November 16, 2021
Pierce J. (Jack) Edwards
The Dark Night of the Soul
1 Lord, how many are my foes!
Psalm 3 (NIV)
How many rise up against me!
2 Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”[b]
3 But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
4 I call out to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.
5 I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
6 I will not fear though tens of thousands
assail me on every side.
7 Arise, Lord!
Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.
8 From the Lord comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people.
DevotionAlmost every Christian I have known has experienced the dark night of the soul. There are those moments in our spiritual journey when it seems we are on the midnight shift and daylight will never come. We kick the sheets all night only to wake up as tired as when we retired to sleep.
Psalm 3 is a prayer of one who stands accused by enemies who have been rising up against them in increasing numbers. The hostility of these enemies has humiliated the psalmist and deprived them of their dignity. The psalmist seems to be suffering some kind of personal distress, most likely bodily illness, which leads their enemies to curse them as one cast off by God. One thing clear is that the psalmist hungers for God to restore their dignity.
The psalmist begins with words of lament, but he knows he is not without help. They trust in God to be their protector, the upholder and the restorer of their honor, the One who lifts them out of their humiliation to a sense of dignity and consciousness of worth. When in need, the writer cries out to God because they have the assurance that God will hear their prayers.
As you read through the Psalm, the writer’s expression of trust continues. In times past, similarly burdened and in trouble, they came to the sanctuary. Before the Lord, who dwells in the most holy place, again and again they lay down and fell asleep which had brought them to a wonderful awareness of being sustained by God. It is the past experiences that now lend them confidence.
The climatic part of the Psalm is the petition for God’s help. It is followed by a type of statement which expresses the highest degree of certainty that one can reach. It is an assurance that God has already taken care of the enemies and will provide salvation.
In those dark moments in our spiritual journey the writer of Psalm 3 teaches us a valuable lesson. It seems while they are distressed, they have learned through the years to trust God when enemies are beating them down.
Our enemies do not always have to be people. It could be a bad habit, an addiction, a wrong decision made in the stress of a moment, a misunderstanding, a word said that should not have been said or even a silence when we should have said something. Many things can cause us to be on the midnight shift in our spiritual journey.
The Good News is that we can leave it in the hands of a loving, understanding and caring God and then go to sleep remembering how many other times we trusted God and it worked out alright. I can still hear the voice of the Rev. Barbara Brokhoff saying, “One thing we need to learn again as Christians, is that God can be trusted.” The Psalmist had learned that in their spiritual journey and maybe we all need to learn that again. God can be trusted to deliver us from any enemy that may be troubling our soul.