Surrounded by Enemies
“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.” Psalm 91:14
My nephew is a Marine chaplain who served in Afghanistan in 2010. One morning, before a convoy left the camp for combat duty, he encouraged the soldiers who attended morning devotions by reading Psalm 140.
This psalm is a prayer for protection. David began it with a plea: “Rescue me, O LORD, from evil men; protect me from men of violence, who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day.” David then described the kind of “evil” his enemies devised: poisonous words (v. 3) and hidden traps (v. 4-5).
Our troops face these kinds of enemies, both literally and symbolically, every day. They not only confront human enemies who lie to them and ambush them, but they also face the unseen enemies of depression, fear, and loneliness. David, too, encountered both types of enemies throughout his life, and he gave his strategy for fighting these combatants in the rest of the psalm.
First, he reminded himself that the Sovereign of the Universe cared about him: “You are my God” (v. 6). David also believed that the LORD listened to his prayer and would deliver him: “my strong deliverer who shields my head in the day of battle” (v. 7). Third, he was confident that God wouldn’t allow evil to triumph in the end (v. 8).
David’s confidence in God’s protection and power prompted him to end the psalm in praise: “Surely the righteous will give thanks to your name; The upright will dwell in your presence” (v. 13 NASB).
David prayed for protection in verse 1; in verse 13 he acknowledged that the security he desired was found only in the presence of the Lord. Do you need protection today? Find it by taking time to dwell in the presence of the LORD–pray about the enemies you’re facing, meditate on the truths in His Word, and then praise Him for the deliverance He will surely provide.
The Hebrew word translated “protect” in Psalm 140:1 is natsar, which means “to watch, to guard, to be kept close, to be blockaded.” The noun form was used to describe the duties of a watchman (Jeremiah 31:6) and a vineyard keeper (Isaiah 27:3). What do those comparisons suggest about the kind of protection God provides for us?
In Psalm 40:11 and Psalm 61:7, natsar is translated “preserve” in the NIV. What does the psalmist say is going to preserve him?
Psalm 3 is also one of David’s prayers for protection. What similarities do you see between Psalm 3 and Psalm 140?
Denise K. Loock