Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint;
protect my life from the threat of the enemy.
Psalm 64:1 (NIV)
Stepping up and into the spotlight of leadership always makes one an easy target. In virtually every position of leadership I’ve ever held, I’ve heard the sharp words of detractors. Typically, they come in the form of second-hand whispers or passive-aggressive remarks. The higher the position of leadership, the worse it gets. The positions of leadership I’ve held along my life journey are incredibly minor in the grand scheme of things. I may have faced challenges leading a small-town Iowa community theatre and a rural gathering of Jesus followers, but I can’t imagine how bad it gets leading a nation.
Today’s chapter, Psalm 64, is a lament of King David as he feels the sharp threats of conspiracy and the plots of his political enemies. One lesson every good leader knows is that you can’t control the thoughts, words, or actions of others. Trying to chase down and confront every critic or perceived antagonist is a recipe for disaster on several levels. David appears to have understood this well. The lyrics of this song stand as a testament to the fact that when it came to the twisted plots and the conspiratorial attacks of his enemies, David went to God.
Knowing that he had no control over his critics or their schemes, David gave them over to the only one he could count on in the situation.
Lying beneath the surface of the lyrics, David hid a creative, poetic image. Most of it survives the translation into English, but it’s seen with clarity in Hebrew, David’s native language. David uses specific words to metaphorically describe those twisted plots of his enemy:
evildoers (vs. 2)
tongues (vs. 3)
shoot (vs. 4)
suddenly (vs. 4)
In the second half of the song, as his lyrics describe God defending him and unraveling those twisted plots, he uses the same words in reverse order:
suddenly (vs. 7)
shoot (vs. 7)
tongues (vs. 8)
works of God (vs. 9)
The same words used in reverse order are a hidden metaphor. David is entrusting God to unravel the conspiracy, untwist the plots, and protect David from those enemies he can’t control.
In the quiet this morning I find myself, in a small way, identifying with David’s plight. I’ve learned in this life journey that all I can do is to keep pressing on, asking for God’s guidance, seeking God’s purposes for me, and knocking on the door of every opportunity I have to grow in love, grace, and mercy. There will be obstacles, burdens, critics, detractors, and attacks. Those are all part of the journey. I will never be able to completely avoid, nor control them.
So every time those obstacles, burdens, critics, detractors, and attacks have my heart and mind twisted up in anxious knots, I have Psalm 64 to remind me what David did. He gave them over to God like Wendy handing me a necklace that’s hopelessly knotted up.
“Here, unravel this.”