By Andy Constable
Four weeks ago, at 11pm on a Friday night, our door bell rang. My wife and I were asleep and we ignored it because we thought it was kids messing about. But it rang again and so I got up and opened the door to find our neighbour at there. She apologised for waking us up but thought we would like to know that our car windows had been smashed. I peered out at our car and saw the glass all over the floor! All four windows had been smashed. I looked up and down the street to see if anyone else had been affected but no other cars had been touched! Working in housing schemes can be tough. We face vandalism, threats and people laughing at us for our faith. But how are we to react? What should we do when people are against us?
Well, I believe that Psalm 59 gives us some answers. King David is in a far worse predicament. Saul, the king of Israel, has sent men to kill him and they are waiting outside his house! What does he do? He could go out and kill them or hide in his house and hope they don’t find him, or run (which he eventually does). We read that the first thing he does is pray. This psalm gives us 5 steps that should direct our prayers when we are facing hardship.
The very first thing that David prays is to be delivered. Verse 1: “Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; protect me from those who rise up against me…” When we are facing opposition the first thing we want to do is sort out things ourselves. We want to get our family to safety or confront those who are attacking us or do our own thing. But David prays before he does anything else and asks to be delivered from his troubles! The first thing my wife and I did, when we found out our windows had been broken, is to pray. This is not because we are super spiritual but because we had nowhere else to turn! We need to commit things into God’s hand when enemies are against us. We need to ask for God’s help. He is our deliverer from troubles and the one we must turn to.
The second thing that David does is pray through the problem. In verse 3 he writes: “For behold, they lie in wait for my life; fierce men stir up strife against me. For no transgression or sin of mine, O Lord…” David articulates to God what the problem is. We know that God knows exactly what’s going on because he is omniscient. But it’s important to communicate with God what’s going on for our own soul. The worst thing we can do when we are going through difficult problems is to keep it to ourselves. We need to share with God what is happening. David has men after him even though he has committed no sin and so he speaks to God. Tell God what your difficulty is. Share with him what is going on in your life. Be specific.
Thirdly, David reminds himself of who God is. He writes in verse 8: “But you, O LORD, laugh at them; you hold all the nations in derision. O my strength, I will watch for you, for you, O GOD, are me fortress. My God in his steadfast love will meet me…” It’s so easy when the world is against us to forget who our God is. When the weight of the world is on our shoulders, we often look inwards and diminish the size of God. But when we are being attacked we need to look outwards to God and remind our souls of His attributes. He is our strength, He watches over us, He is our fortress, and He is a God of steadfast love. These truths help us trust in Him and brings peace to our souls in the midst of distress.
Fourthly, David prays that his enemies would be consumed. He writes in verse 12b-13: “For the cursing and the lies that they utter, consume them in wrath; consume them till they are no more, that they may know that God rules over Jacob to the ends of the earth.” Now this doesn’t sound very Christian does it? Aren’t we supposed to turn the other cheek and forgive people who sin against us? This is a ‘both and‘ answer. Yes, we are to pray for our enemies, but I think that it’s biblical and right to pray that God would judge people according to His will. David is not going out to murder his enemies but is leaving judgment in God’s hands. And the reason he wants judgment is so that they would know that God rules. When we are attacked by people we can pray that people would know God’s judgment so that they would know who really rules the joint. This is not a bitter prayer but a righteous prayer with the right heart attitude.
Finally, David worships God. In the final verse David writes: “O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.” David ends his prayer by singing praises to God. In verse 8 he is reminding himself of who God is but by verse 17 he is praising and singing to the Lord his God. This is surely the ultimate purpose of any kind of suffering that we face: worship. We go through difficult times to appreciate who God is all the more. When we suffer our hearts are challenged, changed, and transformed from the reliance of our worldly idols and back toward the one, true God. David doesn’t end with bitterness. His heart is right and he is singing to Him! This should be the same for us all.
If you are working in a housing scheme then difficult times are ahead. You will be reviled, laughed at and even physically threatened and/or even assaulted. But, remember this Psalm, remind yourself of who God is and pray that your enemies would know God’s righteous judgment and turn to worship Him all the more! Let me end with these words from James 1:2-4: “Count it ALL joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”