I will praise Him!
Reading: Psalm 140
I say to the LORD, “You are my God.”
Hear, LORD, my cry for mercy.
Sovereign LORD, my strong deliverer,
you shield my head in the day of battle.
Do not grant the wicked their desires, LORD;
do not let their plans succeed (NIV).
On a beautiful spring evening almost twenty years ago, I went for a bicycle ride with my fourteen-year-old son, Josh. At that time, there were some beautiful mountain bike trails on a forest-covered escarpment above our home. After exploring these trails for a while the time came for us to return home.
We crossed to the opposite side of the paved road and began our descent down the hill. Of course our bikes began to pick up speed—no pedaling needed. There was a traffic light at the bottom of the hill where we needed to make a right turn down our street. Soon Josh was well ahead of me. He went sailing around that corner at top speed and launched himself and his bike onto the sidewalk. What Josh could not see due to a tall hedge was the minivan pulling into the intersection directly ahead.
Boom! His bike collided with the back wheel and side of the minivan. Next, I see Josh’s body flying over the roof of the van. I expect to find him dead or disabled on the other side of the vehicle. Not so. Miraculously, not so! He was shaken but conscious. We rushed him to a hospital to have him checked. No signs of concussion were detected. Answered prayer and his bicycle helmet saved him. The minivan owner was not so fortunate. Josh’s head dented the rear roof column. Body shop repairs cost $1,600.
David voices this prayer in today’s reading from Psalm 140: Sovereign LORD, my strong deliverer, you shield my head in the day of battle.
Is your head shielded? It’s your body’s most crucial asset. You can lose a limb—several limbs—and survive. But your head is essential. A lot of Christians are losing the battle for their heads these days. By that I mean we are filling our minds with the philosophical garbage and filth of this world. Many of the most active sites on the World Wide Web are porn sites. Christian men are particularly vulnerable.
Paul, the apostle, admonishes us: Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11). One of the most important elements of that armor is the helmet of salvation. Are you certain of your salvation? Our salvation is as certain as the blood of Christ. It’s as certain as the empty tomb. But if we do not guard our minds and our eyes, which are the gateway to the mind, we can quickly find ourselves vulnerable. We need self-control and God’s help—His shielding. It doesn’t take long to pick up speed when your mind starts rolling downhill. Is your helmet on?
Response: Sovereign LORD, my strong deliverer, you shield my head in the day of battle. Do not grant the wicked their desires, LORD; do not let their plans succeed. I put on the helmet of salvation. I commit my thoughts and ways to you. Amen.
Your Turn: How vulnerable are you to attacks from the enemy? Are you holding your ground?
Reading: Psalm 35
Contend, LORD, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me.
Take up shield and armor; arise and come to my aid.
Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me.
Say to me, “I am your salvation.”
May those who seek my life be disgraced and put to shame;
may those who plot my ruin be turned back in dismay.
May they be like chaff before the wind,
with the angel of the LORD driving them away;
may their path be dark and slippery,
with the angel of the LORD pursuing them (NIV).
David was a man acquainted with warfare. Throughout his life, Israel was in a prolonged struggle with its neighbours, even as it is today. From time to time this struggle would flare into open combat. Quite naturally in those times David would turn to the LORD in prayer. Psalm 35 is David’s call for help against his enemies—enemies that may be external or internal.
Who doesn’t want God on their side? The answer is obvious; we all want God’s help when we find ourselves in trouble. Therefore, David cries out: Contend, LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me.
But there are some questions we should ask ourselves before we enlist the LORD’s help. Am I being truthful? Is my cause just? Am I in the right? Do I know all the facts in this matter? Am I seeing this issue solely from a narrow personal perspective? Finally, we should ask ourselves if our heart is right. One can be totally right about a matter, but have a heart that is full of hate, bitterness, jealousy and anger.
God always stands on the side of truth and justice. He knows the full extent of a matter. He sees all sides, not just our perspective. We can’t fool Him or hide from His searching eyes. The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion (Psalm 11:5). Therefore, we need to come before Him humbly with hearts opened wide.
David asks this of the LORD: Say to me, “I am your salvation.”
The LORD will be our salvation—He is on our side—if our hearts are open and humble before Him. David’s confession in Psalm 51 confirms this truth. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise (Psalm 51:17). In other words, God is on our side when we move to His side in honest, humble contrition.
Response: LORD God, give me a humble heart that sees beyond my narrow interests. Help me to stand for righteousness, justice and truth. First, I want to align my heart and my spirit with you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Your Turn: Has the LORD fought on your side? Did you need to get your heart right first?
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 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 [the LORD] 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 opened the windows of heaven and poured out blessings when needed most. He has sent help in various forms and in ways too numerous to mention.
But the LORD is also our shield. 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?