The Light of the Living

Psalm 55 (56 in the Hebrew) is written for “a people that is removed at a distance from the sanctuary.”

Separated from his Creator, man turns on himself and becomes his own enemy:

Have mercy on me, O God, for man hath trodden me under foot; all the day long he hath afflicted me fighting against me. My enemies have trodden on me all the day long; for they are many that make war against me.

When faced with affliction on account of man’s depravity—whether it be ours, or theirs on whom we depend—it is natural to be afraid. Such fears can even be healthy, if they prompt us to turn to the only One who can solve the dilemmas caused by sin:

From the height of the day I shall fear: but I will trust in thee. In God I will praise my words, in God I have put my trust: I will not fear what flesh can do against me.

Turning to God does not instantly relieve us of all afflictions. So long as others remain set against divine grace, those who rely upon it may even be targeted for more intense persecution:

All the day long they detested my words: all their thoughts were against me unto evil. They will dwell and hide themselves: they will watch my heel.

When we place ourselves under our Lord’s care, however, we know that our enemies are fighting a losing battle. Those offended by our love of God face two options: either to repent of their sins, and cease being enemies; or learn the hard way that sin does not pay.

As they have waited for my soul, for nothing shalt thou save them: in thy anger thou shalt break the people in pieces. O God, I have declared to thee my life: thou hast set my tears in thy sight, As also in thy promise. Then shall my enemies be turned back. In what day soever I shall call upon thee, behold I know thou art my God.

In sum, this Psalm reminds us that this earth is a battlefield. Though we cannot avoid being caught in the conflict between heaven and hell, we can find peace of heart when we fight on the side whose victory is already guaranteed:

In God will I praise the word, in the Lord will I praise his speech. In God have I hoped, I will not fear what man can do to me.

When we are faithful to our heavenly Commander, we can be sure that he will look upon us with a gaze that is the only source of light and life:

In me, O God, are vows to thee, which I will pay, praises to thee: Because thou hast delivered my soul from death, my feet from falling: that I may please in the sight of God, in the light of the living.

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