Friends, nothing reveals and proves true friendship, true fidelity to someone, like a willingness to suffer with or for him. I will often say that I’m truly thankful for the ever growing hostility our culture manifests toward Christianity. “How so?” you may ask. Well, I’m thankful because it ultimately clarifies our actual situation. It more fully reveals who’s really a follower of Jesus Christ.
When it is easy—or even beneficial!—to call yourself by the name of Christ then many people will pour into local churches and jump into membership classes, but when it costs them something—comfort, pleasure, reputation, career success—then play-believers stop coming, and the true Church become ever more visible.
So rejoice when you’re counted worthy to share in the sufferings of Christ since it reveals something of the authenticity of your faith.
As for God, his way is perfect. The word of Yahweh is tried. He is a shield to all those who take refuge in him. For who is God, except Yahweh? Who is a rock, besides our God, the God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect? He makes my feet like deer’s feet, and sets me on my high places. He teaches my hands to war, so that my arms bend a bow of bronze. You have also given me the shield of your salvation. Your right hand sustains me.
The king rejoices in your strength, Yahweh! How greatly he rejoices in your salvation! You have given him his heart’s desire, and have not withheld the request of his lips. For you meet him with the blessings of goodness. You set a crown of fine gold on his head. He asked life of you, you gave it to him, even length of days forever and ever. His glory is great in your salvation. You lay honor and majesty on him. For you make him most blessed forever. You make him glad with joy in your presence. For the king trusts in Yahweh. Through the loving kindness of the Most High, he shall not be moved. Your hand will find out all of your enemies. Your right hand will find out those who hate you. You will make them as a fiery furnace in the time of your anger. Yahweh will swallow them up in his wrath. The fire shall devour them. You will destroy their descendants from the earth, their posterity from among the children of men. For they intended evil against you. They plotted evil against you which cannot succeed. For you will make them turn their back, when you aim drawn bows at their face. Be exalted, Yahweh, in your strength, so we will sing and praise your power.
I will sing of the loving kindness of Yahweh forever. With my mouth, I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. I indeed declare, «Love stands firm forever. You established the heavens. Your faithfulness is in them.» «I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David, my servant, ‘I will establish your seed forever, and build up your throne to all generations.’» The heavens will praise your wonders, Yahweh; your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies can be compared to Yahweh? Who among the sons of the heavenly beings is like Yahweh, a very awesome God in the council of the holy ones, to be feared above all those who are around him? Yahweh, God of Armies, who is a mighty one, like you? Yah, your faithfulness is around you. You rule the pride of the sea. When its waves rise up, you calm them. You have broken Rahab in pieces, like one of the slain. You have scattered your enemies with your mighty arm. The heavens are yours. The earth also is yours; the world and its fullness. You have founded them. The north and the south, you have created them. Tabor and Hermon rejoice in your name. You have a mighty arm. Your hand is strong, and your right hand is exalted. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Loving kindness and truth go before your face. Blessed are the people who learn to acclaim you. They walk in the light of your presence, Yahweh. In your name they rejoice all day. In your righteousness, they are exalted. For you are the glory of their strength. In your favor, our horn will be exalted. For our shield belongs to Yahweh; our king to the Holy One of Israel. Then you spoke in vision to your saints, and said, «I have bestowed strength on the warrior. I have exalted a young man from the people. I have found David, my servant. I have anointed him with my holy oil, with whom my hand shall be established. My arm will also strengthen him. No enemy will tax him. No wicked man will oppress him. I will beat down his adversaries before him, and strike those who hate him. But my faithfulness and my loving kindness will be with him. In my name, his horn will be exalted. I will set his hand also on the sea, and his right hand on the rivers. He will call to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation!’ I will also appoint him my firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. I will keep my loving kindness for him forevermore. My covenant will stand firm with him. I will also make his seed endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven. If his children forsake my law, and don’t walk in my ordinances; if they break my statutes, and don’t keep my commandments; then I will punish their sin with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. But I will not completely take my loving kindness from him, nor allow my faithfulness to fail. I will not break my covenant, nor alter what my lips have uttered. Once have I sworn by my holiness, I will not lie to David. His seed will endure forever, his throne like the sun before me. It will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky.» But you have rejected and spurned. You have been angry with your anointed. You have renounced the covenant of your servant. You have defiled his crown in the dust. You have broken down all his hedges. You have brought his strongholds to ruin. All who pass by the way rob him. He has become a reproach to his neighbors. You have exalted the right hand of his adversaries. You have made all of his enemies rejoice. Yes, you turn back the edge of his sword, and haven’t supported him in battle. You have ended his splendor, and thrown his throne down to the ground. You have shortened the days of his youth. You have covered him with shame. How long, Yahweh? Will you hide yourself forever? Will your wrath burn like fire? Remember how short my time is! For what vanity have you created all the children of men! What man is he who shall live and not see death, who shall deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? LORD, where are your former loving kindnesses, which you swore to David in your faithfulness? Remember, LORD, the reproach of your servants, how I bear in my heart the taunts of all the mighty peoples, With which your enemies have mocked, Yahweh, with which they have mocked the footsteps of your anointed one. Blessed be Yahweh forevermore. Amen, and Amen.
