of the earth that God rules over Jacob,” v. 13. May we adopt that mentality and those words. “Father, may I win in this confrontation with my professor so that she will know that you rule (have dominion, govern) over her, not me, not herself, not humanism or any ‘ism, but you alone;” “May this case with my landlord work out so that he will know that you rule;” “May this scenario with my wayward child result in her knowing that that you rule.” “May this health scare result in my family and my healthcare team knowing that you rule. Amen?
Punishment of indulgence. God metes out various forms of punishment to the disobedient. Sometimes he finishes them off swiftly and they are no more. At other times he brings on clear consequences.
In Chapter 21 of Napping in Delilah’s Lap (13 Problems with Porn) I explore a curious form of punishment whereby God occasionally abandons one to their indulgence. What misdeed starts off as fun, if not repented of, becomes its own punishment. The “meat” we missed from Egypt fills us till we get so sick of it and it comes out of our nostrils (Numbers 11:20.) The forbidden fruit turns to gravel in the mouth (Proverbs 20:17.)
I write, “Pornography can be a form of God’s discipline. This is a tricky concept to which the pornographer might originally say, “Bring it on!” Unfortunately, intimacy with the Temptress is the last stop before the grave.
The mouth of an immoral woman is a deep pit;a man experiencing the LORD’s wrath will fall into it
Because of this, God handed them over to the vile desires of their heart to disgrace their bodies among themselves
(Romans 1:24, Aramaic Bible in Plain English).
May today’s devotion challenge you to look at your battle situation more scripturally. Battle on, soldier!
A man’s greatest fears in life are pain (physical and emotional) and death. Today’s passage packs powerful psychological truth. It paints a picture that well describes David Eckman’s ( of the wonderful ministry – Becoming What God Intended) Addiction Cycle. That theory posits that all addiction starts with unresolved pain.
In our lives, we all have desires or preferences also known as lusts (Heb. Ta’avah). Desire/lust is not necessarily sinful. The word itself is neutral, merely referring to a longing. If our desire is not fulfilled, we feel some degree of pain (It could be increased hunger, disappointment, loneliness, etc.) If we are raised in emotionally healthy homes, when we experience pain, we generally go to a loved one who either alleviates the pain or comforts us.
There are numerous ways to comfort the person due to the unfulfilled desire:
Meet the desire if we can/remove the source of pain.
Tend to any resulting wounds.
Acknowledge the pain.
Lovingly apologize or console.
If practical, give assurance that perhaps their desire will be fulfilled at another time.
Offer an explanation as to why it would not work.
Offer an option.
Check in later to see how their heart is doing and offer more comfort as needed, etc.
Offer to be a resource in the future.
This leads us to reexperience the warmth of relationship and restoration/ reconciliation.
If the pain is not attended to and/or not resolved, the tendency of human nature is to isolate or disassociate oneself from the source of pain. We may also disassociate from those around us who could prevent the pain but do not. To isolate, (Heb. parad), means to divide, to separate, to sunder. It paints a word picture of being out of joint. Ouch!
Another version of the KJV says, “Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom.”
Pain and disassociation are the groundwork for addiction and/or hang-ups.
Please read that again. If we eradicated that, all counselors would be out of work within a week. How functional is the shoulder above? Note that it does not have to be very far out of joint to render the owner immobile. We must be so mindful of pain. It is the “little things” that cripple us if they are not attended to. Imagine what happens to that shoulder if we do not attend to it or if it is repeatedly injured.
So it is with our souls. I’ve created the visual below to outline Dr Eckman’s Addiction Cycle.
Once we disassociate, we escape to a fantasy world which is the widest and surest portal to addiction. Unfortunately, most addiction work is focused on the blue circle. I believe that if we focused on the pain, disassociation and fantasy world, we would save a lot of time, heartache, and headache.
David seems to have entered the Princess Bride’s bog of perpetual misery in this section of the Psalms. It is easy for one who is at a peaceful place in life to say that these psalms are melding together. When one is in the crosshairs of an enemy, however, to him or her it seems eternal, and they can talk of nothing else. They are a broken record.
