Purposeful Problems – Reflection on Psalm 59

Psalm 59:1-17

Jokers to the Left, Clowns to the Right

I don’t like problems. When I have a problem I try to fix it, or get it fixed, as soon as I have. Problems are enemies which work against my goals and agenda.

Imagine my surprise when the psalmist ask God to allow his enemies, who represents threats to his goals and agendas, to hang around! Usually in these psalms, the psalmist asks God to destroy his enemies in no uncertain terms. This time, however, he doesn’t. Even though he wants to be delivered from his enemies, in verse 11, he asks God to not destroy them!

He has a good reason for wanting these enemies to hang around. He wants them to serve as an example of what happens when you work against God and his purposes. I’ve heard it said that if we can’t be a good example, we can at least be a cautionary tale. The psalmist believes that his enemies can be a cautionary tale and help people remember God.

The enemies are real. They wait to attack for no good reason. The psalmist describes them as dogs, raving around for food, growling and howling. The psalmist doesn’t want them gone, but to fall to their own devices instead.

Singing Every Morning

Like the cartoons where the character creates an elaborate trap to catch his prey and then ends up being the victim of his own device, we feel vindicated. It might not be good, but we tend to receive satisfaction when we see our enemies fall into a trap they set for us. We might whisper, “Serves you right…” under our breath as we see them fall into the pit they dug for us.

The psalmist desires that his enemies be trapped in their pride so that their words, thoughts, and actions, get the best of them. He hopes they are consumed in wrath and that they are no more.

As he reflects on his enemies as dogs that prowl around, he offers a better way. They roam around looking for prey. They want to get ahead and their strategy is to consume others. His life, however, is secure in God. As they are roaming around, looking for someone to destroy, the psalmist looks to God. Enemies come back every evening, but in the morning he will be singing praises to God for his protection and steadfast love.

Our Enemies

Enemies still lay in wait today, but may not be so easily identified. Attitudes, mindsets, and hidden agendas, surround us each and every day. Sometimes forces we can’t even see work against us. Jesus said that our enemy roams around like a lion looking for people to destroy. His goal is to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Perhaps our enemies just aren’t as easy to see today.

We still have forces at work in the world that actively seek to destroy us and our faith. They are looking for ways to steal our faith, kill our joy, and destroy our life with God. They take on many forms. Some of the forms don’t look like enemies at all, but, in the end, leave us broken and faithless.

Perhaps the psalmist is right. Even though I don’t like the enemies that seek to destroy me or my plans, if these problems, issues, and challenges weren’t constantly facing me, I could very easily forget God. When all is smooth sailing, I can get a bit cocky and arrogant thinking I have everything figured out and I know what I’m doing. A well placed enemy often reminds me that I don’t have everything figured out and I do very much need God.

Remembering to Sing

I don’t always see these enemies fall to their own devices, but when they are around, I am reminded of how much I truly need God. I also receive comfort knowing I don’t have to face these challenges alone. God is with me. In the morning when the enemies have fallen to the power of God, I will sing.

No matter what you face in the night, may you discover God’s protection and steadfast love so that a song rises up within you!

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