‘Let not those who hope in you
be put to shame through me,
O Lord God of hosts;
Let not those who seek you
be brought to dishonor through me,
O God of Israel.’
A bishop I much admired told me that he had this verse of David made into a plaque and set it on his desk to remind him of his greatest fear as a leader of God’s people. I have not made the plaque but have memorized the verse and repeat it to myself often.
There is perhaps no greater fear for a Christian leader than to know that his or her failings and brokenness and sinfulness may have (will have?) a devastating impact on those he or she is called to lead.
For David (and for me) this fear only increases when the strains and stresses of life increases. And for David in this psalm those stresses have risen by an overwhelming degree (read v.1-5).
It is in those circumstances that the subtle messages of the enemy scream for our attention; those powerful temptations to readily ‘deal’ with the presenting stresses.
There is the temptation to compromise – to go along in order to get along; that vain attempt to lessen the tensions that confront you and your people
There is the temptation to despair, and through that despair to become immobilized and ineffective.
There is the temptation to become angry and bitter and even vengeful in our reactions – to become more like our ‘enemy’ than our God.
Finally, there is the temptation to ‘give in and give up’, to either chuck it all or leave, or to fall back on your fallen tendencies to deal with the pain (to fall under the sway of your own former ‘drug of choice’ to mask the pain).
I get David’s predicament and have known it personally for many, many years. And so do you!
You may not think of yourself as a ‘Christian leader’ but you are! You may lead in your work place, or within your family, or within the circle of friends and neighbors and acquaintances that surround you. Every one of us has someone who looks to us for guidance and support. It is those people that should be of concern to us, those that will be hurt by us should we fall to the tempter and his temptations.
So what are we to do? How are we to deal biblically with the temptations and stresses?
Take note what David did:
‘But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD.
At an acceptable time, O God,
In the abundance of your steadfast love
Answer me in your saving faithfulness.’ (v.13)
When the pressures ramp up, David doubles down on prayer!
Why does he do that? Because in his experience, when he does (and does fervently and sometimes over a long period of time – note v14-29), God answers (read with hope v. 30-36).
May the same be said for all of us!
May God grant us the wisdom to so shape our lives that those who hope in God (and look to us) not be put to shame through us!