Let’s focus on David’s source of hope in his unrelenting affliction:
“Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth,” Ps. 58:11
The righteous are shielded:
“After these events, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.””
Even if the enemy succeeds and kills their bodies, the righteous are ushered into their true and unending bliss. Believers in God are indestructible.
2. God is just:
“Far be it from You to do such a thing–to kill the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Will not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?””
“He judges the world with justice; He governs the people with equity,”
If mortal man sees the injustice of destroying the righteous with the wicked, how much more so the righteous Judge who sees all?
3. Relief will be soon, sure, and swift:
“Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns—the wicked will be swept away,”
Thorns burn up fast and furiously, threatening a quick boil. The destruction of the enemy (thorns) will happen before the pot feels their heat. To the Israelites, trembling with dread at the sight of the approaching Egyptians to destroy them,
“Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.”
4. You can be glad then and now:
“The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they dip their feet in the blood of the wicked.”
“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For their fathers treated the prophets in the same way,”
May this knowledge strengthen and encourage us to endure hardship and keep the faith. Blessings, beloved!
“Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs, ratherthan a fool in his folly,”
A bear robbed of her cubs is mad as hell, and with good reason.
A bear has a gestation period of just over 200 days and most bears have a liter of 2-3 cubs. The American Bear Association says, “Cubs stay with their mother for 1 1/2 years. The family bond is very strong. The mother bear is affectionate, strict, protective and devoted to her cubs. Her primary concern is for their safety and education.” She defends her territory fiercely and will fight to the death for her cubs. She pours every minute of her life into loving and training her cubs.
This justifies the fury of a mama bear who has been robbed of her babies – whether she had the chance to fight for them or not. She is on a single-minded mission to find her babies. To meet her is to face a relatively quick, albeit gruesome, death.
A fool (Heb. – Kesyl) is stupid, silly, a simpleton, a dullard, an arrogant person. Depending on where you live, you probably don’t meet a bear every day, but you’ll meet a fool any ole day. This brute is more dangerous than the aforementioned beast. According to Strong’s concordance, folly, (Heb. – eviyl) means that the fool:
Is licentious (uncontrolled, incontinent, lax, disorderly, animal-like, lewd, anything goes)
Mocks when guilty and downplays what they have done.
Wow, he or she is an open barrel of explosives! The fool in his or her folly is an emotional lose cannon. In his folly, either he or she does not think he needs a great reason to emote as strongly as he does, or, any old reason is a good enough reason to blow up. The passage says he or she is more murderous than the mama bear. Unlike the bear, he or she has petty reason for it. Practically, the mama bear would only have this experience once in a couple of years. The fool is continually engaging in folly – foolishness is his or her regular state of being. The irate bear is on a mission to find her cubs. The fool’s mission is a fool’s errand.
Unlike the bear who shreds you from limb to limb and finishes you off quickly, dealing with the fool is a protracted agonizing death. If you are a parent of a fool, the Bible commiserates with you endlessly,
“He who begets a scoffer does so to his sorrow,and the father of a fool has no joy.A foolish son is a grief to his father,And bitterness to her who bore him.“
Pr. 17:21, 25.
As we study this, someone in your life might come to your mind. Stay away from that person if you can.
“Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals,”
1 Cor. 15:33.
Please allow me to inch a little closer and possibly step on a toe. Could it be that you are the fool? What if you are the one who engages in folly? Now, I hate being called a fool, maybe more than you do, but it would be a waste of time and a stroking of the Pharisee’s ego to study this and walk away unchallenged.
You may not realize it when it happens, buta kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you
The great theologian, Walt Disney.
The truth is, after looking at the 4 items described earlier, we must confess we all engage in folly from time to time. Sigh. My ministry’s goal is “to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, leading to godliness, in the hope of eternal life,” Titus 1:1, 2a. I aim to grow at least one of those categories in every encounter I have with you. I believe we can further all four of those goals in our lesson today.
Would you invoke Holy Spirit to help you in this delicate area?
“Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you,”
Pr. 4:7, 8
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,”
2. Curb your quarrelsome tongue.
“He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.
Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive,”
Pr. 17:27, 28.
3. Nurture self-control
“God has not given us a spirit of fearbut of power, love and a sound mind/self-control,”
2 Tim. 1:7
“Better a patient person than a warrior,one with self-control than one who takes a city,”
“Exercise self-control, be watchful.Your adversary, the Devil, like a roaring lion, is prowling about, eager to devour you,”
1 Pe. 5:8
Consider and even admit guilt. Do not downplay what you have done.
“Search me, oh God, and know my heart,try me and know my anxious thoughts, and see if there be any hurtful way in me,and lead me in the everlasting way,”
Ps. 139:23, 24
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective,”
In Frank McCourt’s riveting book Angela’s Ashes, he describes his squalid childhood in Ireland. At least one child was born to his poor Catholic parents every year for years without end – their house crawled with sickly, hungry, hollow-eyed children. At one point they dwelt in a two-story rental. Every miserable Irish winter, the downstairs would flood for weeks, further threatening them with the Consumption. Their family then jokingly referred to downstairs as Ireland, and upstairs where it was dry and warm(ish) as Italy. They all huddled upstairs and tried not to move about too much.
King David had an ‘Ireland’ and ‘Italy’ experience of his own in Psalm 57.
“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by,” v. 1.
David’s plea for mercy is so intense he must voice it twice. He pledges his trust in God alone. He had fled to the familiar wilderness and found a cave, possibly Adullum, as he had hoped. Yet his hope was not in the desert or in this safe cave. He knew that even those “comforts” could turn against him. We would do well to flee to our familiar safe places when we are in need, but to not to put our trust in them entirely. May we say, a thousand times a day, “I trust you Lord, I trust you Lord, I trust you, Lord!”
Remember the soul (Heb. Nephesh) as WAMPED – his Will, his Appetites, his Mind, his Passions, his Emotions, and his Desires. Everything he has and is, trusts in God. He looks around in the dark cave and envisions it as the safe shadow of a mighty wing where he is sheltered and can feel the heartbeat of his loving mother-God. My heart thrills at the assuredness that the calamities will pass – no matter how numerous or how long they last. They. Will. Pass by!
“I will cry out to God Most High, to God who performs all things for me,” v.2
He wades in the frigid and disgusting waters in Ireland that desire to consume him. He is reduced by trouble to the simplicity of a child whose base reaction is to cry out when in need. His soul flaps the wings of the dove he wished for in Ps. 55:5 and they convey him to his Most High, his Italy. He knows well that his every effort and every success is a grace and a performance of God on his behalf. Do you know that you can perform nothing for yourself? Are you convinced of your weakness, your inability, your impotence to do even the simplest thing without him? He performs all things for you. He maintains your heartbeat, your brainwaves, your kidney function, your calcium channels, your work, your leisure, your environment, your very life – all things!
“He shall send from heaven and save me; He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. Selah God shall send forth His mercy and His truth,” v. 3.
Oh, this scintillates me. One of my favorite prayers is Ps. 20, “May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble; May the name of the God of Jacob defend you; May He send you help from the sanctuary, and strengthen you out of Zion;” vs. 1, 2. What help we have! At our disposal are legions of angels, natural and supernatural forces. Visualize them being sent on assignment, heading your way. There as many as the McCourts had children, and then some. We studied this in God’s SWAT Team Comes For You (tribalminded.com)
And sometimes the Cloud-Rider Himself accompanies them! “He bowed the heavens also and came down with darkness under His feet. And He rode upon a cherub and flew; He flew upon the wings of the wind. He sent from above, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support,” Ps 20:9, 10, 16-18.
“My soul is among lions; I lie among the sons of men who are set on fire, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword,” Ps. 57:4 Have you any doubt that his enemies are formidable? Are you convinced of their ill motive and suitable weaponry for the job?
