Advent Devotionals - December 1st

“Unto thee, O Lord, lift I up my soul; O my God, in thee have I trusted, let me not be confounded neither let mine enemies triumph over me; for all they that look for thee shall not be ashamed.”
Most scholars attribute Psalm 25, from which this text comes, to King David.  When he spoke, then, of enemies, he was most likely referring to those who were seeking to cause his downfall and ruin, to take away the throne from him.

So how did David believe the Lord would deliver him?

As you read the full psalm, the answer becomes quite clear.  “Lead me in your truth…remember not my sins…pardon my guilt…may integrity and uprightness preserve me.”
David sees his deliverance coming from the Lord’s forgiveness of his sins and from leading a faithful and righteous life.  In other words, he isn’t doing whatever he wants and then asking the Lord to clean up the mess.  In fact, David seems most concerned to make sure that he is right before the Lord - that he is not knowingly, or unknowingly, sinning against the Lord.  He believed that if he was right before the Lord, that he could rest in God’s care.

That’s part of what made David a man after God’s own heart.  His desire was to love the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love his neighbor as himself.  It doesn’t mean that David was perfect in doing so, but that the great desire of his life was to love God and neighbor.  When he failed, when he sinned, he would immediately repent and return to the Lord.  Being a man after God’s own heart does not mean being perfect, but being intent upon putting God first.

Few of us are likely dealing with the kind of enemies David was referring to.  After all, we aren’t the ruler of a nation.  But we do still deal with enemies.
Sometimes we have enemies who are against us in school or at work.  People who either actively and unashamedly seek to undermine and attack us, or who do so behind closed doors, secretly sowing seeds of destruction.

Sometimes our enemies are people who are very close to us, people we can’t always get out of our lives.  They know how to hurt us and take every opportunity to exploit that knowledge.

Sometimes we are our own enemies.  Our self-talk tears into us and always cuts us down.  We doubt ourselves, or sometimes even hate parts of ourselves in a way that hurts and harms us.
But our greatest enemy, Scripture tells us, is death.  The specter of death threatens to make our lives meaningless, to snuff out any significance that our lives may have.

The good news of the gospel, though, is that Jesus, through His death and resurrection, has vanquished our great and final enemy.  As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “[Jesus] must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:25-26).  And what that means, ultimately, is that every other enemy, even ourselves, has been disarmed.  We have been forgiven our sins and the Holy Spirit is with us to empower us to love God and neighbor in a way that leads to the fullness of life.

As we keep this Advent, we are reminded that Jesus came at Christmas to open the way to eternal life, and He will come again to finish that work and finally destroy death and sin.  Because of Jesus, we will never be confounded, “for if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31b)

Fr. Karl Dietze

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