“Cannons to the left of them, cannons to the right of them, cannons in front of them, into the jaws of death rode the 600”. So begins Tennyson’s famous account of the “Charge of the Light Brigade” in the Crimean War. He was describing the heroic, yet costly attack of British calvary. The 600 rode thru a narrow valley, with Russian cannons smashing them from both sides.
Maybe you feel a little like those 600 riders. Life often feels dangerous. You don’t have to be horseback, on a battle field to feel threatened. There is enemy fire all the time for the Jesus follower. Warfare is real. And the ammo used is sometimes very damaging. Criticism, slander, ridicule, harshness can come from without, and inner voices hammer us with our own insufficiency, our lacks, ……cannons on the right, on the left, and right in front of you!
I want to encourage you with a Psalm written for such a time. King David writes to people in “times of trouble” (verse 9) in Psalm 9. He himself feels those troubles; “O Lord! See my affliction from those who hate me” (vs. 13). Psalm 9 highlights 3 steps we can take in the midst of hard times, when enemy attacks are real.
1. Recount God’s Blessings (vs. 1)
“I will recount Your wonderful deeds” David was surrounded by trouble. He was weary from being in charge, being strong for everyone else, being faithful in the countless roles he played. He was besieged by dissatisfied citizens, jealous associates and enemies, and rebellious kids. He could easily recite a list of reasons why he should be worried, tired, and irritable. But, he decides to “give thanks with my whole heart…. to recount all of Your wonderful deeds”(vs. 1). The word “recount” meant “to keep a tally, a running total”. Imagine how natural it would be for this tired leader to find reasons to be discouraged or angry. But, he determines to keep track of God’s “wonderful deeds” instead.
The most cheerful people are surely those who keep a running total of the good things. Some people seem to find that easier by a positive disposition. But, ultimately, for all of us, it takes practice. Keeping track of the blessings of God is learned behavior, taught at the feet of a God who wants us to see the “wonderful deeds” that He did today in our personal world. Did you see them? They were there! And they will be tomorrow!
2. Reflect on God’s Name (vv. 2-12)
The very next verse introduces the second theme of this Psalm; God’s Name.
“I will be glad and exult in you: I will sing praise to your name, O Most High” (vs. 2). God’s Name is the summary of who He is. David references it again in verse 10, “And those who know your Name put their trust in you”. David emphasizes in these verses God’s name as the Most High, a reference to His sovereign lordship over all things. Three times he repeats that God is the One who “sits on His throne” (vs. 4,7,11). David reminds us that times of trouble reveal our insufficiency, our littleness. We need our minds filled with the vision of a Big God. Recounting God’s blessings helps to remind us of that. Reflecting on His bigness, and expressing our intentional praise for it is important. too. David’s meditation on God’s name lead him to conclude…. “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. 10 And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” (vs. 9,10)
3. Request God’s Help (vv. 13-20)
The third step for David in the valley of enemy fire, is to cry out for God’s help. 13 Be gracious to me, O Lord! See my affliction from those who hate me. In verse 19 he cries, “Arise, O Lord, let not man prevail!!” With his mind now filled with God’s blessings and the Bigness of God, the king cries to God for present relief and strength. He had praised God. Now he petitions God for aid. And he does so with a beautiful motive. He asks for God to show up, to win the day, to sustain him for one reason. We see it in verse 13; “that I may recount all Your praises!”. You have to love this! David uses the same word “recount” (keep a running total of) from verse 1. He is saying, “GOD, rise up and fight for me! O, MOST HIGH do what I cannot do. My enemies are strong, the cannons are crippling, so I cry to YOU to be strong in my life and in my weakness. And, God, I ask this, that I may have MORE things to praise You for, more things to add to the total of your recorded wonderful deeds”.
O God, I am in the valley of enemy fire. I feel troubled about my present and future. But, I remember your deeds in my behalf. I lean into You right now as God MOST HIGH, the One enthroned over every enemy, every voice, every problem in my life. O Lord, arise and give me strength and courage. Do it God, so that in my tomorrows, I can give recount these moments to Your glory.
Written by Pastor Mark Willey