Today’s verse from the Psalms.
Lord God, I thank you for coming along side me
and protecting me from harm.
Time after time, you have been my help.
You have led me along the road of life.
In Jesus’ name I give thanks.
Reading: Psalm 57
For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.”
Of David. A miktam.
When he had fled from Saul into the cave.
Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God, who vindicates me.
He sends from heaven and saves me,
rebuking those who hotly pursue me—
God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.
I am in the midst of lions;
I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth (NIV).*
Have you ever had one of those mornings where you just want to pull the covers over your head and hide away from the world? David was having one of those days when he composed Psalm 57. But in David’s case, he wasn’t just trying to avoid a snarly boss. His boss, King Saul, was hunting David down to kill him. Needless to say, there must have been some fervor in David’s plea for help. “Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.”
The phrase ‘take refuge in the shadow of your wings’ reminds me of a story etched on my mind from my childhood. My dog, Champ, absolutely loved any newborn creature on the farm. He instantly became the newborn’s defender. Generally, this worked out very well, and we appreciated his hovering affection. All was fine until one day our pet bantam hen brought her newly hatched chicks to our backyard.
Champ was thrilled at the sight of these tiny fluff balls. He greeted them with a bark and vigorously wagged his tail to welcome these new arrivals. Mother hen misunderstood his intentions. She hastily gathered her chicks under her wings to defend them from this wild beast. Champ was outraged. Surely this hen had swallowed up these defenseless chicks. He began to bark at her fiercely, trying to get her off her brood. The hen simply tightened her wings down on the chicks. Laughing at the sight of this, we called off our well-intentioned but misguided dog.
Our heavenly Father is our wise and well-intentioned protector. Do we refuse His help? We are eternally safe in the shelter of His wings. Let Him draw you close today.
Response: LORD God, you are my defender. Help me daily to appreciate your love and protection. When the cruelty of this world assaults me, I find shelter under your wings. Amen.
Your Turn: Do we sometimes push away from our secure place near the heart of God?
Some good news: The first volume of 365 Days through the Psalms by award-winning author David Kitz will be published in November, 2020, by Elk Lake Publishing. Two additional volumes will follow in 2021 to complete the three volume set.
Reading: Psalm 140
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
Rescue me, LORD, from evildoers;
protect me from the violent,
who devise evil plans in their hearts
and stir up war every day.
They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s;
the poison of vipers is on their lips.
Keep me safe, LORD, from the hands of the wicked;
protect me from the violent,
who devise ways to trip my feet.
The arrogant have hidden a snare for me;
they have spread out the cords of their net
and have set traps for me along my path (NIV).
Psalm 140 is attributed to David. Our reading today is really a prayer for personal safety. David lived during a very violent time in the history of Israel and the entire eastern Mediterranean region. It was a period of technological transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age. Historic transitions are never smooth sailing. They are often accompanied by intense warfare, and economic and social collapse. Rival forces vie for power. Out of the ashes new leadership emerges.
That was the world that David, the shepherd boy was born into. The Philistines were the first to adopt the new iron tools, and they used their technological superiority to dominate and subjugate Israel. See 1 Samuel 13:19-22. What followed were several decades of fierce struggle, as Israel under Saul resisted the Philistines and fought back. Eventually, under David’s leadership Israel emerged triumphant. But none of this was a foregone conclusion. It was a massive struggle with much bloodshed.
David not only had foreign enemies; he also had to watch out for sedition within his own ranks. All too often the responsibilities of leadership mean walking around with a giant bulls-eye painted on your back. If anything goes wrong, you are the first one to be attacked by your own people. In David’s time, being the king was a high risk occupation. Assassination and revolt were common.
On a personal level, we too are in a struggle—a spiritual struggle for survival and dominion. Will the Spirit of Christ reign in us, or will we succumb to the spirit of this age? Will we take up the full armor of God and fight the good fight of faith, or will we believe the lies of the enemy and fall into a cesspool of sin and deception? Are we vigilant and constant in prayer like David, or do we lack the self-discipline that is essential for victory over the enemy of our soul?
