For Dogs Encompass Me

Psalms 22:11,16-22 ESV

“Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.”

“For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.

“But you, O Lord, do not be far off!
O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”

Faithful in Service

When you are faithful in service to the Lord, and you are walking in his ways, and you are obeying his commands, and you are doing and saying the things he wants you to do and to say, within his perfect will, you will be opposed by other people, even by others who proclaim faith in Jesus Christ. You will be scorned, despised, and mocked by others who do not understand you and who do not get (comprehend) why you do what you do.

Not everyone will be against you, mind you, but in America the vast majority are not going to be supportive and encouraging to you in your service to the Lord and in the spreading of the truth of the gospel, especially if you are exposing the fruitless deeds of darkness for what they are and if you are calling people to repentance and to obedient faith in Jesus Christ. For not many people want to hear about sin and repentance and obedience to God.

And so you are probably calling on the Lord to help you, to give you strength, endurance, and courage to keep pressing on. You are most likely asking for his counsel and direction and wisdom to know what to say and when to say it and how to say it because you know the opposition that is out there, and you know how they will twist your words if you are not careful in what you say and in how you say it. You know the trouble that awaits you.

But it isn’t just that you are being called to suffer for the sake of righteousness. It isn’t just that you are mocked, rejected, despised, and scorned because of your stand for righteousness and holiness, and for the truth of the Scriptures and of the gospel, but it is that you are mostly alone in this battle against the enemy who wants to take you out. You don’t have much in the way of encouragement and support from others.

The Dogs Encircle

Who are the dogs? They are the ungodly, the immoral, liars and deceivers. They are false teachers, charlatans, and wolves in sheep’s clothing who are out to deceive the masses. They are definitely against you because you are against their lies and their false gospels and their manipulative tactics that they use to charm people into believing their lies and into following after them while they reject the truth. And because you are exposing their lies.

And here is where we have a prophecy which was fulfilled in Jesus’ death on the cross. Evildoers came against Jesus, and they fought against him, but when they were not able to overcome him, they plotted his death, and then they carried out his death on a cross. They pierced his hands and his feet, and they did divide his garments among them, and for his clothing they did, indeed, cast lots. This is what he went through for telling people the truth.

And Jesus Christ said that if we follow him with our lives, and we become his disciples, that we will be treated in the same way in which he was treated and for the same reasons. He told us that just as they hated and persecuted him they will also hate and persecute us. So, it should not surprise us at all when people come against us and reject us and turn away from us because we are teaching the same truths that Jesus taught.

It doesn’t make it less painful, though. Jesus suffered much, and he felt the pain, too. And we are going to feel the pain of unjust suffering, as well, and of being hated, rejected, mocked, ignored and/or fought against. And some of us will be martyred for our walks of faith in Jesus Christ and for our testimonies for him because we are speaking the words of Jesus which are what sent him to the cross to die for our sins.

But, God had a plan and a purpose for Jesus’ death on that cross, and it was for the salvation of human lives. And when we speak the same truths that he spoke, it should also be for the saving of human lives. And even our deaths could be for the saving of human lives for it might make others more aware of the truth of the gospel and that we died because we were spreading the truth of the gospel that many did not want to hear.

Calling on God

Now, in our suffering, we are going to call on God for help, and we may ask that we would be delivered from evil men (and women) and from their attacks against us and even from evil plots that may be against our lives. And especially if we feel as though no one is on our side or that there is no one to help, perhaps because the danger that is lurking is hidden from sight, our prayers may have a strong sense of urgency with them.

But please know here that, although the Lord does rescue us at times, he doesn’t always. Now, he will deliver us from fear, and he will increase our faith, if we cooperate with him, and he will give us comfort and peace, even in the midst of the storms raging about us. And he will grant us wisdom to know how to respond to our circumstances, but he doesn’t always physically deliver us from them. He delivers us through them.

But let me also say here that our God is absolutely sovereign and in control over all that he has made and not anything can touch us who are his unless God allows it. So, if it is not our time to die, God will spare our lives. Or if it is not our time to go through any particular kind of suffering, he will keep us from it and he will protect us from the evil ones who are plotting our demise. But when it suits his purposes he will allow us to go through tough stuff.

But in all of this, no matter what troubles we go through in this life, we are to remain steadfast in our faith and in following the Lord in obedience, and we are to keep on speaking the truth of his word even if all reject us and persecute us. We have to keep telling people the truth because so many are believing the lies which are sending them straight to hell on the promise of heaven when they die. Basically, we need to be like Jesus in all things.

[Matt 5:10-16; Matt 10:16-25; Matt 24:9-14; Matt 28:18-20; Lu 6:22-23; Lu 21:12-19; John 15:1-21; Acts 1:8; Acts 26:18; Rom 5:3-5; Rom 12:1-8; 1 Co 12:1-31; 2 Co 1:3-11; Eph 4:1-16; Eph 5:17-27; Phil 3:7-11; Col 3:16; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; Heb 3:13; Heb 12:3-12; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 2:9; 1 Pet 4:12-17]

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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