Enemies and the Psalms

A group of women at my church are reading through Hind’s Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. The main character is Much-Afriad and she is journeying to the High Places of her Lord. While on this journey she is being pursued and harried by her cousins Pride, Resentment, Craven Fear, and Self-Pity.

At one point she was cornered by all 4 and finally called out to The Shepherd to save her. A few pages later she recited Psalm 27:6 and thought about how rough it must be to be an enemy of the Lord. All of this coming so close together made we look at the Psalms differently than I ever have. I’ve always struggled with the part of the Psalms that talk about enemies and false witnesses. Probably because I’ve lived a fairly safe and maybe even cowardly life, I don’t have many enemies to talk of. But Much-Afraid is grappling with her own voices of Pride and Self-Pity so I suddenly realized those were enemies I can relate to. Now when I read those lines in the Psalms I can apply them to my life.

It was also interesting that the Psalm she quoted was Psalm 27. A few months ago at our church Wednesday night lesson on feasts and festivals, it was mentioned that the people would recite Psalm 27 for one of the feasts so I decided to memorize it. It is a demonstration of my lack of focus that over 2 months later I am still not done memorizing the 14 verses in that Psalm. But each verse has been important to me and it is changing how I pray.

Psalm 27:1 begins

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

That includes those voices trying to steal my Truth. That leads right into verse Psalm 27:2

When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall.

It does feel like I’m under attack sometimes when my fear and pride and resentment get going. Especially when helped along by some hormonal storming.

The latest verse I’m memorizing is Psalm 27:12 and when I was struggling with fears about an issue at work this is what calmed me down and reminded me I am protected.

Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;

for false witnesses have risen against me,

and they breathe out violence.

That is what it felt like as my anger and frustration and fear kept trying to make me feel terrible and alone and weak. Those are false witnesses. That is NOT who I am. What is my only hope in life and death? That I am not my own, but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God, and to my Savior Jesus Christ. (Question 1 of the New City Catechism)

Verses Ps 27:4-5 have brought me back to calm peace and trust.

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after;

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,

to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble;

he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;

he will life me high upon a rock.

Then Ps 27:6 is the one Much-Afraid quoted in the book I mentioned above.

And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;

and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;

I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

He is faithful! He hides me in his shelter. I have prayed the words of Psalm 27 many times in the past 2 months. Much-Afraid tries hard to ignore the voices of her enemies. She stuffs cotton in her ears at one point. But then she finds that singing songs of praise works even better at drowning out their voices. That is what Psalm 27 has become for me – I will sing and make melody to the Lord!

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