God's Gracious Protection
I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my
cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.
How does David do it? How can he be patient in the face of danger and death? How can any of us be courageous when we are surrounded by trouble on every side?
When it comes to faith in God’s power to protect and lift up, David is one of the great pillars of the Bible who we look to for inspiration. But David is not the source of his own strength. In his confessional psalm he attributes all joy, goodness, and power to God through the presence of the Holy Spirit (Psalm 51:11).
David knows that without God he would be defenseless against wicked men who “rise up against me, breathing out violence” (Psalm 27:12). Elsewhere, he describes what life feels like without the presence of God: “My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food. Because of my loud groaning I am reduced to skin and bones” (Psalm 102:4–5). With the presence of the Holy Spirit, David has the confidence and courage to transform the impossible into the possible.
The good news is that God has made His Holy Spirit available to each of us through the work of his son for all who accept this extraordinary gift of grace. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8–10). It is the Holy Spirit dwelling within that makes all the difference. In Imitation of Christ, Thomas à Kempis writes that God’s “grace is the mistress of truth, the teacher of discipline, the enlightener of hearts, the comforter of the afflicted, and the refuge of the sorrowing. [God’s] grace banishes sadness, expels fear, nurtures devotion, and breeds tears. Without [God’s] grace, I am but a piece of dry wood—a useless log—fit only to be set aside.”
—Eric Kampmann, Signposts