Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. (Psalm 3:1-4)
“God helps those who…”
Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “God helps those who help themselves.” It’s a sentiment that really expresses the pursuit of the American dream, and captures the heart of 500 years of western humanism. Let’s face it, it’s a pretty attractive idea, right? So you might be surprised that this phrase doesn’t originate with the Bible. It was actually coined by a 17th century English politician named Algernon Sidney who was executed for treason in 1683. While he was considered a traitor then, many revolutionaries over the next century regarded him as a hero and a martyr. Benjamin Franklin even quotes Sidney liberally in his Poor Richard’s Almanac.
But the Bible isn’t silent on this topic. It actually sings a very different tune! In fact, it’s far more accurate, according to scripture, to say that God helps those who CAN’T help themselves!
In Psalm 3, David begins by saying, “Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me!” But it’s not a question, it’s an observation. He’s not looking for a clever strategy to get himself out of the mess he’s in. He’s looking to God for help in his helplessness; he’s trusting God to protect him in the middle of the mess. He’s smart enough to know that he can’t work his way out of this, and he’s willing to set aside his pride and “call out to the Lord” for help.
It’s another Thirsty Thursday. And the Psalm for today once again reminds us that real life isn’t found in our self-sufficiency and independence; it isn’t found at the end of our mess. Instead, it is found smack dab in the middle of our problems, through the front door of our helplessness, trust and faith. It’s found in Jesus Christ, who said, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink” (John 7:37). It’s as simple—and as difficult—as that. Once we get over ourselves and realize that real life comes from God and belongs to God we can begin to live our lives in true freedom.
Stay thirsty for the Living Water Jesus is offering. Be surrounded by his shield when things look bad, and don’t stop looking to him when life is good. Let Him be your glory, your goal, your God!
Philip Rose, Lead Pastor
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