A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.
LORD, how many are my foes?
How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me, God will not deliver him.
But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory,
the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the LORD, and he answers me from his holy mountain.
I lie down and sleep, I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.
Arise, LORD! Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw, break the teeth of the wicked.
From the LORD comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people.
Hey, friends, have you felt abandoned by someone you love? Do you have a wayward child? Have you felt so alone it's as if God has abandoned you, too?
This psalm is for you. This psalm is for me.
In the second book of Samuel (which, BTW, are books of the history of God's people), we learn that king David has been betrayed by his son, Absalom. This was not just the refusal to clean his room or to stop dating a girl the family didn't like.
This was a grown man set on destroying his father. Absalom was turning David's advisers against him, preparing to forcefully take his father's thrown, and murder him. The ultimate betrayal.
The ultimate heart break.
Stop for a moment and read 2 Samuel 15 to catch a glimpse of David's heartache.
Now king David is remembered as a man after God's own heart. Right? God loved David and blessed him greatly. But man, oh man, David was not perfect.
When I meet David in heaven I might ask him: dude, what was it like to have all of your dirty laundry written down? All your heartache and stupid decisions read by generations of people?
We will talk more of this in future psalms, but what we must discuss now is that David had a number of wives. There's a reason why God's plan for marriage was laid out in the VERY beginning of the Bible (like the VERY first chapter of Genesis). Polygamy is not of God, and it does not make God happy, even for the kings of old, even for the beloved king David. You can see this clearly in David's life. History records that David had 19 sons. A recipe for disaster. Right?
However, if you read Samuel and you read the accounts of this story, David loved Absalom. Absalom broke his heart.
Have your children broken your heart? Read David's words again.
I lie down and sleep,
I wake again because the LORD sustains me. (v5)
Do you fear at night? I do. Does the weight of the world come crashing down upon you? Do trivial things seem to grow fangs and claws in the dark?
How many of us struggle sleeping and worrying, tossing and turning? Over what we said or didn't say? Over the future for our children, their health, their choices...their salvation? Over what we did or didn't finish in the day?
This is not the ONLY psalm that David talks about the Lord sustaining him while he sleeps. David believed it, and he had things to worry about.
Tonight, when you wake for that crying baby or whatever else gets you up, remember verse 5: I lie down and sleep, I wake again because the LORD sustains me.
But you, LORD, are a shield around me,
My glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the LORD and he answers me from his holy mountain. (V3-4)
In a land and time when shields and swords were the difference between life and death, these verses take on another meaning.
During one of the most difficult times in David's life, he says the LORD is a shield around me; He sustains me as I sleep; He is the reason I can lift my head again.
A shield does no good lying on the ground. Therefore, David meant he held the shield of the Lord up.
How do we do that? How do we protect ourselves from the attacks of the evil one in our great time of pain? In the times of worry and stress and sleepless nights?
Friends, we hold on to that shield as tight as we can, as if our lives depended upon it.
In Ephesians 6, Paul tells us to put on the armor of God:
In addition to all of this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can
extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take up your shield today, wrap yourself in God's goodness and faithfulness whatever you are going through. Trust that He will sustain you 24 hours a day. When you are awake and when you sleep, let God be your shield. When flaming arrows assail you, hold fast to that shield.
You are strong enough because the Lord is on your side, and He will see you through.
Even though David feared for his life and the lives of his loved ones, as he fled his home in fear, as he watched friend and family abandon him, as people told him he was getting what he deserved, that God had in fact forgotten him:
David picked up that shield.
David didn't say, "Lord, be my shield."
He said, "Lord, you are my shield."
Paul says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:38)
David had never heard these wise words, but he believed them.
Whatever you are facing today, take up your shield of faith and know that your Father loves you and has your back whatever your foe may be. Not that He will make it all go away, but that He will never leave you, that He will equip you, and that He will fight for you.
The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.
Heavenly Father, you are good and faithful. We thank you for sustaining us and for walking beside us. Father, sometimes our shields are on the ground and we do not feel like we have the strength even to pick the thing up. Help us to pick that thing up and believe that You go before us and behind us. That you hear our cries, our tears, our worries for our children and our marriages and our friends and ourselves. We love You and we trust You. You were, are, and always will be faithful and true. Amen.