- Anna de Castro
Who or what are you relying on today?
God created us as dependent, reliant beings. Our neediness is inherent in our very created nature. The question then is ‘who or what are you depending on?’
I have been meditating on the words of Psalm 20, particularly in light of recent developments within the Church of England. It’s a Psalm of David, a prayerful song given to God’s people to plead to the LORD for the victorious success of the Davidic King when facing ‘the day of trouble’ (Ps. 20:1). In the midst of contending for the faith, within what feels and appears to be a time of trouble, the words of this Psalm are a balm to the heart. The Psalm was not intended to stand alone, but is to be read alongside the following Psalm 21.
Notice the movement from petitions and trust in God’s promises to fulfilment between the two Psalms: Prayers for the LORD to answer in “the day of trouble” (Ps. 20:1), are satisfied as ‘the King rejoices…how greatly he exults!’ (Ps. 21:1); Pleas for the King to be granted his ‘hearts’ desire’ (Ps. 20:4), are ‘given him’ (Ps. 21:2); Anticipation of the King’s victorious salvation (Ps. 20:5-6&9), is expressly and gloriously realised, ‘you set a crown of fine gold upon his head. He asked life of you; you gave it to him, length of days forever and ever. His glory is great through your salvation’ (Ps. 21:3-4). The words of Psalm 20 look for and rely on the Lord, in the midst of need and weakness, but their fulfilment is victoriously and wondrously found in the following Psalm. We are left with no jeopardy, no doubt at all, as to who we want to be relying on in the day of trouble and in our distress. ‘Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will trust in the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright’ (Ps. 20:7-8).
In our weakness, when the pressure is on, we are tempted to turn to the ‘chariots’ and ‘horses’ of our day – what cavalry are you waiting for right now in your life, your ministry, your church? There are many who, especially in light of the most recent General Synod, are feeling weary, burdened, weak, fearful of the future.
Maybe you are involved in ordained ministry, feeling vulnerable and abandoned by those who are supposed to be shepherding you. Follow and know the voice and leadership of the faithful, good and perfect Shepherd (Jn. 10) – the victorious King of Psalms 20 & 21: He guides you, keeps you, protects you, laid his life down for his sheep, laid his life down for you. The Shepherd who loves, guides and tenderly leads us beside the cool, still and refreshing waters of his perfect care (Ps. 23). Follow his leadership, be Shepherded by him.
Perhaps, like me, you’re involved in discipling children and young people. You wonder how to be a relevant and faithful voice for them in an increasingly secular culture. Sister, brother, believe and trust ‘in the name of the LORD our God’ (Ps.20:7) and the victorious fulfilment of all his promises found in the person of Jesus. ‘The word of God is living and active’ (Heb. 4:12), the gospel of Jesus Christ and his teaching is fresh and alive – it couldn’t be more relevant! Children and young people are thirsty and starving for the vibrant, living gospel of Jesus Christ; it is a gospel that is so good it is worth living for, and it is a gospel so relevant it is worth dying for. That is the kind of victorious and saving gospel young people are desperate for - so let’s give it to them!
To all, weak and weary in the midst of the battle, lift your eyes, even for a moment, to the throne of heaven. Gaze at the one who is seated there, ‘through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved’ (Ps. 21:7). He will not be moved, because he has already been victorious – job done. His throne is not in trouble, nor is his Kingdom. Jesus isn’t worried, fretting or threatened, because he knows the future. He knows your future. He knows our future because of what he has already accomplished in the past through the victory of his death and resurrection. While the enemy prowls like a roaring lion today (1 Pet. 5:8), he is bound by a leash, defeated knowing his destruction is sure. Those who ‘plan evil against you, though they devise mischief, they will not succeed’ (Ps. 21:11), ‘they will collapse and fall’ (Ps. 20:8). We are alert and sober-minded, but we are not to be afraid. Instead, we turn our weary and weak hearts to the One who has been victorious and is seated in glory on his throne forever and ever. Fix your eyes on him again, the one who holds your hand, the one you belong to, the one who has been victorious in salvation and who has secured the future of his church, his kingdom. The one who uttered on his day of distress a cry of victory on our behalf, ‘it is finished’ (Jn. 19:30).