Rules of self-defence – Psalm 57

One of the first rules of self-defence, is – Don’t be a victim. Walking confidently and not looking people in the eye, means they are less likely to pick on you. Easier to say than do, but worth practising when you are feeling a bit vulnerable.

In Psalm 57, David was feeling very vulnerable. He reminded himself that God was his protection. He didn’t look at the problem, he didn’t look at his attackers, he focused on God, and reminded himself that no assailant could get past this mighty defender.

Then he operated another strange ‘rule’ – the power of praise. In that bleakest of situations, he worshipped God, he exalted God, he sang and played to the glory of God. That didn’t stop him experiencing the odd wobbler in the middle of it (v6); David was human just like us. But then he got his eyes right back on God. No victim mentality. He knew he could live on to proclaim the wonder and majesty of Almighty God.

Life can throw us many challenges, some life-threatening, some peace-threatening. At those times, remember God is in the room. Walk tall and worship.

Psalm 57:1 Psalm 57:1-11

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What to do with fear – Psalm 56

Fear is natural. We all know about the adrenalin rush – the fight or flight mechanism, that might save our lives if we were being chased by a bear. King David must have experienced it countless times as a shepherd, when he needed that extra chemical boost to chase off the predators of his precious sheep. We know too, that the same adrenalin rush is really bad for us when the enemy is not one we can physically fight or run from. We call it anxiety, and too much of it can lead to serious health problems.

In Psalm 56 David is showing clear signs of anxiety. He had good reason; his life was in great danger, but he was in captivity by the Philistines, and could neither fight nor run. It seems too, that they were running a propaganda campaign against him, inciting hatred and increasing the threat of danger against him.

It would have been foolish not to take heed of the danger he was in, and he couldn’t simply resolve not to be afraid. Nature will not allow that. He did the only thing possible – turn his gaze upon God, the only one who could fix it for him, choose to trust him, then wait quietly for the fear to subside. Easy! No, not really. Not at all. But David’s only means of survival.

We cannot simply choose not to be afraid or anxious. It’s how humans work under stress. But we can choose to turn it over to God and let him deal – not only with the situation, but how we are handling it. And peace will come. “By this I will KNOW that God is for me.” (v9)

Are there any anxieties holding on to you? Offer them to the only one who can take them from you, then go and “walk before God in the light of life.”

Psalm 56:1-2 Psalm 56:3-13

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Beware the self-talk – Psalm 55

Battles are often won or lost in our own minds. Take slimming for example. Decide you can do it, set your face to it, and it happens. Tell yourself you’re too weak-willed, and you’ve lost already – the battle, not the weight! How much more important is it to speak encouragement to ourselves when we are fighting more serious battles. Like David, fighting for his life.

In Psalm 55, he expressed how his own thinking was betraying him, listening to the lies of the enemy and believing it, telling himself how frightened he was, how he just wanted to escape, feeling sorry for himself because he’d been betrayed by a friend…

David had good reason to be fearful, but accepting that negative state of mind would have got him killed. So he roused himself, and made a great decision. To trust God, and cast – literally hurl – his anxiety on him.

We may not be able to change our circumstances, but we can change how we tackle them. Choosing to shun our fears, since they are so unhelpful, focusing our minds on God’s many promises, and choosing to trust him, not our negative thinking. Quiet, determined confidence in God got David through.

I might not be fighting for my life today, but there are plenty of battles in all our lives. Battles that are won or lost by whether we choose to trust God or the fearful, negative self-talk.

Psalm 55:1-3 Psalm 55:3-15 Psalm 55:16-23

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Don’t give up – Psalm 54

When it feels like the ceiling is soaking up your prayers, and you don’t think God’s even listening anymore…

DON’T stop praying

DO start acting like it’s already happened.

That’s what faith is. And that’s the message of Psalm 54. It worked for David – he survived in spite of the odds, came to the throne, established Israel’s ‘Golden Age’ and lived to be a very old man. And if the Psalms are anything to go by, David had more problems and struggles than most of us will ever have to endure.

