Friends, Enemies, and the Accused

Every Tuesday Stephanie invites us to reflect on a psalm. You can read the rest of those reflections here.

Psalm 59

For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” Of David. A miktam.[b] When Saul had sent men to watch David’s house in order to kill him.

1 Deliver me from my enemies, O God;
be my fortress against those who are attacking me.
2 Deliver me from evildoers
and save me from those who are after my blood.
3 See how they lie in wait for me!
Fierce men conspire against me
for no offense or sin of mine, Lord.
4 I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me.
Arise to help me; look on my plight!
5 You, Lord God Almighty,
you who are the God of Israel,
rouse yourself to punish all the nations;
show no mercy to wicked traitors.[c]
6 They return at evening,
snarling like dogs,
and prowl about the city.
7 See what they spew from their mouths—
the words from their lips are sharp as swords,
and they think, “Who can hear us?”
8 But you laugh at them, Lord;
you scoff at all those nations.
9 You are my strength, I watch for you;
you, God, are my fortress,
10 my God on whom I can rely.
God will go before me
and will let me gloat over those who slander me.
11 But do not kill them, Lord our shield,[d]
or my people will forget.
In your might uproot them
and bring them down.
12 For the sins of their mouths,
for the words of their lips,
let them be caught in their pride.
For the curses and lies they utter,
13 consume them in your wrath,
consume them till they are no more.
Then it will be known to the ends of the earth
that God rules over Jacob.
14 They return at evening,
snarling like dogs,
and prowl about the city.
15 They wander about for food
and howl if not satisfied.
16 But I will sing of your strength,
in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
my refuge in times of trouble.
17 You are my strength, I sing praise to you;
you, God, are my fortress,
my God on whom I can rely.

I got up before anyone else this morning and went running. It was terrible. Hot and humid, like I was breathing steam. Apparently 8 is not earlier enough for an early run in the deep south in June. My lungs felt tight, screaming at me that they were not going to be able to get from this air everything that they needed. Especially if I kept up at the very, very slow pace I was going. Let’s just say it has been awhile. As I was running, then walking, then thinking about running, and continuing to walk I was listening to Jonathan Martin preach about the woman caught in adultery and the men throwing rocks.

The men throwing rocks. I stand accused as a rock thrower. I am by no means innocent of this sin. I have picked up rocks when I was supposed to extend grace. I have yelled and screamed but what about them! when confronted with my own wrong doing. But in this case, I have looked down, expecting to see the rocks I have been told I have, only to see broken shards of a relationship that perhaps I broke by clinging too tightly, not letting go soon enough.

It still breaks me. It breaks me to know someone so well, and not at all anymore. I am sure that someone would say the same thing. It breaks me to return the pieces of our lives, but cowardly, only at a time I know no one will be home. It breaks me to run across a driveway I once pulled into and blessed the Lords name, praying that I have successfully avoided an inevitably awkward interaction.

I cannot tell you how many times I have searched my heart, looking for the rocks that even I suspected I threw, only to find that while I am sure imperfectly, I have loved the best way I know how. But where does that leave me? With an email that hurls rocks of its own. Abandoner. False Friend. One who does not love like Jesus. No different from everyone else who failed. A stumbling block on someone’s way to the cross.

And with those words, a friend has become an enemy. Against me over and over again, at least within the confines of my own brain on repeat. And as I walk, limp really, slowly up the hill on my way back home, I hear what my podcast preacher is saying about the accuser, how it is often how we see God, but it is the first way The Enemy is described. And in my sweaty tired mess, annoyed that I can not run further or faster I yell to God exasperated, “Well that is all well and good for David, but what if the enemy was once your friend!”

Sometimes, even I am amazed by the depths of my ability to think that my problems are unique, that I am the only one who has been hurt this way. Didn’t David love Saul, sing to him in his misery, kiss his son and call him a brother? Doesn’t that make this psalm all the more heartbreaking? The mouths from which those words are spoken are ones that once blessed David richly.

And yet? In the morning David praises the Lord. Even when the attack comes from a place that has the capacity to completely cripple me, even when the words work into my head and I become my own accuser, the Lord is my Fortress. I will praise him in the morning.


5 thoughts on “Friends, Enemies, and the Accused

  1. Oh, ouch. I am so sorry, Abby. I have a very complicated relationship that I cannot walk away from completely, one that mystifies me and hurts. One in which I’ve tried to own my contributions to the distancing, but have been rebuffed or misunderstood or . . . ? We are cordial, but never again will we be close. It’s been many years now and it still surprises me with pain from time to time. Not as badly as it once did, but yeah – it’s there.

  2. I am so sorry…nothing hurts worse than receiving pain from someone you used to look to for love. Yikes. Take strength from David, he had a shot at killing Saul and he didn’t do it. What restraint!
    We are not kings, but we are children of God, slogging through life doing the best we can. I know that is you.
    I will be praying for you.

    Peace in Christ,

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