Recently I was driving down the highway when I noticed a car to my right quickly pulling over to the shoulder. “What was that about?” I wondered as I caught sight of a tire sailing across three lanes of traffic to pass directly in front of my car. If I had been a couple seconds further down the road, I would have most certainly collided with that escape-artist tire. “You are a shield around me,” I whispered in a sigh of relief.
Now, don’t go thinking I’m super spiritual because I responded with a Bible verse (there were some oh-my-gosh statements in there too). It’s just that I’ve come to learn that God is very much our strength and shield – in moments when we cry out to Him and in moments we’re completely unaware of our need. Reading Psalm 28, we’re not given any real clue about when in David’s life he wrote it, but it’s clear that at the moment it was penned, David was going through Something with a capital S.
He begins by calling to God earnestly and it’s clear David is in deep need of God (verse 1). He’s making pleas and crying for help (verse 2). It seems David is doing his best to follow God, but sees how there are plenty around him who are going about their lives and doing whatever they please (verse 3). David longs for God to swoop in with His justice and make things right (verses 4-5).
Don’t we all want things to be set right? On the outside, we want the Christmas season to be #allthethings: beautiful tree and presents, memory-making with family and friends, slow, worshipful and honoring of the gift that Jesus was and is. But a happy Christmas is not going to set things right. Even all the right elements put together to create the most magical Christmas ever (snow included) won’t set us right. Neither will a new year or a new decade for that matter. Setting things right is a job that only Jesus can do.
David makes a shift in verse six and his pleas turn to praise. “Blessed is the Lord! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.” David is worshipping God – not before all his needs are met, but because he knows who God is: the one we call to and our rock that never moves (verse 1); our personal strength and shield (verse 7); the strength and saving refuge of God’s people collectively (verse 8); our shepherd and carrier forever (verse 9).
Just like David, we are waiting for God to set things right – in our own lives and in the world. We celebrate Christmas as the day that God took a promise that generations of believers had clung to and turned it into reality: He gave us Jesus, a Messiah who would live and die for us, making a way for everyone to know and love God forever. And so this Christmas, no matter what’s going on in our world and in our lives, we know that God will keep His future promises to us. Our longings for things to be set right may not be delivered by Christmas Day, but we do get the opportunity to know Who will – one day – set them right.
While we wait, we can remember and experience the One who will set everything right. Go back and read verses 6-9 again. Among many other things, God is the one we can call to, our rock, our personal strength and shield, the strength and saving refuge of God’s people, our shepherd and carrier forever. As we wait for things to be made right, we have a God who bears the hurt and longing of the wait with us. We have a God that we can trust with our whole hearts. We can know that our prayers reach His ears and He’s with us to the very end – until the day when all things are absolutely, truly, completely made right.
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! – Revelation 22:20