O LORD my God, in You I have taken refuge;
Save me from all those who pursue me,
And deliver me,
Or he will tear my soul like a lion.
Psalm 7: 1-2 (NASB)
Today’s wise saying is from David’s writings in the Book of Psalms. He’s the father of Solomon, who wrote the majority of Proverbs, where we’ve gotten most of our quotes for this blog so far. While Solomon’s Proverbs concentrate on wise sayings for everyday life, David’s Psalms point the soul to God and frequently reveal the inner turmoil of the battle between good and evil. This is good fodder for the marriage therapist, because not only is my own soul at war within, but the souls of my clients are struggling, too. Having a word picture to visualize the conflict can be helpful.
Since David was king, he had a lot of natural enemies, who were jealous of his position. His own son, Absalom, started a civil war against him, and his first and only boss, Israel’s first king, Saul, tried to kill him. So when David writes about being saved from his enemies by the mercy of God, he knew from which he spoke. But if you read these Psalms between the lines, or if you have the courage to read the lines themselves, you will discover that the biggest enemies of David were the battles raging in his own head. This is a little more relevant to me, as my biggest real life enemies haven’t ever tried to kill me, as far as I know. My first boss scolded me, when I came to work one day 15 minutes late, because I had a flat tire. I was glad I was only 15 minutes late. He told me I should leave early enough for work to account for all contingencies, which I thought was categorically unfair. Meanwhile, I stood there speechless, as he berated me. Later I had the perfect comeback, when I had several sleepless nights after that, where I berated him in my head and told him off for embarrassing me and for his being so unfair. I’ve had a few of those kinds of nights, but overall, it wasn’t over murder or one of my kids plotting to overthrow the country at my expense. A few of them wanted to take over the family for a minute or two, or they plotted to be king of their own lives when they were too young, and I’ve had a few sleepless nights over how I handled or didn’t handle those situations, but, overall, I’ve had few sleepless nights over others plotting my demise, and desiring to wipe my name off the face of the earth.
But the internal battle between good and evil I can identify with. David’s word picture above, of a lion tearing his soul apart, explains it perfectly. There’s really not much I could add to that. Mince meat pie comes to mind. I can see my internal enemies taking what little good there is in my heart and chopping it up and running it through a meat grinder and adding a bunch of lies and temptations and fears and hopes dashed and laying it on top of a crust of despair and depression and baking it in the oven of doubt and then eating it for dessert, not even the main meal, with these nasty grins on their faces. Yeah, I’ve had a few nights like that. It’s helpful for me to know that when David says “tear my soul like a lion” that I have met a kindred spirit and it’s nice to know that I’m not crazy and I’m not the only one and even nicer to know that there is a deliverer.
I could learn from David, if I only had a heart. He keeps taking these despairing situations that are beyond hope, and the enemies are winning and the battles are raging, and you wonder how will he ever come out of it, and then all of a sudden he’s writing about God’s deliverance, and how he’ll take refuge in God, and that God is the rock of his salvation, whom shall I fear, and that he will walk through the valley of the shadow of death and he will fear no evil. I’m scrambling to identify with that a little more because it’s easier to identify with the whole country trying to kill me, even though that’s never happened, than it is to identify with taking all of my problems to God and giving Him the victory. And I walk away from reading and pondering those thoughts a little more humble, a little more chastened, and longing for some of David’s kind of faith in a God who never let him down. Maybe that’s the whole point.