Memo 1100: Internal Enemies
In Psalm 4, we read these words of David: In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety (Psalm 4:8, emphasis added) but just two psalms later, we read,
Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long? Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. Among the dead no one proclaims your name. Who praises you from the grave? I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes. Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer. All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish; they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame (Psalm 6, emphasis added).
Why on one occasion did David sleep like a baby but on another occasion cry like one? Why could he sleep through one night but be unable to sleep the next? Let's try to answer those questions as we continue our search for PowerPoints for Living that will help us live the abundant life. Let's get started.
NO REASON GIVEN
We're told in the heading that David wrote this psalm but we have no historical context. We don't know what he was facing or why he was so distraught. All we know is that he had enemies, they were evil, and he was fearful for his life—concerned that the Lord would withdraw His protective presence. My sense is that David wrote this psalm much earlier in his life than he wrote Psalm 4, but the editors who compiled the psalms decided to reverse the order. Whatever the order, the circumstances had David so on edge that he couldn't sleep, weeping the entire night.
If David wrote this early in his royal journey, then we can conclude that by the time Absalom pursued him many years later, David had learned to control his anxiety to such an extent that he could sleep while surrounded by his enemies as he reported in Psalm 4. In Psalm 6, he couldn't sleep just thinking about his enemies. He couldn't sleep in Psalm 6 not specifically because of his foes but because of his terror over them, and his sense that God was about to abandon him to the grave. David's problem was his internal response to an external situation.
THE BATTLE WITHIN
We tend to think of our enemies as those outside of us, our critics and opponent, or folks who don't think or look like us. Yet our greatest enemies are within—fear, doubt, anger, hatred, worry, anxiety. David could face a nine-foot giant and sleep while his enemies surrounded his tent, but his internal enemies kept him up at night. His progress from Psalm 6 to Psalm 4, from sleepless nights to sleeping soundly, shows us that we can learn to manage our internal foes to the extent that we can change the way we think.
Otherwise, what did Paul mean when he wrote, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5)? We must have the capability with the Spirit's help to change the way we think to produce peace and rest: "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things" (Philippians 4:8).
Therefore, this week's PowerPoint for Living is
You can learn to have victory over your inner foes if you spend the time and employ the Spirit's help to take your thoughts captive and replace them with life-giving ones.
How is the way inside you going these days? Are you resting in the promises of God? Are you battling and winning against anxiety, fear, and doubt? Are you involved in the hand-to-hand combat required to take every thought captive? David ended Psalm 6 with a declaration of his confidence that God was with him and would ultimately defeat his enemies. Do you have that same confidence? Are you willing to pay the price to get it? You didn't establish your thought habits overnight and they won't be changed quickly, but with steady effort and faith you can make the same journey that David made from Psalm 6 to 4 and enjoy rest, both at night and during your waking hours. Have a blessed week!