Trust God; once you ask him, it’s his job to sort it. He tells us to keep asking, because that way we spend more time with him, and get to know him better. Prayer is never wasted.

Psalm 54

Psalm 

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Ready? – Psalm 53

Christmas is well on its way. Are you ready? Christmas is not complete for me without watching at least one rendering of Bethlehemian Rhapsody. There are scores of versions on Youtube – check it out if you’re not already familiar. I love the cleverness and humour of swapping the words to fit a new context.

Compare Psalms 14 an 53 and you’ll see that’s exactly what happened here. There’s only a couple of sentences changed. The old song was adapted because a particular historical event took place, where God intervened, terrified the enemy, and they scarpered, without time to bury their dead. But the rest of the sentiment was the same. The foolish, morally corrupt thought they could get by without God.

Psalms 14 and 53

And there was still only one solution: that the people of God would demonstrate his love to a shamefully corrupt world – to be light in a very dark place.

Listen to the news, or hang around any town centre, and you know without doubt that the world we live in is horribly corrupt, with so many people who think they don’t need God. Don’t you just long for God to break through? Oh, that salvation for my land, for my world, would come!

It’s the job of the people of God to pray and pray, and seek God, and demonstrate his love to a world that needs him more than they’ll ever know. And it begins with you and me being restored – forgiven and determined to draw closer to God – that’s when he can use us to bring light and salvation  to our world. Are you ready to shine?

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In spite of all – Psalm 52

It’s not the prettiest of bible stories. David was on the run from King Saul. He went to Ahimelek, the priest at Nob, spun him a yarn about being on some secret mission for the king, and received bread and a sword from him. Unfortunately, Doeg, one of Saul’s officials happened to be there, witnessed the proceedings, and relayed them to Saul. Saul would not believe that Ahimelek had innocently supplied David, unaware that Saul considered him an enemy, and so ordered the deaths of all the priests. When the other soldiers were reluctant, Doeg stepped forward and killed them all, and then went on and slaughtered all the inhabitants of Nob for good, or rather, bad measure. (1 Samuel 21 and 22).

The ‘infectious smile’ poem has been doing the rounds on facebook – that if you smile, it affects others and makes them smile too. What marks David out in Psalm 52, is that his ‘smile’ was not dependent on others. He didn’t catch it, he chose it. Living under terrible threat, hearing of these appalling events, taking responsibility for a tiny exiled group fighting against all odds, he described himself as ‘an olive tree flourishing in the house of God’. In spite of the direst of circumstances, he trusted in God’s unfailing love. When he had no access to the precious ‘house of God’ he praised him ‘in the presence of your saints’.

We don’t have to wait for someone to smile at us. And we don’t have to be dictated to by our situation. Because God’s love is unfailing, we can practice the joy of the Lord anywhere, anytime – through gritted teeth if necessary. We just have to choose it.Psalm 52:1-7Psalm 52:7-9

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When you know you’ve blown it – Psalm 51

It seemed like a good idea at the time, felt good. Then the realisation…then the regret. Regret, by the way, is when you wish you hadn’t done something, because you don’t want to face the consequences. All that does is disturb your sleep, your peace, your lifestyle, maybe even your health.

Psalm 51 was written by David, when the prophet Nathan confronted him about his wrongdoing. It really hit. It was a very painful time for David, as he came face to face with the horrible reality of what he had done. And David didn’t just regret, be repented. With every ounce of his strength he begged God for forgiveness.  But he also knew the nature of God – and trusted that God could and would forgive him. And that was where the healing could begin.

Thank God that he is the God of second chances. Whatever we’ve done, honestly confessing, and wholeheartedly repenting, enables us to hand the problem over to God. Through Jesus, he forgives us. Through the Holy Spirit he gives us strength to face whatever consequences might ensue. And because he is God, he goes on loving us through it all. Thank you God!

Psalm 51:1-3Psalm 51:4-16Psalm 51:16-19

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