Psalm 54:2-4 - O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth. For strangers have risen against me; ruthless men seek my life; they do not set God before themselves. Selah Behold, God is my Helper; the Lord is the Upholder of my life.
At His ascension, Jesus told His disciples that they would be His Spirit-empowered witnesses "in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8b). Jesus' word was fulfilled, and the disciples began their task of witnessing. In the Jerusalem temple, Peter and John proclaimed Jesus' death and resurrection and, in Jesus' Name, brought healing to a man who had been lame from birth. Threatened by their teaching, the religious leaders arrested the disciples and brought them before the ruling council. After giving their testimony, Peter and John were released and ordered to stop preaching about Jesus—a command they could not obey. Gathering with fellow believers, the disciples prayed for boldness in witness, remembering the psalm that spoke of the rulers' hatred for the Messiah: "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against His Anointed" (Acts 4:26).
Jesus experienced the events described in our psalm. Strangers rose against Him. Ruthless men sought successfully to take His life. The religious rulers who plotted Jesus' death believed they were serving God but, in reality, they did not "set God before themselves." In rejecting the Messiah, the Lord's Anointed, they rejected the Father who sent Him. Jesus was condemned to death and sent to the cross. Yet, as the disciples would later say in prayer, the ruthless men did what God's plan "had predestined to take place" (Acts 4:28b). Jesus accomplished the purpose for which He was sent. He died on the cross as the perfect sacrifice to atone for the sins of the world. His resurrection, too, was according to God's plan, an outcome known before the foundation of the world. The plans of ruthless men could not overcome God's plan of salvation.
The prayer of this psalm is the prayer of God's people everywhere. Around the world, Christians suffer persecution as strangers rise up against Jesus' followers and ruthless men seek, often successfully, to destroy them. As kings and rulers united against Jesus, governments and religious leaders unite against those who follow the Savior. Even where there is freedom to believe and worship, Christians may face ridicule and disdain for their beliefs and behavior. We pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who daily face threats to their homes, churches, employment, and lives. With fellow believers, we offer up to the throne of God the prayer of the first disciples: "Lord, look upon their threats and grant to Your servants to continue to speak Your Word with all boldness" (Acts 4:29b). In the face of those who do not set God before themselves, we pray, "I have set the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken" (Psalm 16:8).
THE PRAYER: Almighty God, give courage to those who suffer for Jesus' sake, and make me a bold witness for my Savior. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler.
1. How does God uphold you when life is difficult?
2. What does it mean to say that the Lord is at your right hand?
3. Do you know any places in the world where Christians are persecuted for their faith?
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