Reading: Psalm 80: 103
Verse Two: “Awaken your might; come and save us.”
Today’s Psalm is written at the time of the Assyrian invasion. The nation of Israel is divided and the Northern Kingdom has fallen to the invading army. The psalmist expresses the hope of the Southern Kingdom when he writes, “Awaken your might; come and save us.” It is a great plea for God’s intervention and help.
At times in our lives we will issue a similar plea. We may not be facing an approaching army, but many things invade our lives and try to steal our faith in God, our commitment to our family and friends, our joy and peace in life. The invading force may be ‘small’ things like gossip or jealousy or greed or resentment or pride. As these things come to permeate our life, they draw our focus away from God. ‘Larger’ forces such as addiction, slavery to our jobs, and selfishness can steal time and attention from things that really matter in our faith and in our lives.No, we may not have a vast army with horses and chariots on our border, but we do have plenty of things in life that can make us cry out for God’s might to save us. And He does.
Our Psalm today begins by calling God a shepherd. This image of God evokes care, protection, guidance, and watchfulness over the sheep. As our shepherd, God provides all of this for us, the sheep of His flock. As our shepherd, God also helps us avoid dangers and evils while trying hard to guide us to good and safe pastures. It is through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives that God leads and guides us as we journey through life. When we listen to and follow the guidance of the Spirit, we find peace and rest and joy and contentment in this life. These things help us to fend off those invading armies and to keep to the path that God intends for our lives.
We are saved not to simply rest in our salvation, to enjoy a quiet God-centered life. We are not called to be silent, isolated sheep. We are called to be in the world, trusting God to be with us as we go forth to share our peace, joy, love, and contentment with other sheep who are lost and are seeking these things for their lives. We are called to bring God’s love, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness to others so that they too may come to know the Good Shepherd. May Jesus flow out of us today, so that in all we do and say others may see Him today, coming to know the Good Shepherd as Lord of their lives.