Through No Fault of Mine

In the Alfred Hitchcock classic North by Northwest, starring Cary Grant, Grant plays an advertising executive who is mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies. As a result, Grant finds himself trying to escape one attempt on his life after another—all because of a case of mistaken identity. I doubt that anyone would find himself in a situation so complicated and convoluted as Grant’s character; however, the righteous can find themselves treated as enemies without having done anything whatsoever to deserve it. David had served King Saul admirably, bringing him great victories for Israel and honoring him in the process. Unfortunately, Saul’s jealousy of David’s exploits led the king to become openly hostile toward David, though David had done absolutely nothing wrong. Reflecting on an instance where he found himself on the run and hiding from Saul’s men, David wrote, “They run and prepare themselves through no fault of mine. Awake to help me, and behold!” (Psa. 59:4). David felt the pressure, the fear, and the sadness that came with this situation, but he trusted God through it all. And that must be our approach to any similar circumstance as well.

It can be difficult to understand why people would spew hatred toward someone who has never wronged them, yet Jesus suffered from this throughout His ministry, even dying as a direct result of this attitude. In fact, sometimes people simply find the existence of righteousness—and even peace and happiness—a threat because they do not enjoy them themselves. As a result, they attempt to even the score—not by seeking peace and happiness, but by trying to ruin the lives of others. This is the nature of evil. It is destructive and vindictive. And the people who fall into these patterns are victims of Satan’s devices even as they make the righteous their enemies. Even in the church, Christians who find their faults exposed often lash out to destroy those who have figured them out. For the guilty Christian, their motive is a sad type of self-preservation—seeking to preserve the myth of their godliness and their “territory,” much like the chief priests and scribes in the time of Jesus. A Christian caught in such circumstances will feel isolated, betrayed, and confused, just trying to grasp what the motives could be of the hatred, lies, and contempt expressed by their own brethren. It is a mournful plight, to be sure, and yet it has occurred far too frequently.

Whether at school, at work, at home, or in the church, it is possible to find yourself spiritually “on the run,” trying to defend yourself against a flurry of attacks that you do not deserve and probably do not even understand. It can be easy to allow your attackers to become your enemies, to induce you into returning the hate and losing sight of the righteousness that indirectly played a role in your situation. But we must rise above this, as David did and as Jesus did, and accept that being reviled does not justify reviling in return. Instead, we should heed the inspired words of Peter, “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter” (1 Pet. 4:15-16).

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God Is My Helper

There are few feelings to compare with having your life threatened. The victim of a hold up while working retail during college, I can understand in a very small way what some have felt often. It can produce a piercing sensation that reaches down deep within, challenging your purpose, your direction, and your preparation. In those moments you must come to grips with the distance between what your priorities are and what they should be. But most of all, you simply feel helpless and alone. But you have Someone who can help, and that is the real key to get through not only threats to your life and their aftermath, but all of life itself.

David had more than his share of peril throughout his life. From the early dangers he faced serving as a shepherd for his father to the violence he encountered on the battlefield to the persecution he faced at the hand of Saul, David knew from an early age what it felt like to have his life threatened. The loneliness and helplessness that such circumstances naturally created must have been tremendous. Even when you have friends and family that support you, feeling like you have a target on your back has an isolating effect that few can imagine. When David was running from Saul, he sought refuge in an isolated area among the Ziphites only to have those people report his presence to the king. When he spotted Saul and learned how his location had been revealed, it must have been frustrating and frightening. Yet, this occasion provided the backdrop for reflection when he penned Psalm 54. Rather than panic, he trusted in God to deliver Him (Psa. 54:1), listen to him (Psa. 54:2), and save him from the treachery of the Ziphites (Psa. 54:3). He then penned these words, “Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is with those who uphold my life” (Psa. 54:4). This perspective, a perspective that had confidence in victory because of God (Psa. 54:5), confidence in God’s goodness (Psa. 54:6), and confidence in deliverance because of faith (Psa. 54:7), is the mindset that offers peace in the midst of turmoil and serenity in the midst of life’s storms.

This was no blind expectation or self-delusion. David’s faith was justified entirely. In this instance he even had opportunity to take Saul’s life but refused to do so…because of the same faith that expressed confidence in deliverance. Had he struck Saul himself, he would have violated a principle of respect for the LORD’s anointed, and his faith trusted that God would provide the way, knowing that killing Saul himself was not in accord with the Lord’s will. God is our helper, but His help will come in His way according to His will.  Therefore, our faith must be strong enough not only to trust in the possibility of deliverance, but to trust God’s means as well. All of us will face times of turmoil and peril. We may even have enemies who make our lives extremely difficult. But even if our problems stem from health issues or economic woes or persecution on the job, David’s answer is still our answer: God is our helper. When we have that thought firmly planted in our soul, the greatest attack Satan may bring will not put a dent in our faith.

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