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Few, if any of us, can even imagine being in David’s shoes. His own son, Absalom, had secretly been working against him. He convinced many that David was uncaring and incompetent and that, if he were king, he would do a much better job than his father. When he had drawn even some of David’s most trusted advisors and military leaders to his side, Absalom attempted a military coup. The forces of Absalom were so strong that David had to flee for his life. As he fled, he prayed, O LORD, how my foes are multiplying! Many are rising up against me!
As he fled, he knew what some people were saying. He realized that he was partly to blame for what was happening, he had lost the respect of Absalom and others because of his sin with Bathsheba. People were saying that he was getting what he deserved, that there was no salvation for him, that God had abandon him because of his sin.
Although none of us knows what it’s like to have a whole army chasing us, there has probably been a time or two in our lives when it seemed like everyone was against us. Maybe there was a time in school when it seemed like everyone, even your closest friends, had turned against you, even if it was something as minor as giving a wrong answer and having everyone laugh at you, or making a basket, or a goal, for the other team.
Maybe you were the one who was wronged or deserted by a spouse, but it seemed like everyone blamed and turned against you.
Maybe you realized that the reason family or others turned against you was because of a sin you committed. Maybe you gave them reason to gloat over trouble you were experiencing thinking that you were getting what you deserved.
Even if you can’t think of a time when it seemed that everyone was against you, the fact is that there are foes multiplying against us all the time. As Christians, our number one enemy is Satan, and he has an army of demons that he would love to unleash on us. As we have experienced recently, our enemies in the world are multiplying against us as well. People in the media rarely have anything good to say about Christians. Politicians suggest that, although you might have the right to worship, you should do it in private and keep your weird, dangerous ideas to yourself. Expressing your faith, or some truths of Scripture on social media could get you suspended, or at least unfriended or ridiculed. As we experience trouble in our lives, often as a result of our own sinful actions, we might be tempted to think, “my enemies are right, there is no reason the Lord should deliver me. I deserve to have him forsake me, to let my enemies have their way, and then send me off to suffer forever in Hell.”
How did David respond to being chased by an army led by his rebellious son while being reminded of his sins? He turned to the Lord for help. He says, you, O LORD, are a shield for me. You are my glory and the one who lifts up my head. With a loud voice I cry out to the LORD, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down, and I sleep. I awake, because the LORD sustains me. I will not be afraid of the thousands of people who line up against me on all sides.
How could he say that! He was guilty of adultery and murder, the murder of one of his most faithful soldiers who had been with him from the beginning when Saul was chasing him and trying to kill him. How could he think that God would be his shield? How could he expect to have God answer his prayers? Because when he confessed his sin, Nathan, the prophet of God said, God has put away your sin. By the word of God’s prophet, he knew that God had forgiven his sin.
Do you realize that you are in the same place as David was? In most of our worship services we join each other in confessing that we are not only by nature sinful, but that we, like David, have sinned against God and our neighbor in our thoughts, words, and actions. We admit that we deserve nothing but punishment from God. All we can say is, God, be merciful to me, a sinner. And then, like David, we hear a spokesman of God tell us, God has put away your sin. Your sins are forgiven. They have been paid for in full by Jesus.
“O Lord, you are my shield. You extinguish the flaming arrows of the Enemy’s accusations against me. You are my glory, I have none of my own. You are the one who lifts up my head, who lifts me up from the shame I have brought on myself because of my sins. Because of what Jesus has done for me I can sleep peacefully because I know that no matter how many people oppose me, no matter how vehemently the Enemy Satan accuses me, you have already given me the glory of eternal life with you in heaven.” As we heard Paul say, if God is for us, who can be against us?
But the Enemy says, “how can you be so sure? How do you know that God is for you? Paul answers, If God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also graciously give us all things along with him? The proof that God is for us is that he sacrificed Jesus in our place.
Paul continues, who will bring an accusation against God’s elect? Oh, the enemy Satan will try. His name means accuser. God is the one who justifies! Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus, who died and, more than that, was raised to life, is the one who is at God’s right hand and who is also interceding for us!
Yes, even if thousands of people are pursuing us and Satan himself is accusing us, we can rest in peace because Jesus is interceding for us. He is pointing to what happened in the wilderness when Satan tempted him for 40 days. He defeated every one of Satan’s temptations, not only for himself, but as our substitute. He is pointing to the garden where his friends fell asleep, and when they saw him surrounded by a mob, deserted him and ran, yet he had prayed not my will, but thine be done, and submitted to the mob knowing that it would lead to the cross. He is pointing to the darkness that indicated that he had been forsaken by the father, not because of anything he had done, but because he accepted the punishment we deserve. He is pointing to his resurrection, his appearance in Hell where he proclaimed his victory over our Enemy Satan. Because of what Jesus has done for us and still is doing for us, we need not fear any enemy, not even Satan himself.
By defeating all of Satan’s temptations, by his death in our place and his resurrection from the dead, Jesus has struck all our enemies on the jaw. He has given them a knockout punch. He has broken the teeth of the wicked one, the roaring lion Satan who wants to devour us, but now is toothless. Yes, salvation belongs to the Lord. Jesus has won it for all. In grace God has brought us to faith and made us his own. Through faith all the blessings Jesus purchased for us have become ours. God’s blessing rests on his people.
Whether we always recognize it or not, you and I have some very powerful enemies surrounding us. When friends or family turn against you, either because you have sinned against them or because you are standing on the truth of God’s word; when the world turns against you and you are ridiculed or even canceled by the world because you have taken a stand on the truth of God’s word; when Satan holds your sins before your eyes and tells you that there is no hope for you, God is not going to deliver you; turn to this Psalm. Let the situation in which David found himself, and the faith the Holy Spirit gave him to express give you comfort, hope and peace. In fact, let’s read this Psalm together right now.
1O Lord, how my foes are multiplying!
Many are rising up against me!
2Many are saying about my life,
“There is no salvation for him in God.”
3But you, O Lord, are a shield for me.
You are my glory and the one who lifts up my head.
4With a loud voice I cry out to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.
5I lie down, and I sleep.
I awake, because the Lord sustains me.
6I will not be afraid of the thousands of people
who line up against me on all sides.
7Rise up, O Lord! Save me, my God!
Yes, you will strike all my enemies on the jaw.
The teeth of the wicked you will break.
8Salvation belongs to the Lord.
Your blessing rests on your people.
If God is for us – and Jesus proves he is- who can be against us.