An oracle is within my heart about the disobedience of the wicked: «There is no fear of God before his eyes.» For he flatters himself in his own eyes, too much to detect and hate his sin. The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit. He has ceased to be wise and to do good. He plots iniquity on his bed. He sets himself in a way that is not good. He doesn’t abhor evil. Your loving kindness, Yahweh, is in the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God. Your judgments are like a great deep. Yahweh, you preserve man and animal. How precious is your loving kindness, God! The children of men take refuge under the shadow of your wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the abundance of your house. You will make them drink of the river of your pleasures. For with you is the spring of life. In your light shall we see light. Oh continue your loving kindness to those who know you, your righteousness to the upright in heart. Don’t let the foot of pride come against me. Don’t let the hand of the wicked drive me away. There the workers of iniquity are fallen. They are thrust down, and shall not be able to rise.
Hear, Yahweh, my righteous plea; Give ear to my prayer, that doesn’t go out of deceitful lips. Let my sentence come forth from your presence. Let your eyes look on equity. You have proved my heart. You have visited me in the night. You have tried me, and found nothing. I have resolved that my mouth shall not disobey. As for the works of men, by the word of your lips, I have kept myself from the ways of the violent. My steps have held fast to your paths. My feet have not slipped. I have called on you, for you will answer me, God. Turn your ear to me. Hear my speech. Show your marvelous loving kindness, you who save those who take refuge by your right hand from their enemies. Keep me as the apple of your eye. Hide me under the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who oppress me, my deadly enemies, who surround me. They close up their callous hearts. With their mouth they speak proudly. They have now surrounded us in our steps. They set their eyes to cast us down to the earth. He is like a lion that is greedy of his prey, as it were a young lion lurking in secret places. Arise, Yahweh, confront him. Cast him down. Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword; from men by your hand, Yahweh, from men of the world, whose portion is in this life. You fill the belly of your cherished ones. Your sons have plenty, and they store up wealth for their children. As for me, I shall see your face in righteousness. I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with seeing your form.
Yahweh says to my LORD, «Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool for your feet.» Yahweh will send forth the rod of your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of your enemies. Your people offer themselves willingly in the day of your power, in holy array. Out of the womb of the morning, you have the dew of your youth. Yahweh has sworn, and will not change his mind: «You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.» The LORD is at your right hand. He will crush kings in the day of his wrath. He will judge among the nations. He will heap up dead bodies. He will crush the ruler of the whole earth. He will drink of the brook in the way; therefore he will lift up his head.
If it had not been Yahweh who was on our side, let Israel now say, if it had not been Yahweh who was on our side, when men rose up against us; then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their wrath was kindled against us; then the waters would have overwhelmed us, the stream would have gone over our soul; then the proud waters would have gone over our soul. Blessed be Yahweh, who has not given us as a prey to their teeth. Our soul has escaped like a bird out of the fowler’s snare. The snare is broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of Yahweh, who made heaven and earth.