I was reading through Psalm 18 recently, and landed on the thought of God being my “Deliverer”. The more I poked around in the psalm, and just hung out with that one idea – God is my Deliverer – the more things I discovered.
The first three verses of the psalm reminded me that God has delivered me already time and time again, though I hardly ever acknowledge it. Verses 4-6 teach another lesson: if I won’t acknowledge the times God has delivered me in the past, then I should at least admit that I need God’s deliverance from this point moving forward.
David writes: “The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help.”
David made no bones about it: he needed saving. Did you notice all the verbs and images he uses. Entangled. Overwhelmed. Snared. Distressed.
Work with me for just a moment, you who think that you don’t need deliverance from anything. Are you so sure about that?
Try danger, disease and death on for size. Do you have any conception at all how fragile your life is? Conservationist John Muir described squirrels as “little sparks of life”. But that’s all you and I are. Just little sparks of life.
And there are a 1,001 ways for that spark to be extinguished. Tell me honestly, how much control do you really think you have over your life? Can you control what that car up ahead of you is going to do? Can you control what the financial markets are going to do next week? Can you control what the cells and blood vessels in your body are doing right now? Jesus pointed out that we can’t even control the number of hairs on our head.
That’s all you and I are. Just little sparks of life.
But it’s not just deliverance from physical harm that we need. That’s the least of it.
We also need deliverance from evil that’s outside of us. There’s a whole spiritual side to life that so few anymore seem to be aware of, from which we need deliverance. The Bible says we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Deny the devil’s existence all you want; it still won’t prevent him from working to make your life a ruin.
And then we need deliverance from what the Bible calls “sin”. We need deliverance not only from the evil that’s outside of us, but also from the evil that’s inside of us.
It’s at work in you right now. Do you think that man who murdered his wife and kids the other day, then took his own life, thought on his wedding day that this was how it all would end up? So what took him there?
Be careful that you too quickly lay the blame for this at the feet of mental illness. If we’re not talking about an actual biochemical condition, then what often is labeled “mental illness” is actually just the final stop on a journey of internal disintegration that actually begins much earlier.
What takes us there? Unchecked anger. Relentless pride. Uncorralled lust. Unchallenged bitterness. Unresisted unforgiveness. In short, sin, from which we need deliverance.
What often is labeled “mental illness” is actually just the final stop on a journey of internal disintegration that actually begins much earlier.
Maybe that could never happen to you, you think. But sin’s a cancer. Let it sit there, it will fester and grow. Better to admit up front where you feel entangled, overwhelmed, or ensnared. Admit where your weaknesses are. Then whisper quietly under your breath, “Lord, deliver me from evil.”