The Daily Office: Day 20- Panic
1 In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, "Flee like a bird to your mountain, 2 for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; 3 if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?"
4 The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord's throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. 5 The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. 6 Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. 7 For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds;
the upright shall behold his face.
David faces an existential threat to his reign as king, and his advisors urge him to flee for safety. David is incredulous to their counsel. He says running away would be like a frightened bird flying away to a mountain in panic.
The king believes that God will protect him from his enemies, for he makes the Lord his refuge. God is fully aware of what David is facing and will not abandon him. God loves the righteous king but will judge the wicked. This short Psalm ends with the beautiful picture of the upright witnessing the face of the Lord. Beholding the countenance of his God gives David the courage to stand and reject ungodly counsel.
When panic comes as an unwanted visitor, our first instinct is to run. In fact, it is a natural, primal response. David's advisors think that fleeing from the current threat is the sensible thing to do. David's reaction is very different. He becomes reflective. He ponders God's rock-solid faithfulness. David lives in the presence of God, for the Lord's enduring love is the foundation of His life. He need not panic, for what David faces is but a test. God is in the business of testing the righteous, to refine and strengthen, not to destroy.
The final picture David gives us is the finest. Our reward for standing in faith and living a God-honoring life is to behold the face of God. The Aaronic blessing reflects this as God's ultimate gift to His people.
"Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
What is your first response to panic, flight, or reflection? How does the present pandemic provide opportunities to trust the Lord, make Him your refuge, and see His face?
Lord, the sickness and death that surrounds me can cause me to want to just fly away like a frightened bird. Instead, Lord help me understand that I need not panic for You are my refuge. You will bless the righteous. I will see your face! Amen