“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth,” v.5. Move your eyes from the drudgery and danger of the murky waters your cold feet wade in in Ireland. Open the eyes of your heart and lift them high, higher, to the place where you are seated with Christ in the heavenlies. Behold the glory there and marvel at a domain more opulent than Italy. Beloved, you can transport yourself there in an instant, much like climbing a flight of steps. Whatever you are going through, abandon sloshing around in the mire and climb those steps of faith to your real reality.
“They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down; they have dug a pit before me; into the midst of it they themselves have fallen. Selah,” v. 6. Observe the trouble they have gone to – meticulously crafting nets and gathering tools to secretly dig pits. They spare no expense. No effort. Surely, they must be successful, my soul is bowed down. My Will is bent. My appetite is diminished. My mind is fogged up. My passions are quelled and my desires dashed. My soul is bowed down. What a lowly estate? What a pathetic, vulnerable plight. But whoa, because of who goes before me, because of who delights in me, a quick scuffle ensues and in ways I cannot understand, they are netted and find themselves fallen into the hole they dug for me.
“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise. Awake, my glory! Awake, lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn,” vs. 7, 8. Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning, (Ps. 30:5). It comes beloved, though it tarry, it will come. It was a record 118 degrees yesterday and one of my favorite plants, a gorgeous angel’s trumpet drooped pitifully in the oppressive heat. My heart was crushed. But within minutes of watering it, those magnificent leaves perked right up with but a few crusties as battle scars. May your heart be steadfast, mighty warrior, indomitable as a hopeful prisoner of war.
Do not forget your song. It is your war cry. Resolve now that you will sing; that you will give praise. That is your soul-talk. Don’t wait for your circumstances to get better so you can praise. Grab your weapons of warfare. Praise from the lion’s den, Daniel. Praise in the fiery furnace, Mishack. Sing in your prison cell, Paul. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” 1 Cor. 10:3-5. Do not be a victim of your various situations. Arise mighty warrior! Awake your glory if it sleepeth. Awake your dawn. Show it how it is done.
Master your thinking, beloved. Your thoughts can be a prison of your own making. Your thoughts can set your body on fire. Your thoughts can be as ravenous lions, devouring you. Every cell in your body is listening to your thoughts and responding accordingly. Subject any untamed cubs to the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and bring every single one into captivity to obey him or they will terrorize you and keep you corralled in your Ireland.
“I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations. For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens, and Your truth unto the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be above all the earth,” vs. 9-11. Lord we will praise you in our Irelands. We will praise you in our Italies. We will praise your goodness and your kindness; your faithfulness and your beauty. We will go upstairs and exalt you high, high above the earth, high above the heavens, great God of the nations!
PROVERBS 17:5 “He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.”
We all love it when Karma does her work. ( as formerly blogged on https://tribalminded.com/2021/02/24/gloating-karma-is-a-bitch.) We love the concept that what goes around comes around. Rare is the person who would not chuckle at their ‘enemy’ getting their just desserts. I for one call “divine retribution” when a meanie faces their punishment, such as when my husband stubs his toe right after popping me with a towel. It’s the funniest thing on earth.
The second part of this verse causes me to bristle because it does not qualify whose calamity we are being glad about. It makes clear sense that if good folks face misfortune, our hearts go out to them. What about when our enemies face trouble? Trapp says, “To render good for evil is divine, good for good is human, evil for evil is brutish, evil for good is devilish.” Place yourself on the pyramid above. I generally hang out at somewhere between the brutish and the human stage. I’ve been known to hang out at the devilish tier and on a couple of occasions, on the divine tier.
My position on the pyramid at any given time runs smack into the gospel. Whenever we come around a corner and meet Jesus, he is thrilled to see us and then notorious for calling us out. So, what does he have to say about this matter? Pr. 25:21, 22, “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”
Paul expounds on it in Romans 12:17-21, “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
“Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them.” Proverbs 24:17, 18. I dont know what you’re dealing with today or what is coming down your pike. But you are to get out there, God-bearer and do this thing on this hotting day in the Pacific Northwest. He goes before you, behind you, beside you, and within you to help you rise to the next tier on the pyramid. Not only will you escape punishment, but you will receive a reward!
