Briefing: This Psalm is a beautiful picture of the human experience. It is one that I want to mimic but I am not as far in my Christian journey as David seemed to be.
Dispatch (Assignment): Read Psalm 34.
On the Street: In verse 1 David makes the statement, “I will extol the LORD at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.” Is this our goal? Do we actually work towards this or is it just a nice thing to think about? I believe it is possible for us to love God’s Word so much that it is a priority in every thought. In your first year on the job, did you strive to know every law, the geography of your jurisdiction, and the ins and outs of your job? Were you so excited about being in law enforcement that it was always your topic of conversation? Did you tell all your friends the cool stories of what you did at work? This is similar to the kind of excitement we must have about being a part of God’s family. David was so excited that he turned every conversation back to God. God’s praise was always on his lips.
David continues in verse 2 with, “My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.” When people know you are a Christian, they will begin to watch how you act and what you say. You will begin to be judged more harshly than before you confessed Christ. Like being in law enforcement, Christians are held to a higher standard. We are expected to look and act like Christ which leaves little room for selfish, un-Christian behavior. Similarly, law enforcement officers are expected to live a life that follows the law on and off duty. After all, Jesus said that He was the fulfillment of the law, and aren’t we supposed to be imitating Him?
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Verse 3 echoes this sentiment with, “Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt His name together.” Before 9-11, most of the larger city departments across the United States rode two officers to a car. After 9-11, there was a move to put more police vehicles on the street to give a greater appearance of officer presence. I have worked with a partner and have worked solo. In my opinion, there is a difference in how aggressive officers are in their pursuit of crime when working two to a car as opposed to one officer to a car (“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor” – Ecclesiastes 4:9).
“Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt His name together.” This is an invitation and a proposal for us to invite other officers to join us at church, join us in prayer, join us in Bible study, or just have a conversation about what God is doing in our lives.
I was talking to a motor officer awhile back and asked if he had ever gone down on his bike. He said that it was not a question of if, but when; all motor officers lay down their bikes eventually. The same can be said for verse 4. Any officer that has worked the streets has found themselves in a bad spot where they prayed for God to save them. “I sought the LORD, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” What a great word of encouragement!
As we progress in our Christian maturity, we will eventually come to the point where we can boast of our relationship with God, “Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” As we practice living like Christ, we get closer and closer to being able to look like this. If you are like me, a work in progress, you are slowly but surely working to toward this end. Be an example of this daily as you walk out your faith in front of your co-workers. As Christian law enforcement officers, we are to be loving towards non-believers and patient with fellow believers.
“This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; He saved him out of all his troubles.” David could have been writing this verse to any law enforcement officer. We all have examples of how God saved us or someone we know from impending danger. If this was not enough of an encouragement David follows it up with verse 7, “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them.” This is nothing short of awesome! We can have the angel of the LORD encamped around us! Did you realize you had this advantage? This is a benefit of being a Christ follower.
Verse 8 through 10 lists more great encouragement for Christians. They make the point of saying these benefits are for those who “fear the LORD”. Some people don’t sincerely understand what it means to fear the LORD. If you feel this way take heart, verse 11 says, “Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.” The fear of the LORD can be taught by those who honestly seek Him. David follows up with instruction on learning to fear the LORD. Verses 12-13 say, “Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”
As law enforcement, we should already be living a life that is “above and beyond”. Our actions and attitude should be on what is good and honorable.
Verses 15-21 are the kind of encouraging words that every child wants to hear from their father. We are blessed, as Christians, to hear them from a Father who is the most powerful being in existence. “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their cry; the face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all”. Aren’t you glad to be a child of God?
The next to last verse is the Biblical principle of the Law of the Harvest. You may know it better by the saying, “you reap what you sow”; “Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned.” God takes the righteous and evil takes the wicked. Which choice will you make?
Investigational Resources: Psalm 78:5, 1 Peter 3:10-12.
Officer Safety Principle: “The LORD redeems His servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in Him.” Psalm 34:33. All who find salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved.
from Psalms Through the Eyes of a Cop, Volume 1
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
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