Win with Christ
Why did David have so many enemies? When we read his psalms, it seems like he’s always fending off another attack from his adversaries, trying to escape yet another conspiracy. Do you ever wonder what made him so hated?
He was Israel’s king, which meant he was involved in regular warfare against the nation’s political enemies. The Philistines and the Amorites had good reason to hate David, seeing as he was Israel’s highly successful wartime leader. Hard to like someone who has wiped out your battalions, time after time!
But there was more to it. For David was on the side of God. And those who hate God will also hate those who stand with him.
This is why we have enemies too. We’ve all learned from our Catechism that a Christian has three sworn adversaries: the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh (Q&A 127). Far more than we realize or admit, we are in constant warfare against the spiritual forces of evil.
And for this confrontation we need so much divine help and steadfast protection.
That’s what David understood too, for he prays in Psalm 143 that God would judge all his enemies. They had been hounding him again, and David feels almost crushed. Speaking of his enemy, he says: “He has made me dwell in darkness like those who have long been dead” (v. 3).
So in this Psalm he appeals to God to put right the wrongs that he’s been suffering. Part of his prayer is the wish that the LORD would destroy his foes (v. 12):
In your mercy cut off my enemies, and destroy those who afflict my soul.
To us that seems a bold prayer, out of place. Are we even allowed to pray for God’s vengeance like this?
It seems bold only because we don’t appreciate enough how serious is the present conflict. If you really identify with God as his loyal servant, and if you stand resolutely on the side of Christ, then the world will hate you too.
Jesus warned us that there will always be unbelieving people who attack his disciples. There will always be those who try to discredit the church and to undermine the foundation of our faith in the Scriptures.
This can make us anxious and also perplexed about how to respond.
But Psalm 143 shows that we’re not to avenge ourselves when threatened. Rather, we should appeal our case to the heavenly Judge. We can leave all judgment to him. To attack God’s servants is to attack the LORD God, so you can also expect him to come to your defense. As David prays in verse 9,
Deliver me, O LORD, from my enemies.
While praying this petition in the present conflict, we know something else so richly comforting: Christ our King has already defeated the kingdom of darkness. He did it when he hung on the cross, when he died, and he came back to life three days later. Now Christ is in heaven, reigning over all things.
Jesus still has many enemies, like we do. But in your struggle, take heart. Your victory in Christ is secure!
[Adapted from Christ's Psalms, Our Psalms]