Blessing Those Who Curse

26 Help me, Lord my God;  save me according to your unfailing love.
27 Let them know that it is your hand, that you, Lord, have done it.
28 While they curse, may you bless; may those who attack me be put to shame,
but may your servant rejoice.
29 May my accusers be clothed with disgrace and wrapped in shame as in a cloak.  Psalm 199:26-29

The idea of blessing those who curse and persecute is uniquely Judeo-Christian. It’s the exact opposite of what most people would do. And it’s the exact opposite of what most Christians would do. It’s a fairly natural response to venom and hatred.

Is there someone in your life that is giving you an especially difficult time? (I’m not referring to those who are in abusive situations.) Perhaps it’s time to bless that person again.

That was a difficult sentence to write because it wasn’t natural. Blessing our enemies just isn’t natural.

Blessing our enemies does at least two things: 1) softens our heart towards them, and 2) softens their heart toward the Gospel.

And if you aren’t able to bring yourself to bless your enemies, put it all into God’s hands. He knows your heart.

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Christ Our Comfort

21 But you, Sovereign Lord, help me for your name’s sake; out of the goodness of your love, deliver me.
22 For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.
23 I fade away like an evening shadow; I am shaken off like a locust.
24 My knees give way from fasting; my body is thin and gaunt.
25 I am an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they shake their heads. Psalm 199:21-25

David ended this psalm with words of exhortation and encouragement. He knew where his help and sufficiency lay, He also knew that God was – and still is – sovereign in the world.

A week ago I was sitting on a beach watching the waves move in and out.
No cares.
No worries.
Nothing to boast about.
Compared to the massive volume of water in one ocean, we are very very small. And this a work of God’s creation! Think about that for a second.

It’s comforting to know that we can rely on Christ for our comfort, our encouragement, and our strength. If we were so inclined, there is a lot in this world we could worry and fret over.

But we don’t need to.

At all.

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The Sovereign Lord

16 For he never thought of doing a kindness, but hounded to death the poor and the needy and the brokenhearted.
17 He loved to pronounce a curse—may it come back on him.
He found no pleasure in blessing—may it be far from him.
18 He wore cursing as his garment; it entered into his body like water, into his bones like oil.
19 May it be like a cloak wrapped about him, like a belt tied forever around him.
20 May this be the Lord’s payment to my accusers, to those who speak evil of me. Psalm 109:16-20

David continued denouncing his enemy but he seemed to have switched gears. He laid out a case for his enemy that included specific actions he had done.

The desired end result, though, was the same as yesterday’s devotion: payback for wrongs committed.

Would I love to see evil eradicated once and for all? Absolutely. God avenges evil in His own way and on His own schedule.

We can take issue with that statement all we want, but the point remains: God is sovereign over the affairs of men, women, and children around the world.

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Free From the Bitterness

6 Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy; let an accuser stand at his right hand.
7 When he is tried, let him be found guilty, and may his prayers condemn him.
8 May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership.
9 May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.
10 May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes.
11 May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.
12 May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children.
13 May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation.
14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord; may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.
15 May their sins always remain before the Lord, that he may blot out their name from the earth. Psalm 109:6-15

Even though David gets descriptive about punishment he thinks God should hand out to his enemies, what grabbed my attention was the first sentence in this passage: Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy. He is actually imploring God to use an evil person to accomplish a task.

Think about the implications about that kind of request.

Yes, God can and does use evil people to accomplish His purposes. You just never think of it as a opening statement for prayer.

What follows in the rest of the prayer was equally bold. If you read down through David’s wishlist of punishments, you’ll see that David was selfish about his request but he was real.

We’ve all had enemies that we’d love to see covered with fire and brimstone. It’s perfectly fine and probably therapeutic to voice those threats or concerns to God. Of course we ask God to get rid of the bitterness and hurt that the enemy has caused.

It’s the only way to be free.

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He Was A Man of Prayer

4 In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer.
5 They repay me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship. Psalm 109:4-5

Perhaps you know men and women of prayer. Even though they would never admit it, everything about their lives tell you that prayer and closeness to God is who they are. Perhaps you are one of these people.

