What do you see in the midst of a conflict?
Throughout this summer, I’ve been studying David’s 27th Psalm of victory in the midst of peril and persecution. At the very beginning of his psalm, David posed two questions that each of us must answer. He asked, “who shall I fear and whom shall I dread?” His questions were stated in confidence because he already had determined that the Lord was his light and his defense. Because of his position in God there was nothing nor anyone that he needed to fear. He continued, “When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, my adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident” (Psalm 27:3-4). Note the challengers that were coming against him: evildoers, adversaries, enemies, and a host. They were coming to wage war against and devour David’s flesh.
Perhaps you feel as if evil doers have taken their stance against you. Maybe it appears as if the enemy has encamped against you, your family, or your church. We all know that the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). We also know that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but “against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). The striking aspect about David in Psalm 27 is that he didn’t pray against his foes. He didn’t ask for relief or protection from their threats. Instead, David sought for intimacy with the Lord.
“One thing” he asked of the Lord and that one thing he asked for was to dwell with the Lord and seek His beauty (Psalm 27:4). David discovered something about spiritual warfare that remains a lesson for all of us today and that is the greatest strategy of spiritual warfare is not chasing the enemy, but chasing the presence of the Lord. If the enemy can entice our attention from the Lord, then we’ve already lost the battle. I love the response that Elisha gave his servant when the Arameans surrounded his city. Elisha gave no concern for their horses and chariots; he said to his servant, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16).
Somehow, David knew that if he could dwell in the presence of the Lord, then it wouldn’t matter who was encamped against him. There is no greater place of safety for you than in the presence of the Lord. I hope that you will discover the blessed rest that comes through intimacy. The forces of evil will do everything possible to draw us into a conflict without the help and cover of the Lord. David, however, set his eyes to look upon the beauty of the Lord and not the disaster that surrounded him.
Intimacy gives us a perspective that we wouldn’t otherwise have. I once heard a minister contrast the difference in perspective between a turtle and a giraffe. To the turtle, everything looks big and intimidating. A turtle cannot see beyond the immediate circumstances that it’s in, but a giraffe has a different perspective. A giraffe is able to see beyond, even above, its circumstances. From a giraffe’s point of view, the turtle’s concerns would not be the giraffe’s concerns because of its perspective. Out of David’s posture of intimacy he said, “And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me” (Psalm 27:6). David looked above and beyond the enemies that were around him as if to say, “they are no big deal from my vantage point.”
When you’ve found your dwelling place in the Lord, you’ll be enabled to look above the darkness that surrounds you. You’ll be able to see the presence of the Lord and His beauty against the misery and stench of the enemy. The ability to bring transformation will come not by looking at the threatening circumstances around you, but by seeing the manifest presence of Jesus. From that perspective, you’ll be empowered with the faith and courage to not only stand your ground, but to declare thy kingdom come and thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Intimacy gives you the eyes to see past the enemy’s threats so that you can see the Lord’s promises.
Finally, from a place of intimacy with the Lord, David was able to say, “I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord” (Psalm 27:6). David didn’t utter complaints unto the Lord. He didn’t grumble or complain about the surrounding evil that desired to devour his flesh. Rather, David, with a new perspective, sang praises to God in the midst of war and conflict. Praise in the midst of adversity demonstrates our ability to trust God over any and all situations that may be confronting us. Worship unto God is the inevitable out-spill of a life of intimacy. It shapes us to look beyond the immediate and to hunger for the ultimate. David was enabled to sing praises to God because he believed that he would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13). His posture of intimacy forged within him a passion to look past the evil circumstances around him and to discover the blessings of God.
So, let me ask again: What do you see in the midst of conflict?
Jesus, I want to dwell in your presence and seek your beauty all the days of my life. Enable me to look above the enemy and his threats to see the goodness of the Lord.