Updated and expanded from a post dated July 14, 2018
Some birds instinctually build their nests in places that are up against a wall for shelter and support. However, people often use the expression “up against the wall” to describe feeling trapped with no way out of a situation. I would like to offer a different perspective for when we feel “up against a wall,” thanks to our feathered friends and Scripture.
2The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
10The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. Psalm 18:2,10 ESV
The Lord is a place where we can run to seek His protection. He is our Rock. Refuge. Strong Tower. When we stand up against Him we are not trapped, but safe. If we continue to read through Psalm 18 (v. 28-40) we see that:
* God lights our lamp
* Lightens our darkness.
* Enables us to run against a troop,
* And leap over a wall.
* His way is perfect;
* The word of the LORD proves true;
* He is a shield for all those who take
refuge in him.
* For who is God, but the LORD?
And who is a rock, except our God?
* He equips us with strength and makes
our way blameless.
* He makes our feet like the feet of a deer
and sets us secure on the heights.
* He trains our hands for war, so that our
arms can bend a bow of bronze.
* He gives us the shield of His salvation,
* His right hand supports us.
* His gentleness makes us great.
* He gives a wide place for our steps
under us, and our feet do not slip.
* We pursue our enemies and overtake
them, and do not turn back till they are
* We thrust them through, so that they are
not able to rise; they fall under our feet.
* For He equips me with strength for the
* He makes those who rise against me
sink under me.
* He makes our enemies turn their backs
* And those who hate us we destroy.
There are many battles raging here in 2020. The Covid-19 virus, racial injustice, masks vs no masks, natural disasters, global political upheaval, terrorism, sex trafficking, hunger, religious persecution and execution, you name it. It all seems so overwhelming on a global scale. Even just in the U.S. or in our own corner of it. What can we do?
The battles David fought were actual physical, flesh and blood battles. Most of us will never fight in battles like that. But we can take David’s Psalms as an analogy for the spiritual warfare that we do fight, or should be in there fighting, every day. If we are feeling overwhelmed and brain-fried it’s probably because we’re not facing the battlefield. Get alone, on a chair, on your knees, on your face, with your Bible and seek the Lord. This IS how we fight our battles. Face them, head on, in prayer.
God, our Rock and Refuge, is not a place to hide and cower, but a place to be trained and prepared for the battles to come while being protected. Not only is He our shelter, He is our Commander, our drill sargeant, and the one who goes before us leading the charge into battle. Yes, He fights for us [Exodus 14:14. Deuteronomy 3:22].
So maybe the birds’ instincts aren’t so bad. Up against the wall, with the Lord, is a good place to be. After all, His armor [Ephesians 6:10-18] is made to cover just the front of the body. No need to have a rear exit for escape. We are to stand firm in faith and trust, looking the enemy square in the eye, knowing we are armed and ready because the Lord is with us.
If we don’t feel ready, we need some one-on-one time with our Rock and in His Word, soaking in His radiance and gathering strength in soul and spirit, so we are able to wield the weapons of our warfare with His power, in praise with thanksgiving.
David knew what it was like to have the power of God working within Him. As a youth he had defeated the lion and the bear. He also knew what it felt like to feel overwhelmed. But he knew that in those moments He had a place to run for help, hope, and strength beyond his own.
So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah.
1 Samuel 16:14 NLT
God had given David a promise and dream when Samuel anointed him to be king, but their were many years and troubles between the anointing and the coronation. God created each of us unique with a plan and purpose for our lives. He may not have sent a prophet or priest to your house to anoint you with oil, but every breath you take is purpose and you are “anointed” by the calling God has placed on your life and gifting He had imparted to you to fulfill that purpose and plan that had existed just for you since before creation.
When David found himself “up against a wall” of hardship, he knew God was the source of His power and skill and the only place to run when he was overwhelmed by his circumstances. It was there he found the strength and courage to keep moving, to do things that he could not possibly do without the power of the Lord with him and within him.
I love how in the midst of this 50 verse Psalm about God’s conquest with David in battle is verse 35, “… your gentleness made me great.” Wow! It’s not the battles that make us great. It is how we handle ourselves in the battles and the rest of the time as well. Maybe it was that gentleness that caused David to refrain from taking Saul’s life himself [1 Samuel chapters 24, 26]. Though God’s favor had been removed from Saul, he had been anointed by God and David refused to kill God’s anointed one. There were those that encouraged David to kill Saul. No person would have blamed him for doing so, BUT GOD was testing David’s faith and trust in Him. David knew God would take care of Saul in His timing. It was not for David to take his life. He just needed to keep trusting God’s timing, protection, and provision.
