O Lord, My Fortress

Saved from my Enemies
Psalms 18:1-3 ESV

“I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.”

Who are our enemies? Certainly, Satan is our enemy, as are his demons, and the many hordes who follow him. But even professing Christians can be our enemies, too. Who were Jesus’ fiercest opponents? They were the rulers in the temple and the teachers of the law. Pastors can be our enemies.

So, what defines an enemy? An enemy is an adversary, and an adversary is an opponent, a rival, an antagonist. He (or she) is someone who is against us, who is opposed to who we are and what we stand for and what we believe and practice. He is one who will resist us strongly sometimes, too.

But not all enemies are aggressively against us. Some are passively against us. They may not resist us. They may just ignore, reject, and exclude us. They may not fight against us. They just want nothing to do with us. We are an embarrassment or an offense to them because of who we are.

Enemies are the opposite of friends, but even many people who claim to be our friends may turn out to be our enemies. They would be those who, on the surface, appear to like us, but behind the scenes, they are speaking out against us, and they may even be turning others against us, too.

But does Jesus Christ (God the Son) promise us that if we follow him we won’t have enemies? No! He promised us we would have enemies. He said we would be hated and persecuted like Jesus was hated and persecuted. And he said we would be falsely accused, imprisoned, and even killed for our faith in Jesus Christ.

So, when our enemies come against us, does the Lord always physically rescue us from our enemies? No! Sometimes he does, but sometimes he doesn’t. So, how does he save us from our enemies? He saves us by teaching us to trust him in all things, and to not give way to fear.

He saves us from our enemies by teaching us about his sovereignty over our lives, and by teaching us to love our enemies and to pray for them and to do good to them. He saves us, too, by teaching us to keep on obeying him, to keep pursuing righteousness and holiness, and to not run and hide.

And he saved us from our enemy Satan when he took our sins upon himself and he died on that cross to deliver us from our slavery to sin and to empower us to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him. And we are saved when we yield control of our lives over to him and we die with him to sin.

The Cords of Death
Psalms 18:4-6 ESV

“The cords of death encompassed me;
the torrents of destruction assailed me;
the cords of Sheol entangled me;
the snares of death confronted me.

“In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.”

Those of us who were abused as children by a parent, or parents, or by other family members who lived with us, understand “the cords of death encompassed me.” My father was the epitome of Satan. He was a big bully who felt he had to show he was stronger than everyone else.

So, he bullied, and he abused those who were weaker than him, including his wife and his children. I feared him greatly, for his anger was fierce. For there was no way out of facing his wrath if he decided to come against you. His hand and his mouth were quick to strike at any given moment.

But he isn’t the only abuser I have faced in my life. I have faced many, some of whom were pastors of churches who thought they knew me when they didn’t and who strongly opposed me although I was doing no wrong. They just didn’t get me and so they decided who they thought I was.

I have been yelled at, strongly accused falsely of things I did not do, banned from a church property (for telling the truth), put on church discipline (because I would not tell a lie), yelled at for standing strong on the truth because I would not join the majority, and invited to go someplace else where I would be a “better fit.” So, I know these torrents of destruction.

And I most certainly called upon the Lord in my distress. To my God I called for help with tears streaming down my cheeks and with cries coming from the anguish of my soul. For, I know what it is like to be hated, to be rejected, to be falsely accused, and to be mistreated for no wrongdoing.

Some of those situations he physically delivered me out of, praise his name! Some of them he did not. And he did not keep me from having similar treatment against me repeated over and over again. Paul certainly was mistreated over again, as were the prophets of old.

But I had to learn to trust the Lord’s sovereignty over my life through them. I had to learn that God formed me in the womb of my mother. He placed me in that family. He allowed me to be mistreated and to be falsely accused because that is the life of one who is dedicated to following Jesus Christ.

I had to learn to trust the Lord in these circumstances, to pray for wisdom in how to respond to mistreatment, and I had to learn to not run away in fear but to be strong in the Lord and to continue in what he has called me to do despite all opposition against me.

This is certainly not to say that I was or that I am perfect. But the rejections and the mistreatments I received were almost always unjust and were wrongs done against me when I was not doing what they accused me of doing. So, I was suffering for the sake of righteousness in most cases.

Psalms 18:16-19 ESV

“He sent from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of many waters.
He rescued me from my strong enemy
and from those who hated me,
for they were too mighty for me.
They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a broad place;
he rescued me, because he delighted in me.”

It took me many years to finally get to the place where I truly trusted the Lord’s sovereignty over my life, to where I accepted that he allowed me to go through the things he permitted me to go through for a good reason, which was to prepare me for the ministry he has for me today.

When I cried it all out to him, and he helped me to understand this, and I surrendered to his will for my life, no matter how painful, he drew me out of deep waters. It isn’t that he rescued me from having to endure unjust suffering. He didn’t! He rescued me from its damaging effects on my life. Does it still hurt when I get mistreated? Sure, it does. But it no longer takes me out. I don’t run and hide. I keep on in following my Lord.

And he will do the same for you. If you are being mistreated or you are being falsely accused of what you know you did not do, or if you are being fought against and opposed because of your walk of faith with Jesus Christ and for your stand on the truth, the Lord is your support!

He may not physically deliver you from your enemies, but he will deliver you from the impact of their treatment against you, and he will help you to love your enemies and to keep on in following the Lord despite all opposition. And he will give you the strength you need to endure and to keep the faith.

Only Hope

By Jonathan Foreman

I give you my destiny
I’m giving you all of me
I want your symphony
Singing in all that I am
At the top of my lungs
I’m giving it my all

So, I lay my head back down
And I lift my hands and pray
To be only yours I pray
To be only yours I pray
To be only yours
I know now you’re my only hope

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