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Friday, May 31, 2013

God's Shield Against Discouragement



Sometimes we suffer discouragement because of difficult circumstances caused by no one in particular: natural disasters, disease, economic downturns, injury. Frequently, however, we suffer because enemies cause us harm and refuse to stop. That was David's lament in Psalm 5. He knew discouragement can easily escalate into resentment, bitterness, hatred, and finally retaliation. He feared becoming like his oppressors. So, David reflected on the Lord's character and asked Him for the ability to do things His way. David then considers the character and actions of his enemies (Psalm 5:9-10).
There is nothing reliable in what they say;
Their inward part is destruction itself.
Their throat is an open grave;
They flatter with their tongue.
Hold them guilty, O God;
By their own devices let them fall!
In the multitude of their transgressions thrust them out,
For they are rebellious against You.
In his mind, David deliberately hands his enemies over to God, who has the sole authority to dispense justice or mercy. He also asks God to allow them to "fall by their own devices." When dealing with those who oppose righteousness, it's helpful to remember that they are fighting against the Lord, not you. Consequently, you can be sure He will not allow evil deeds to continue forever. He will limit sin and hold the sinners accountable. If left alone in their own counsel, they will fall by themselves!

Paul the apostle says it straight in Romans 12:17-19.
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.
The daily grind of discouragement is lessened when we trust that the Lord will fight our battles for us.

Finally, having celebrated the righteous character of God, having requested the ability to remain on God's side of the issue, and having considered the ultimate fate of evildoers, David imagined the future joy of the righteous (Psalm 5:11).
But let all who take refuge in You be glad,
Let them ever sing for joy;
And may You shelter them,
That those who love Your name may exult in You.
The key thought through this verse is joy. How are you doing regarding your countenance---is it joyful? Do you really live above the pressures? Is there an evidence of peace written across your face? If you fight your own battles without the Lord, you'll become bitter, severe, cranky, and ultimately your face will bear the marks of the battle.

Have you ever taken note of Cain's response to God's refusal of his offering? A most significant statement appears in Genesis 4:5: "So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell." Another way of translating the Hebrew text adds a bit more color: "And Cain burned with anger exceedingly and his face fell." When anger and resentment are harbored, our faces show it. Our jaw tightens with clenched teeth. Our eyes narrow. It is impossible to hide inner discouragement! "Fallen" faces reveal discouraged hearts. David wanted God to take his inner burden and replace it with inner joy.

Finally, the composer mentions a promise we frequently forget:
For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD,
You surround him with favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5:12)
David closes his song with his eyes turned toward the Lord and away from the sources of his discouragement. Having given God his "morning burden," David's discouragement fled. The shield he mentions at the end of his song here in verse 12 was the largest of warriors' shields, covering the entire body. So what is the promise? God will bless the one who looks to Him for protection. How? He will do this by giving him favor and by providing him with His large, protective (yet invisible) shield. Up with the shield . . . out with discouragement!

~Charles Swindoll~

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