Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know that God is for me.
In the hit musical Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton’s political opponents recognize that one of his most powerful assets is his close relationship with George Washington. At first Aaron Burr sings, “It must be nice, it must be nice, to have Washington on your side.” Later, Burr is joined by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, who together sing with envy, “It must be nice, it must be nice, to have Washington on your side.”
Yes, in early years of the United States, it was nice to have Washington on your side. But Psalm 56 offers something even better. You have God on your side, and that is nice, to say the least.
In the beginning of Psalm 56, David cries out to God for mercy because “my enemies are in hot pursuit; all day long they press their attack” (56:1). In particular, David’s enemies are seeking to harm him by attacking him and twisting his words (56:2, 5). In the midst of this conflict, David quells his fears by putting his trust in God and God’s promises (56:3-4). He is reassured by the fact that God has listed David’s tears on his scroll (56:8). David is confident that his enemies will back down. Why? Here is his answer: “God is for me” (56:9). I like the New Living Translation, which reads, “This I know: God is on my side!”
Wouldn’t it be nice to know, really to know, that God is on your side? What a life-changing truth this is! Of course most of us don’t find ourselves in a situation exactly like that of David. Our “enemies” may not be human beings, but social forces (like poverty) or inner demons (like depression) or workplace pressures (a tyrannical boss). Most people I know do battle with fear and hopelessness, especially in a world that seems increasingly distant from the righteousness and justice of God’s kingdom.
In times of struggle and suffering, we might think, “It would be nice to know that God is on my side.” The good news of Psalm 56, indeed, the good news of the whole biblical record is that God is indeed on your side. God wants the very best for you. God will strengthen you and sustain you. God loves you and will never, ever let you go. Yes, to be sure, it is nice to know that God is on your side!
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Do you live your life as if God were on your side?
What difference would it make today if you really believed that God is for you, that God wants what is best for you, that God “has your back”?
Gracious God, what a wonderful truth this is. How I thank you for being on my side, for being “for me.”
Now, I understand this doesn’t mean you are always in support of whatever I want. Sometimes, I am seeking that which is not right or even best for me. Sometimes, my way isn’t your way. So, your being on my side doesn’t mean I always get my way.
But it does mean that you want the best for me, that you are looking out for me, that you are standing by my side to protect me. You are with me in times of doubt and discouragement. You help me to trust you when I am afraid. You strengthen me so that I might serve you faithfully and effectively.
Most of all, you are always with me and will never abandon me. How I thank you for this reassuring and empowering truth! Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary: God Knows Our Suffering
Image Credit: By Amanda Lucidon – whitehouse.gov, Public Domain, WikiMedia Commons