Looking Up When People Let You Down
by Dennis Michelson
Introduction: It is difficult to worship God when people let you down. It is a common experience for believers to attempt to worship God but find it impossible because their minds are saturated with thoughts of animosity about another person. This is especially difficult when the other person happens to be a close family member or friend.
This Psalm, written by King David, is directed toward those who have a desire to praise and worship God but cannot do so because they have been wronged by others. The writer cites three categories of people who can let you down and by so doing, hinder your worship.
1. WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR FOES TURN ON YOU
This problem is addressed in verses 2-3, as well as verse 6, along with verses 11-12. It may be a misnomer to say that "your enemies let you down", since you fully expect them to do so. Although it is expected, it is never a pleasant matter when one's foes launch an attack.
The psalmist expresses his unfailing confidence in God by stating that even "When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident."
The final phrase, "in this shall I be confident" literally means "in spite of this shall I be confident." The onslaught of one's enemies should become the occasion to express confidence and faith in God.
In verse 11, the writer continues his positive response to the personal attack by his enemies when he pleas unto the Lord to "Teach me thy way . . .and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies." The Hebrew phrases here are very interesting.
The plain path is literally a "way of plainness." Delitzsch said that it pictures a man wandering around like a hunted deer but God is able to guide him so that he can escape all dangers. He prays to be led in the way of God and not down some evil alternative route.
The reason given for requesting a plain path is said to be "because of mine enemies." Some marginal notes suggest "because of those which observe me." When God's people come under attack they are always closely scrutinized by their enemies.
Just as the attack can become an occasion for confidence in God, so it can also be an occasion for a testimony before the enemies of God. This is what Paul means in Philippians 1:28 where he tells his readers to not become terrified by their adversaries so that the believer's confidence may become "an evident token of perdition" to the enemy.
One of the best times to evangelize your enemy is when he is on the attack. You cannot help what they say but you can keep it from being true! Psalm 27:12 reveals a common tactic of the enemy - "for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty."
Spurgeon offered some stern comments for those who employ such nefarious tactics. He said, "Slander is an old-fashioned weapon out of the armoury of hell, and it is still in plentiful use; and no matter how holy a man may be, there will be some who will defame him."
Thank God that believers can still continue to worship their God despite the onslaughts of the enemy.
2. WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR FAMILY TURNS ON YOU
"When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." These are comforting words but very difficult to practice. There are few situations in life which bear a greater impact than alienation from one's own family. Jesus said,"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother . . .cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26)
Of course Jesus is not commanding hatred of parents. Matthew's account clarifies the matter when he says, "He that loveth father and mother more than me is not worthy of me." (Matthew 10:37) Again Spurgeon remarked that even when the milk of human kindness should dry up even from their breasts, there is a Father who never forgets.
When believers are forsaken by family members they should fall back on the blessed truth that the spiritual ties in the family of God are much stronger and secure than the temporal bonds of our earthly family. There is a great blessing for that believer who will retreat to the house of God and the people of God during those times when their family forsakes them.
3. WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR FRIENDS TURN ON YOU
There is pain which may cut deeper in the soul than that wound inflicted by the loss of family members. It is the pain which has been inflicted by the betrayal of a close friend. In another Psalm David said plainly "Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me."
We know from the New Testament that this passage contained a prophetic foretaste of the betrayal of Christ by Judas. Hendriksen describes it as someone who eats another's bread and then suddenly turns on him and kicks him. The historical reference is probably to Ahithophel.
He was a private counselor to David but ultimately joined Absalom's conspiracy. David had some indication that something was up with Ahithophel and certainly the Lord Jesus knew something was afoot with Judas. What Judas did was not the frustration of a Divine plan but the fulfillment of a Divine plan.
A Divine plan? That fact is supremely important to remember. Whether it is with David of Jesus Christ, or even you, the betrayal by a trusted friend is still a part of God's Divine plan. Do we really believe that the betrayal by a friend could possibly be a part of the "all things" of Romans 8:28?
Realizing these three important points then the Psalmist directs our steps -
Step One - Seek the Lord (27:4,8)
Step Two - Sing to the Lord (how about Psalm 27 )
Step Three - Serve the Lord (27:9)(no time to quit)
Step Four - See the Lord (27:13) (believing is seeing)
Step Five - Stop for the Lord (27:14) (wait..wait..wait)
Conclusion: When one is under attack or has been forsaken by friends and family, it is difficult to wait. But the believer who would really worship God must STOP (v.14) until he SEES (v.13) the goodness of the Lord. Human disappointments are God's way of bringing us back to Divine appointments.
When looking up it is wise to stop or you will hurt yourself or someone else. When people let you down, stop, look up, and see what the Lord has for you. When people let you down:
WORSHIP God in His house (27:4)
WALK straight before men (27:11)
WAIT until you can see the goodness of God (27:13)