We last left David wishing that he had the wing of a dove so he could flee to the wilderness and find rest. You know you are hard up when your desire is to flee to a desert for refuge! Here we meet him singing to the tune of “The Silent Dove in Distant Lands.” His faith served as the wing he needed. His God came through for him again!
I haven’t painted in months and lately I’m so thrilled to stand at my easel again with brush in hand. I’m working on this beauty for my precious friend friend Janet who just turned (ahem…) and has walked in the wilderness in the last few years. This verse has buoyed me of late…
5 Problems with Misunderstanding the Work-Eat Relationship
“The person who labors, labors for himself, for his hungry mouth drives him on,” Pr. 16:26 NKJV
God has intricately connected two basic concepts: working and eating. We know that when God sets up a principle, the enemy sets up a perversion. Most perversions are insidious. The one on today’s lesson walks up and brazenly flips the principle upside down, saying, you don’t have to work at all to eat. A few problems arise from this mindset.
It impedes everyday life and development. Employers in my region are in a quandary. As an indirect result of Covid-19, they can’t find people interested in work. Many employees are happily sitting at home enjoying government-issued relief checks that surpass what they earn. Why on earth would they want to go to work? According to the Cambridge Bible for Schools and colleges, “The desire which craves satisfaction [hunger] is the motive power, impelling to the labour by which it is satisfied.”
“All a man’s labor is for his mouth, yet his appetite is never satisfied,” Ecc. 6:7. This is the spring that propels our industry. If we want the fire of labor, we must stoke it with hunger (the appetite.) That is how God set up the system. Otherwise, the spring loses its bounce and therefore its purpose.
2. Habitual rescuing is dangerous and bottomless. There is certainly a time and place for people to be rescued. Unfortunately, habitual rescuing without consequences lays solid groundwork for dysfunctional enabling. “A man of great wrath will suffer punishment; For if you rescue him, you will have to do it again,” Pr 19:19. Though that great verse speaks of an anger problem, the principle translates beautifully to all manner of vices including our study today which is about promoting laziness. Constant rescuing is not sustainable and places an unfair and back-breaking burden on someone else.
Pr. 6:6-8, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” Each person needs to pull his own weight as they are able. Every chance we get, we need to teach children the value of work and contribution. We have to raise the bar for them. We must challenge adults to work. Otherwise the bible calls them a sluggard – the root word for which is a slug!
3. Laziness is deceptive. Pr. 26:16, “A sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven people who answer discreetly.”
We have studied numerous lessons in Proverbs addressed to the sluggard. It seems that Solomon cannot say enough about how despicable it is. The sluggard presents an interesting conundrum. Despite his laziness, he sees himself to be very wise indeed. He thinks he has things figured out and behaves accordingly. He holds himself in incredibly high esteem. While his body moves toward productivity like old molasses on a winter morning, his mouth revs like a Ferrari. He is even likely to proudly compare himself to others around him. He rates himself in the brilliance category. Again, his esteem of others and his attitude towards work is all wrong. That is because the sluggard is also a fool – despite his giftedness and smarts.
4. The French say that he who wants bread thinks of everything. An empty belly fuels one to figure out how to fill it. It is amazing to see how creative people can get in an effort to meet their needs. A full belly sustains the body and is necessary for life and thought. There has to be the cycle between filling and emptying of the belly. If you’re always full, you don’t experience the drive necessary to spur invention and creativity. There is no need for it if all your needs are met. Necessity is the mother of invention.
“The belly is the teacher of all arts, the parent of invention.”