We need to learn to follow the Lord in the same way. All too often we think so small. We need to learn that He is our Strong Tower, the place where we always find shelter and safety, even when the world seems to be closing in on us. “Up against the wall”, our uncomfortable place, is the place where He is and where we will find peace. It is in the “uncomfortable” that we grow and get to know Him even better. It is here God will train us for the battles we have ahead, too. He will equip us with the weapons we need (through the Word, prayer, and in communion with Him) to enable and empower us to go forth and face the enemy knowing He has equipped us with strength, trained our hands for war, given us the shield of His salvation, supports us with His right hand, and has made us great by His gentleness.
David started this Psalm as a song of praise for the defeat of his enemies with the words, “I love you, O LORD, my strength.” Throughout the next 44 verses he recounts how God has trained him and fought for him. Now, beginning in verse 46, David closes the song with praises and exaltation. “The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation—”
I just love David’s Psalms. The flow of emotion from danger and despair, to trust and obedience, and joy and praise. The neverending trust in God, even in the most dire of circumstances – back against the wall; or hold up in a cave, as David often was in his flight from Saul.
Faith and trust bring us to our Strong Tower for the refuge we need. Jesus Himself beckons us to come to Him when we are weary and burdened so we can find rest (shelter from the storms of life) [Matthew 11:28-30]. Paul tells us, Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. [Romans 12:2 NLT]. That is a continual process, as we need to always be in the Word. However, even more so in times of stress and battle, when the world seems to be closing in and is loud with so many voices, we need to get still before the Lord and let Him speak to us with the Word of truth to guide us, sure, through uncertain times. Paul also reminds us to think about whatever is:
worthy of praise [Philippians 4:8].
Keeping our thoughts on the things of God, things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely…helps us to keep our wits about us in the throes of battle. We have no confusion, doubts or fears. Our cause is sure, our mission is clear.
5Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
6in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
7Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
Proverbs 3:5-7 BSB
11But you, O man of God, flee from these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession before many witnesses.
1 Timothy 6:11-12 BSB
7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:7 BSB
6Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, so that in due time He may exalt you. 7Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
8Be sober-minded and alert. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in your faith and in the knowledge that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.
1 Peter 5:6-9 BSB
13Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. 14And do everything with love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NLT
19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:20 ESV
These six passages do a good job of summarizing key points of Christian living and our mission. They’re a good place to start. I would have to copy nearly the whole of Scripture to get it all. The Peter and passages are particularly important. We must remain humble, realizing we always need God. We are never equipped to go it alone. We are always meant to be united with Jesus’ Spirit in all we do. And when people quote the James passage they have a tendency to forget the submit to God part and go right to resist the devil. Ahem. We must submit to God, so we have the power to resist the devil and make him flee. He’s not afraid of us. We need Gods power to make him and his minions run.
If we are wise we will live as David did, “I have set the LORD always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken” [Psalm 16:8 BSB]. With the Lord as our Strong Tower behind us, as our guiding light before us, and as the strength of our hand we cannot fail. So you see, since God’s plan has always been to equip us for frontal attack, we never need fear having our back to the wall. He has our back covered. We can stand firm and strong for He has us surrounded with His presence, strength, love, and grace [Psalm 139:5]. Let’s build our “nests” (our lives) on the Strong Tower, our Rock and Refuge. There we will be secure and ready for storms and battles that come. When they do come, we will be ready to come out armed and ready, because we have used the time in the stronghold to prepare for battle.
Pray this Psalm:
1Keep me safe, O God,
for I have come to you for refuge.
2I said to the LORD, “You are my Master!
Every good thing I have comes from you.”
3The godly people in the land
are my true heroes!
I take pleasure in them!
4Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods.
I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood or even speak the names of their gods.
5LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine.
6The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance!
7I will bless the LORD who guides me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
8I know the LORD is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
9No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety.
10For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy oned to rot in the grave.
11You will show me the way of life,
granting me the joy of your presence
and the pleasures of living with you forever. Psalm 8:1-11 (all) NLT
All glory to God!
Praise the Lord! Amen.
Blessings of Hope & Joy,
©2020 Julia Melatis, Hope & Joy Ministries All rights reserved.
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Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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