There is a reason Jesus taught us to pray, “deliver us from evil”. We live in a broken world full of desperate people who use lies to make themselves look better when they have failed. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, writes Paul. (Romans 3:23) We use gossip to put others down in efforts to make ourselves feel significant and worthy. We use manipulation, smoke and mirrors, “fake it ‘til you make it” tricks to get ahead in life for we feel that is the only way to be made known. These are the age-old tricks of Satan, the opposite of living God’s Way.
The psalm begins with distress, concludes with war, and in between deals with deception and slander. When we find ourselves experiencing distress and disappointment, there are three ways to turn our burdens into blessings.
- We Pray. The writer had prayed in a previous time of trouble, and the Lord had answered him, so now he had confidence to pray again. Instead of complaining about his situation, he shared it with the Lord and, in this psalm, shared it with us. His problem was that people were lying about him and slandering his name. He went to God first.
- Trust God. The writer did not need to attack the enemy, because the Lord would do it for him. There is so much godless speech in our world today that believers must be careful what they hear and how it affects them. We must not only turn away our eyes from self-centeredness but also turn away our ears from hearing foolish, demeaning talk. When we are slandered and lied about, we must leave the matter with the Lord and trust Him to work.
- Endure with Patience. I hear you. We probably have the most difficulties with these words. We don’t like to wait for God to act against our enemy. We don’t like to endure much of anything. But James tells us that endurance produces maturity. He writes, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:2-5, NIV
Warren Wiersby, Bible scholar and Commentator, gives us this wisdom, “The psalmist was a peacemaker and tried to encourage his godless Jewish neighbors to be peaceable, but they were more intent on making war. His loving words only made them more and more angry. After over fifty years of ministry, I am convinced that most of the problems in families and churches are caused by professed Christians who do not have a real and vital relationship to Jesus Christ. They are not humble peacemakers but arrogant troublemakers. Until God changes them or they decide to go elsewhere, the dedicated believers must be patient and prayerful. This is the way Joseph dealt with his brothers in Canaan and his false accusers in Egypt. It is also the way David dealt with King Saul and Jesus dealt with His enemies.”
If we profess, we must confess our own sin. Jesus said “pray for your enemies, do good to them.” Think about this: We might be the enemy of someone else because of our arrogant behavior! So, be careful to acknowledge the evil one as the true enemy who delights in lying to us about life and how to live it. Jesus also prayed to God the Father, “Deliver us from evil” because Jesus knew the Liar well. Pray, Trust God, Endure while God works.
Worship and Wisdom, Psalm and Proverbs
Psalm 120, The Message
1-2 I’m in trouble. I cry to God,
desperate for an answer:
“Deliver me from the liars, God!
They smile so sweetly but lie through their teeth.”
3-4 Do you know what’s next, can you see what’s coming,
all you bold-faced liars?
Pointed arrows and burning coals
will be your reward.
5-7 I’m doomed to live in Meshech,
cursed with a home in Kedar,
My whole life lived camping
among quarreling neighbors.
I’m all for peace, but the minute
I tell them so, they go to war!
TRUTH: I cry out to God and He answers.
Proverb 22:1, The Message
WISDOM: A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich; a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank.
Abba, Father in Heaven,
Hallowed be Your Name. May Your Kingdom come and reign in us and all around us, recognized by us. May Your will be done in every detail of our lives here as it is in heaven. Give us all you know we will need to live in well with wisdom for this journey called Today. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptations, but DELIVER us from all evil and evil’s schemes to distract us from you. For you have all power, to you be all glory. Thank you for always working in us, helping us up when we stumble or fall for the tricks of evil’s trade. Thank you for giving us strength to endure while we wait on You. Keep us from doing harm but to live in peace with others. Yes, You are God and we are not. We need you every hour.
In Jesus Name, Amen