By Julie McDonald
Today's Scripture: Psalm 59
Central Thought: In all situations, the glory of God is His highest purpose.
If we have not experienced it for ourselves, most of us at least know someone who has been on the receiving end of great wrong or injustice. It could have been verbal or physical abuse, financial deceit, direct sabotage of a project or relationship, or even false accusations with painful results. Sometimes the enemy camp is in the workplace, sometimes in the home. Whatever the source of the evil, it is always ugly. David depicts a vivid image of his enemies as snarling dogs who prowl the city at night in search of victims, arrogantly believing that no one can stop them and no one will hold them accountable for what they do.
As in many of the Psalms, the Psalmist demonstrates confidence and complete reliance on God for His salvation from enemy hands. We see even in the mist of persecution, when resolution or deliverance is nowhere in sight, our faith compels us to sing of His strength and His love. Something else we see is David's characteristic desire that God would be glorified in this conflict. As in many of the Psalms, we are taught that our desire for our attacker's punishment should have a higher purpose.
In verse 11 the Psalmist writes, 'But do not kill them, O Lord our shield, or my people will forget. In your might, make them wander about, and bring them down” (NIV). He continues in verse 13: 'Consume them in wrath, consume them till they are no more. Then it will be known to the ends of the earth that God rules over Jacob” (NIV). (The word consume in Greek does not mean to kill, but to bring a process to completion, to end, finish, destroy; divine destruction.) Bringing his enemies down from their high mountain, rather than simply removing them altogether, would be a more long-lived and effective demonstration of God's protection and intervention. Both the enemy and all those who had looked on would be reminded of God's greatness every time they considered the humbled position of those who unjustly conspired against a child of God. In Psalm 83:16, Asaph enjoins the same teaching: 'Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek Your name, O Lord” (ESV)—not just because I want to see them beat up and humiliated; not because I hate them with a passion; but pour out your vengeance and deal with their sin so they might come to You, O Lord!
These verses should leave us with the realization that, for the Christian, our desire for the punishment of our enemies should be more than just to massage our need for vindication. Our highest purpose should be in fulfilling God's highest purpose: In whatever situation we face, there is an opportunity to demonstrate His glory.
Devotional Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for being my fortress, for delivering me from the attacks of my enemy. Restore all that the enemy has taken from me and punish them for their evil. But in your mercy, Lord, work in such a way that they would see Your hand on my life so that Your correction would draw them into a right relationship with You.
Today's Bible Reading: Numbers 24:1-25:18; Luke 2:1-35; Psalm 59:1-17; Proverbs 11:14