There is nothing like the overwhelming power of a lion in pursuit of its prey on the African savanna. Exhilarating. My family loved seeing animals in their natural African habitat. Now, we prefer not to go to a zoo. It’s just not the same.
O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me, lest like a lion they tear my soul apart, rending it in pieces, with none to deliver.” Psalm 7:1-2
I also prefer not to be powerless and exposed to a lion ready to tear my soul apart.
“Grief, like a lion, loves to play with us before it destroys us.” John Flavel, Facing Grief
So, how did I miss seeing the side of life that is like your soul is being torn apart by a lion? I lived decades not understanding it. I missed it even though the Bible addresses it squarely. Souls experience a rending into pieces in a fallen and broken world. And seemingly, there is no one to deliver.
“O Lord my God, if I have done this, if there is wrong in my hands…let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it…” Psalm 7:3-5
Self-analysis accompanies grief. It’s appropriate. If your first response is to look at others you need the teaching from Psalm 7. Even if your soul is being ripped apart you should look at yourself first, even if it feels like a lion attack. In essence, David is saying if I am guilty let the enemy pursue me. I deserve it.
Arise, O Lord, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake for me…return on high…let the evil of the wicked come to an end…” Psalm 7:6-7, 9
But if I am a victim of an enemy in a broken world, I need God to rise up for my good. Awake for me. But he’s not asleep. He never slumbers. I have never been more confident that he will return on high to bring evil to an end. We are reminded in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you…” Never doubt. Stay confident in your faith. Wickedness is short-lived.
“My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart. God is a righteous judge…” Psalm 7: 10-11
Confidence leads us to rest in our shield, our righteous judge. Before we get too confident, let’s remind ourselves that anyone who is “upright in heart” is so because of justification. We’ve been made to be right with God through Jesus. Nothing here to brag about.
“If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; he has…deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts. Behold, the wicked man…is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. He makes a pit…and falls into the hole that he has made. His mischief returns upon his own head….” Psalm 7:12-16
As confident as a justified man should be, the unrepentant man should not be confident. Two extremes. God protects the man made righteous. God removes protection and seeks after the one who is unrepentant. Sword, bow and arrow, deadly weapons, and fiery darts await those who are pregnant with mischief and lies. These enemies of God dig and fall into their own pits. This is a stunning warning. Let every one with ears hear this pronouncement.
Confidence in the shield in the context of such an overwhelming warning gives birth to gratitude. Recognizing salvation is a gift unveils the gratitude due his name and his righteousness.
Worship emerges from a heart that finds refuge for a soul torn apart.
“I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.” Psalm 7:17