Disarming the Power of Our Rivals
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. 2 He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. 3 He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. 4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. 5 You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. 6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
I really love this Psalm; it’s an encouraging Psalm. I love that it shows the way David had the ability to disarm the power of the enemies in his world. I truly believe that every single one of us has been given an unrivaled promise, but that doesn’t mean that our unrivaled promise won’t go without being rivaled. I want to speak into disarming the power of our rivals the way that David did. I think there’s so much strength in being able to do that, and I really want to unpack what that looks like today.
The first thing that we can learn from David is that he elevated the Promise Giver over the promise. Sometimes we get so infatuated with the promise of God for our lives that we run after that and make it all about us. But we forget about the Promise-Giver in the equation! In verses 1-3 of Psalm 23, it talks about how God was elevated in David’s world as the Promise-Giver and how He guides him and rests him. Who likes being rested? I know I don’t like it when God rests me, but sometimes the rest is so necessary. David allowed God to lead him, and he allowed God to renew him.
When it’s all about the Promise Giver, He can guide and renew us too. But when we make it about the promise, we run hard after it, and it becomes about however we can get it done. We make our own way there, and then we blame God for the environment we created for ourselves. In essence, we are rebelling against God. When we rebel against God, we rebel against our own best interest.
Instead, we need to make it about God, because He’s the Promise Giver. He knows how to get us there and the right timing. There’s wisdom in following His lead to get us to the destination He’s planned for our lives. David knew how to do this.
The second thing David did was that he elevated God over the presence of his enemies. I don’t know about you, but the moment an enemy presents itself in my world my immediate response is to freak out. We elevate the circumstance, we elevate the situation, and we begin to go to the conspiracy-theorist place where we think they’re going to ruin our lives and bring us to our demise. Yet David knew how to elevate God in the presence of his enemies. This is a really powerful thing!
All of us have the presence of enemies in our world. In verse 5, it says: “You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.” You see, we have two enemies. We all have one common adversary, and that’s the devil. Then there’s humankind. Many of our enemies don’t come from hell. Actually, Jesus says to love your enemies, and He’s not referring to Satan when He talks about that. He’s talking about people in your life who have become tools of the enemy to make you miserable. Those people will come. In fact, they are the very people that David cries out in the Psalms for deliverance from.
With this in mind, the feast David described becomes even more amazing!. Here we get a picture that both classes of enemies are sitting at the table with you. They are watching as God serves you. On one side is the devil, and on the other side are our earthly enemies. In the midst of them, God is pouring out His blessing on you.
The enemy is raging because he thought that he had you. Then you’ve got these earthly enemies, and they thought you were finished. They were hoping for your demise. They intended evil towards you. They imagined mischief. They spread rumors. They talked about you. They set a plan for you!
But yet, in the midst of all of this, they are frustrated as God is serving up blessing to you. I love that David paints this picture for us. When we elevate God above our enemies we realize that we don’t actually have anything to worry about. God has everything in hand.
We don’t need to worry about what our enemies are doing. We don’t need to worry about the plot and the plan they’ve set for us. We don’t even need to worry about the traps the devil has set for us. If we have our eyes fixed on God and are elevating Him, He will keep us from stumbling and falling. We need to resist that distraction of the presence of an enemy in our world. We have the power to disarm our enemies by elevating the presence of God in their very midst. I love that David learned this trick.
But how does David do it? Well, the third thing that we see David do is to set his heart towards discipline, not discourse. The presence of an enemy can often take us off course and distract us from the very thing that God’s called us to do. This distraction will be the very thing that will try and minimize the call of God on our lives. It will get us second-guessing who we are and how God’s using us, because it’s not the same as someone else. In fact, the unique way that God wants to use you is the best way, because it’s the way that He’s chosen to use you. So we can celebrate our uniqueness.
I think the thing that David clued onto was to have a heart after God. He allowed his heart to be disciplined in the presence of God. The key to defeating the presence of enemies in our world is actually found in verse 4, when it says “even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”
The rod in Biblical times was the stick that would count the sheep, protect them from other animals (the shepherd would ward off any animals with that stick), and discipline them. The staff was there to lean on, to rest on and to find comfort in. I know the comfort and the discipline of the word of God. If we could be like David, we would come to the word of God in our time of need, in the high times of our life and the low times of life. The presence of God needs to be in the midst of all of that.
If we can be disciplined in the word, then God can keep us from stumbling. He can challenge us. So often we read the word, and we think about our husband. Or we think about our children. Or we think about our work colleague. Or we think about that enemy that really needs to hear this word right now. I would encourage you to look at the word and allow the word to produce something in you. The word has always been designed for there to be a response on our behalf to it - to receive it and to put it to work in our life.
I just want to encourage you that the word of God will keep your heart right. This word will keep the promise alive in you. This word will be the thing that shapes the course of your destiny. This word will protect you. This word will elevate the presence of God over any enemy, over any fear, over any anxiety, and over anything that you are facing today.
What situations are you elevating right now rather than remembering that God has it in hand?
How is God blessing you right now in the midst of your circumstance?
What’s one practical way you can apply the word of God in your life this week?
Thank You for helping us to elevate You in the presence of our enemies so that we can disarm the power of the enemy in our world and achieve the promise you’ve planned for our lives. We love You, God. We keep our eyes fixed on You.
In Jesus’s Name,