Sure, we pray every day, but are not considered a man or woman of prayer. What’s preventing us from holding that title?

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Rumors, Inuendo, and Lies

2 for people who are wicked and deceitful have opened their mouths against me; they have spoken against me with lying tongues.
3 with words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause. Psalm 109:2-3

Men and women in political leadership get criticized quite a bit. Usually it’s because they make decisions that favor very small groups of people while ignoring the vast majority. Often the criticism is warranted.

David brought on discredit and shame to his family by his actions. The truth probably came out about David’s sins and those of his family. Perhaps people embellished those deeds to the point where the original deed was not recognizable. Then came the outright lies and slander. David acknowledged the sin but the consequences for that sin lived on in the hearts and minds of his enemies and his constituents.

On the other hand, if you’re engaged in activities that will return eternal rewards, you will be attacked, mocked, slandered, lied about, and accused. I know, it’s not really encouraging, is it? But that’s precisely what the enemy wants you to think.

God is doing a great thing from you. Try to ignore the slander and lies about you. If you can find out why they’re being spread, do it. If not, pray for those you know are spreading the falsehoods and move on.

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The Take Charge Guy

1 My God, whom I praise, do not remain silent, Psalm 109:1

In every critical situation we are in, we always look to one person to help us. It’s usually the “take charge” guy (or gal). This is the person who always seems to know what to do.

In our lives, we certainly want God to handle situations that are completely out of our control. God obviously knows what to do in every situation imaginable. That’s why David wanted to stand behind him and shout, “You go, God. Don’t be bashful about these enemies of mine!” Even though David was probably a strong leader, he knew where his ultimate strength lay.

What are you struggling with today that is totally out of your control? You’ve cried out to God but nothing’s happening.

I would encourage you to keep pleading, keep asking, keep God at the forefront of your prayers. Don’t be discouraged by the non-answers to prayer. Be encouraged that that the sovereign God of the universe knows what He’s doing in all situations big and small.

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Strength and Encouragement

10 Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom?
11 Is it not you, God, you who have rejected us and no longer go out with our armies?
12 Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless.
13 With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies. Psalm 108:10-13

Verse twelve of this passage is interesting. The writer is asking for strength and encouragement without using those terms. Now, in verse 13 the psalmist also realizes that God could and does crush Israel’s enemies when He needs to (but usually not before disciplining Israel first because of their bad actions).

The psalmist is 100% correct: human help is worthless when going up against a sizeable enemy. Human help is also worthless when going up against spiritual enemies.

Make no mistake, Christians are engaged in spiritual battles every day whether we know it or like it or not. The enemy will do what it can to prevent, slow down, or frustrate progress with God.

That’s why a daily – or hourly – cry to God for help is critical. Let’s face it, on our own strength we cannot conquer anything. With His help, encouragement, and strength, we can do all things in Christ.

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That Special Relationship

7 God has spoken from his sanctuary:
“In triumph I will parcel out Shechem
and measure off the Valley of Sukkoth.
8 Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine;
Ephraim is my helmet,
Judah is my scepter.
9 Moab is my washbasin,
on Edom I toss my sandal;
over Philistia I shout in triumph.” Psalm 108:7-9

God’s response to the psalmist’s earlier plea was to lay out His “battle plan” for Israel. As God’s chosen people, Israel would always find favor in His eyes. Any cursory reading of the Bible reveals that truth because there is just so much in the Bible about that relationship. It’s clear He had a continues to have a special relationship with the nation of Israel.

Many debate about the extent of that relationship but it’s also clear that the tiny nation of Israel has been protected these past 70 years. Some will rightly argue that He’s protected Israel for 2000 years.

As Iran heats up its rhetoric about wanting to destroy Israel and as The Islamic State is just as vocal about the destruction of Israel, we need to pray that hedge of protection for that country.

We should also pray for the the church in Iran. It is thriving despite the oppression and persecution many are undergoing. So, while governments may be violently opposed to each another, we stand alongside our Brothers and Sisters in Christ in prayer. They are certainly not our enemies despite what the governments of each may tell us.

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