5. Most importantly, it flies in the face of scripture. Paul said, “We commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat,” 2 Thessalonians 3:10. I guarantee you that there are a lot more people eating than there are working. I’m speaking to able believers of Jesus. Get off your rump and work. Quit with the long list of excuses. Your human dignity is derived from your work whether the work is grand or menial. The matter of work is the essence of who you are. Work is not a curse, it is a rich blessing. Your work and the way you do it is an act of worship. It reflects your relationship with God and what you think of him. Allow your hungry mouth to drive you farther than the fridge
“The person who labors, labors for himself, for his hungry mouth drives him on,” Pr. 16:26 NKJV
“If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God, as we walked about among the worshipers. My companion attacks his friends; he violates his covenant. His talk is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords,”
Ps. 55: 12-14, 20, 21
It is hard enough when an enemy comes against you. One experiences horrendous hopelessness when a “close friend” who knows all your secrets and all your ways attacks you. Have you known the betrayal of a fellow believer? It stabs to untold depths and leaves you utterly confounded. It potentially splits the larger fellowship of believers as many feel obligated to take sides, leaving you untrusting of your greatest support at your greatest time of need. This friend violates the unspoken contracts of trust and faithfulness. A one-time inadvertent betrayal hurts badly enough, but this friend’s persistence in his duplicity, protracts the pain of his betrayal.
Yet, let us tread with caution knowing that the betrayed here, is not altogether innocent. David himself has demonstrated well the guile of turning on a companion, a close friend. Uriah knows well the unexpected stab of this dagger in the back; and that from the hand of David in the heels of talk that was as smooth as butter and soothing as oil. Little did Uriah know the letter he carried back to his superior in the battlefield was his death order from his “close friend”!
“As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning, and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice,” vs. 16, 17.
When one cries in the morning, they have all day to process the pain and hope for the reprieve of sweet sleep at night. When one cries out in distress in the evening, it may augur for a long night that spills into a dismal tomorrow.
“He rescues me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me,” v. 18. Though the enemy pelts him with the stones of slander, though they attack him from all sides, David knows his God is a shield about him and that he will emerge from the scuffle unharmed. Though hair and fur fly, with God’s help he can scale a wall, no matter how many foes assail him. He knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that God will give him his shield of victory. “Let not them that are wrongfully mine enemies rejoice over me; let them not wink with the eye that hate me without cause,” Ps. 35:19.
“God, who is enthroned from of old, who does not change— he will hear them and humble them, because they have no fear of God,” v. 19. David knows that God is not a new leader who does not know or understand his history. He counts on the Ancient of Days to see into and remember the heart of every man or woman. He is confident that his plea will be heard, as will his enemy’s. Any words the adversary speaks to God will only tighten their own noose because God hears their hypocritical plea. It is a fearsome and reassuring state to realize that God is not mocked. He is not hoodwinked.
“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. But you, God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of decay; the bloodthirsty and deceitful will not live out half their days. But as for me, I trust in you,” vs. 22, 23.
David Guzik highlights commentator Morgan’s insight on the movement in this psalm from fear to fury and now finally to faith. “Fear leads only to desire to flee. Fury only emphasizes the consciousness of the wrong. Faith alone creates courage.”
If you have been betrayed, remember that Jesus knows the sting of betrayal by a friend. The betrayer writes his own death sentence. He carries and doles out his own noose. If you are under the weight of distress from betrayal find strength from Spurgeon, “If I cast my burden upon the Lord, what business have I to carry it myself? How can I truthfully say that I have cast it upon him if still I am burdened with it?”
“The preparations of the heart belong to man…” Proverbs 16:1a
Because we are created in God’s image, like him, we are planners. We love to do, to make arrangements, to make things happen. What a glorious trait. What a great responsibility. We alter and impact our environment to suit our needs. Both those we seek God and those who do not are capable of this. We don’t “need” God to do so. Within his sovereignty, we can even do things that are contrary to him and what he stands for.
King David had a plan. His plan makes a wonderful case study. He eagerly desired to build a permanent structure for Yahweh to be worshipped in. “King David rose to his feet and said: “… I had it in my heart to build a [Temple] … and I made plans to build it,” 1 Chron. 28:2. 3
1. Know what lights up your heart? What dream can you not get off your mind, even year after year? God loves to place a seed in your heart and then to partner with you to bring it about, for his glory. Dream. Seek his plan for you. Rise up above the crowd that mindlessly flows along and does only what others have planned and worked at. Your plan may be to support others in their plans. If so, find a worthy Dream to come alongside. Follow your dreams and don’t hop from one to another without ever accomplishing any. If you must change plans, use what you’ve learned to feed the next plan.
