"Up, God! My God, help me! Slap their faces,
First this cheek, then the other,
Your fist hard in their teeth!Real help comes from God. Your blessing clothes your people!"
Deliverance, shield, shelter, safety, bloodshed, night-watch, sighing, death and Sheol. The Psalms were written for the trenches. Warfare; not peacetime. Physical, mental and spiritual warfare.
We have little control over life. We are afflicted; in need of deliverance from a sickness or situation too strong for us. We are needy; people and life rob us of what little we have. Seasons stretch personal limits to breaking. Trials show up announced. The body reacts; stress breaks down. Stir sick and elderly parents into the mix; some stress into the mix, churn in some daughter drama and a little financial pressure and hope diminishes. At home. Abroad. Big world.
The Psalms give words to our frustration. Here are five ways the Psalms give strength for the battles we fight:
Positive purpose: “For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined…We went through fire and through water, Yet You brought us into a place of abundance.”
Character development: “Blessed be the Lord, my rock, Who trains my hands for war, And my fingers for battle…” “Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity…and speaks truth in his heart. He does not slander…He swears to his own hurt…He does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.”
Mental Attitude (positive prayer/self-talk): “Why are you in despair, O my soul? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence…I will bless the Lord who has counselled me; Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night. I have set the Lord continually before me…”
Coming conqueror: “I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. He won’t let you stumble, your Guardian God won’t fall asleep. Not on your life! Israel’s Guardian will never doze or sleep….Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”
Transcendent hope: “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;surely I have a delightful inheritance….You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
Let us persevere with the picture that opens the book of Psalms. That of a strong tree secure through the winds of life; “ He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.”