Bread – Concrete

January 18, 2016


Psalm 3

A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.

“O Lord, how many are my foes!  Many are rising up against me…”  Ps. 3:1

There is a tendency among all of us to intellectualize God and His role in our lives.  We thinks of enemies in the abstract.  We think of difficulties in general.  Except when we are sick, maybe, we tend not to put a specific point on our ideas about help from God.  We talk about mountains and valleys, but we rarely talk about the mountain or the valley.

That is why I call this Bread “concrete.”  This Psalm is not about David’s enemies in general as an idea but about Absalom, David’s son, who led a revolt against David and caused him to run away for his life.  In case you doubt the concreteness of this event, read 2 Samuel, chapters 15 and 16, for a blow by blow.

This Psalm is about a concrete event resulting in David’s fearing for his life, his safety, and his future.

We have been attacked.  Perhaps by a neighbor, a friend, a co-worker, a boss, an employee, a customer, our spouse, our children, and someone else.  It doesn’t matter.  It’s Monday and the sharp knives are out.  You are doing the best you can and are now in full retreat, running for your life as fast as you can.  What did you do to cause it?  Maybe a word.  Maybe an action.  Maybe something building up over a long period of time.  Maybe nothing.  Doesn’t matter … you are being attacked, you are in full retreat, you are feeling overwhelmed and you might in fact be overwhelmed (feelings sometimes do reflect reality).

What do we do?  Perhaps we retreat and cower in fear of what will happen next?  Perhaps we behave like the peacock or gorilla, making ourselves seen or heard for long distances, making ourselves seem bigger, bolder, stronger, and braver than we really are.  Perhaps we plot the counter-attack.  Perhaps we start making calls to find ourselves some allies, some fellow soldiers, so that we can build an army and take back what is ours.  Perhaps we respond in anger and counter-attack immediately, setting fire to the relationships and the situation by our tongue and by our arm.

This is the set-up.  This is the concrete deal.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  All we can see is our foes, our enemies.  All we can see is what we have lost.  All we can see is how much ground we have to get back to put us even or to get even or both.

David was driven out of his home by his own son.  His own son was trying to kill him.  His own son had spread gossip around so that people who David thought were his friends were not, but were hostile to him.  All this came upon David so fast that he ran for the Mount of Olives, the desert, without his shoes (2 Sam. 15:30).

And so in such concrete circumstances, we like David lament, “how many are my foes.”  The cataclysm in our lives is so big that all we can do is shake our head at our situation, convinced in our heart that hope is gone.

And then we, in this Psalm, run into the “Selah.”  No one knows what this means, exactly, but I have noticed that, where it appears in the Psalms, it is like an exclamation point, saying stop … look … and listen.  Sort of God’s ways of saying, in the Psalms, “Pay attention!” or “Stop and watch and listen.”

And so in our reading today, in the concrete moment of disaster, when the only thing occupying our minds is the depth, breadth, number, and power of our foes … God (and the Psalmist) say “Selah!”

How often in the midst of our daily grind do we feel under attack?  How many times are we actually under attack?  In all these circumstances, we can be like David and lament our situation, whine about the strength of our enemies, and be miserable.  But as Christ’s own, once we are done there is a moment when God says to us “Selah!”  And with that we know the next chapter has begun.

Selah!

——————

© 2016 GBF    All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

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