2. Mindfully make plans to bring your Dream to life. Cast your vision forward. Visualize your dream as reality. Teach your children to dream and practice making dreams come true whether it’s preparing a great dinner or planning a play date. That shows them the hard work it takes to make even a small dream come true. It teaches them to be leaders and problem solvers. Demonstrate it by verbalizing and performing your dreams/plans. Ask teenagers their opinions (as though you have to 😊) and engage them in intelligent conversation so they can learn how to think.
3. Plan for course-correction.
It helps to know that The Dream is not about you. I say it again: The Dream is not about you. It is about God and his glory.
“God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood,’”
1 Chron. 28:3.
There are times when he will need you to step out of the way. He gave David a reason why he would not be the one to fulfill The Dream. He may or may not give you a reason. Be okay with that too. Our fleshly motives and egos easily get entangled with our dreams and plans. Hold them loosely to God to detangle that for you.
4. Step down when it is time
“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work,” 1 Chron. 28:9, 10.
Bow out graciously when your role in The Dream is over. Do not be like an actor who will not exit the stage when their lines are done. Prepare your successor. Prepare him or her physically, mentally, and spiritually. Prepare them for more in life than just The Dream. Empower them verbally and in deed and remind them it’s not just about them either. Prepare them for difficulty. Every Dream worth having is difficult and daunting. You will be afraid and discouraged along the way.
5. Give them The Plans
“Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the portico of the temple, its buildings, its storerooms, its upper parts, its inner rooms and the place of atonement. He gave him the plans of ALL that the Spirit had put in his mind for the courts of the temple of the Lord and all the surrounding rooms, for the treasuries of the temple of God and for the treasuries for the dedicated things. He gave him instructions for the divisions of the priests and Levites, and for all the work of serving in the temple of the Lord, as well as for all the articles to be used in its service. He designated the weight of gold for all the gold articles to be used in various kinds of service, and the weight of silver for all the silver articles to be used in various kinds of service: the weight of gold for the gold lampstands and their lamps, with the weight for each lampstand and its lamps; and the weight of silver for each silver lampstand and its lamps, according to the use of each lampstand; the weight of gold for each table for consecrated bread; the weight of silver for the silver tables; the weight of pure gold for the forks, sprinkling bowls and pitchers; the weight of gold for each gold dish; the weight of silver for each silver dish; and the weight of the refined gold for the altar of incense. He also gave him the plan for the chariot, that is, the cherubim of gold that spread their wings and overshadow the ark of the covenant of the Lord,” 1 Chron. 28:11-18.
Can you imagine how long it took David to prepare all this? It is easy to keep things in our mind/heart. What happens when life happens and we’re not there anymore to continue The Dream.
a. Use discretion and share important aspects of The Dream along the way. When you are ready to pick a successor, share ALL that the Spirit has laid on your heart. Did I say that it is not your Dream and that it is not about you? The Dream is Spirit work. Do not hoard parts of it to make yourself indispensable.
What if they take it and run with it? Again, use much discretion regarding who you share with. The Dream is sacred and special. It is not to be broadcast all over the place. Find trusted people to share with. If they do take it and run with it, glorify God that his Dream is coming true. Trust him to right what wrongs have been done to you. He will guard both you and The Dream. You are more than The Dream.
b. Write things down. If it’s important, it’s worth writing. If your life is important, keep a journal. Someone will greatly value that someday. That someone may be you!
“All this,” David said, “I have in writing as a result of the Lord’s hand on me, and he enabled me to understand all the details of the plan.” David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.
1 Chron. 28:19, 20.
In closing, consider these wonderful words from our passage today. Invoke the Master of the Dreams in yours. He will blow you away!
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:3, 9.