By David Faust
It’s good to ask, “Who is my neighbor?” But the Psalms compel us to ask another question as well: “Who is my enemy?”
David prayed, “Be merciful to me, my God, for my enemies are in hot pursuit; . . . My adversaries pursue me all day long” (Psalm 56:1, 2).
Military enemies like the Philistines sought to kill David and destroy the nation of Israel. Throughout history, soldiers in the armed forces have found comfort and strength in Scriptures like Psalm 59, which says, “Deliver me from my enemies, O God; be my fortress against those who are attacking me. Deliver me from evildoers and save me from those who are after my blood” (vv. 1, 2).
Identifying Our Enemies
The Psalms apply to all of us, because we all have enemies to face.
Verbal enemies attack not with swords, but with words. Personal insults and harsh, dishonest comments hurt more than sticks and stones. David’s enemies attacked him verbally: “All day long they twist my words; all their schemes are for my ruin” (56:5). He lived among “men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords” (57:4).
Emotional enemies rise up within our hearts: immobilizing self-pity, crippling fear, prolonged discouragement, frustration and anger, the pain of injustice. David cried out, “Fierce men conspire against me for no offense or sin of mine, Lord. I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me” (59:3, 4). Longing for comfort and refuge, he said, “I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (61:2).
Even more dangerous are the spiritual enemies that attack our faith. When sinful desires “wage war” against our souls (1 Peter 2:11), God seems distant and aloof. David exclaimed, “You have rejected us, God. . . . You have shown your people desperate times” (Psalm 60:1-3)—and desperate times of doubt intensify when cynical unbelievers or mean-spirited Christians drag us down. David felt like he was “in the midst of lions . . . forced to dwell among ravenous beasts” (57:4), and like him, we confront a spiritual enemy who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Overcoming Our Enemies
The Lord calls us to be overcomers, not underachievers—victors, not victims. How can we defeat our verbal, emotional, and spiritual enemies?
Express anger in prayer, not through acts of vengeance. Feel like punching someone? Instead, ask God to be the judge. “Break the teeth in their mouths, O God; Lord, tear out the fangs of those lions!” (Psalm 58:6).
Replace despair with praise. Feeling downcast? Don’t give up; look up! “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth” (57:5, 11).
Defeat doubt by choosing faithfulness. Feeling spiritually weary? God is still there, eager to assist in the battle. “You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely” (59:17).
“Overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Sometimes you can turn enemies into friends by feeding them when they’re hungry and giving them water to drink when they are thirsty (see Proverbs 25:21). Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
“Who is my enemy?” Someone to love in Jesus’ name.
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of the Lookout.
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of THE LOOKOUT.
Numbers 21, 22
Numbers 26, 27
Numbers 31, 32
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