Psalm 17:1 Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry; give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit. 2 From you let my vindication come; let your eyes see the right. 3 If you try my heart, if you visit me by night, if you test me, you will find no wickedness in me; my mouth does not transgress. 4 As for what others do, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent. 5 My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.
This psalm is attributed to David. For a man who enjoyed the favor of God, he sure was in trouble a lot. Here he seeks the Lord for protection and vindication in two key ways.
First, there is a verbal petition, “Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry”. It’s not as if God doesn’t know David is in need, yet David speaks to the Lord of his need nonetheless. I’m not sure what it is, but there’s something about our active seeking of God that stirs God to act. I suppose there’s a posture of humility and dependence revealed when we seek God like this. It’s an acknowledgement that we are powerless on our own.
Secondly, there is a commitment to follow the will and ways of God, “My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped”. God has given us boundaries within which to live, not because God wants to cramp our style, but because God wants what’s best for us. When we remain close to God’s will and ways we remain under God’s protection. When we rebel against God, choosing our own ways instead of God’s ways, we step outside of God’s protection. We become vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks. The apostle Peter puts it this way in the New Testament:
“8 Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.”
One of my mentors used to ask, “If the enemy were going to take you out (exploit your vulnerability) how would he do it?” He was asking us to name where we had stepped outside of God’s will and, therefore, God’s protection. The enemy is always looking for an opening with us and with those we love. This is particularly true for those of us who serve as leaders in the church. If the enemy can expose us, take us down, we can’t do the work of the Kingdom. We become neutralized.
Let me ask you the same question brothers and sister. If the enemy were going to take you out, how would he do it? Where are you vulnerable because of unconfessed sin or willful disobedience? We all have vulnerabilities, make no mistake. At some level we are all children of sin in need of redemption. Yet God has made a way for us to close those vulnerabilities. We can confess our sin to the Lord, repenting and asking for God’s forgiveness – along with the grace to turn away from our sin.
Lord, let it be so. Amen.