David’s prayer should be our prayer too. Keep me safe, LORD, from the hands of the wicked; protect me from the snares that have been set to entangle me.
Response: LORD God, keep me alert. A spiritual battle is raging around me. I want to be a warrior who knows and hears his Commander. Jesus, your blood was shed to secure my victory. Thank you. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you aware of the snares that trip you up? Are you hearing the Commander’s voice?
Reading: Psalm 115
All you Israelites, trust in the LORD—
he is their help and shield.
House of Aaron, trust in the LORD—
he is their help and shield.
You who fear him, trust in the LORD—
he is their help and shield.
The LORD remembers us and will bless us:
He will bless his people Israel,
he will bless the house of Aaron,
he will bless those who fear the LORD—
small and great alike.
May the LORD cause you to flourish,
both you and your children.
May you be blessed by the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
The highest heavens belong to the LORD,
but the earth he has given to mankind.
It is not the dead who praise the LORD,
those who go down to the place of silence;
it is we who extol the LORD, both now and forevermore.
Praise the LORD (NIV).
As a sharp contrast to placing our trust in the lifeless idols of this world, Psalm 115 calls us to place our trust in God. Today’s reading begins with a threefold call to trust the LORD. All you Israelites, trust in the LORD—he is their help and shield. House of Aaron, trust in the LORD—he is their help and shield. You who fear him, trust in the LORD—he is their help and shield.
For those who are logically minded, there is a simple equation or formula at work here. Trust in the LORD results in help and protection—he is their help and shield. Our trust or faith in God brings a response from Him. The LORD’s response is both active and passive. He provides help; He intervenes by actively assisting us. From personal experience I know the LORD has been my help. In the nick of time He has provided words of knowledge and wisdom. He has been my constant guide. When needed most, He has opened the windows of heaven and poured out blessings. He has sent help in various forms, and in ways too numerous to mention.
But the LORD is also our shield—our passive protection. He protects us from the slings and arrows of the evil one. He shields us from the enemy’s attacks, whether it is from physical harm, or spiritual attacks that undermine our faith through faulty reasoning or deceptive philosophies. The LORD is our sure defense. We can draw strength from this promise: He will bless those who fear the LORD—small and great alike.
Response: Father God, I trust you to be my help and my shield. Keep me safe from the evil one. Thank you for all your help through the years. You have been faithful to keep your word. Amen.
Your Turn: Can you think of instances when God has helped you?
Reading: Psalm 141
Their rulers will be thrown down from the cliffs,
and the wicked will learn that my words were well spoken.
They will say, “As one plows and breaks up the earth,
so our bones have been scattered at the mouth of the grave.”
But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign LORD;
in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death.
Keep me safe from the traps set by evildoers,
from the snares they have laid for me.
Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
while I pass by in safety (NIV).
King David lived in treacherous times, and the opening lines from today’s reading reflect that reality. In fact, in its entirety Psalm 141 is a prayer for protection and personal safety. David had enemies who were eager to see his demise.
On a personal level the same is true for every redeemed believer. The apostle Peter provides us with this reminder: Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Our very survival depends on heeding Peter’s advice.
David pleads for safety from the traps and snares that have been set for him. This brings to mind the word circumspect. As we move forward in life, we should be alert and circumspect. Circumspect is actually a compound Latin word. The circum portion of the word means around, or literally in a circle. The spect portion of the word means to look or see; this is the root for words such as spectacle or inspect. The circumspect person is looking around, so he does not step into the snares of the enemy.
But if we are truly circumspect, we don’t only look down for snares and traps. It is essential that we also look up. David expresses this thought with these words. But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign LORD; in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death.
The writer of Hebrews urges us on in our faith with these words: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-3).
During this season of my life, I need eyes that are fixed on Jesus. He knows where the snares are, and he is well able to deliver each of us from the jaws of the enemy.
Response: Sovereign LORD, I commit my thoughts and ways to you. Guide me in the way of holiness for your name’s sake. I fix my eyes on you, Jesus, babe in a manger, suffering Savior, and my risen Lord. Amen.
Your Turn: How alert are you to the devil’s tactics? Are you fixing your eyes on Jesus?