Briefing: When I went to work for DFW Airport PD, I was shocked by the change of pace. I knew it would be different from the “running and gunning” I was used to in South Dallas but I was not aware of how drastic the change would be. Within the first month my DFW FTO told me I needed to change my daily objectives from “swift and harsh justice” to a goal of finding one person who I can help. This is not the advice a 24 year old, gung-ho officer wants to hear. All the same, it made a positive impact on the way I treated people from that point on.
Dispatch (Assignment): Read Psalm 41.
On the Street: “Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the LORD delivers him in times of trouble. The LORD will protect him and preserve his life; He will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desires of his foes. The LORD will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness.”
These first three verses of this Psalm speak to the blessings of those who have regard for the weak. Is this not an underlying theme of law enforcement? We keep evil and bullies at bay. We protect those who are the targets of the wicked. Can we just claim this Psalm and its blessing as ours?
Not so fast; there is one element to this Psalm that must be understood by those who seek to receive these blessings. God is not talking about someone who is just doing their job. God is speaking of someone who is loving well. “Regard” is defined as, “to take into account; to consider; to give attentive heed or respect to; to hold in affection and respect; as, he regards his brothers highly” – Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary.
In law enforcement, we sometime forget about the individual and go through the motions until we meet our requirements for completing the call. We try not to get emotionally involved to keep us from getting hurt. These blessings are only available to those who are willing to love the person they are helping, not out of obligation.
This is a prayer. David reminds God that he has shown love to the helpless. He has had regard for the weak. To see him move from this act of kindness and compassion to a cry for help in verse 4 don’t seem to fit. It does not make sense unless you look at it through the lens of Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy”. David is counting on God’s mercy to pull him through.
In verse 4 we see that David is in trouble again. He is the subject of hate, slander and attacks. The enemy and even his closest friends are trying to destroy him. “I said, “O LORD, have mercy on me; heal me, for I have sinned against you.” David’s cry for mercy ties verses 1-3 to 4-8.
Verse 9 gets me every time. David has a very close friend who has betrayed him. “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” Jesus will later use this verse to describe the betrayal of Judas in John 13:18. In verse 10, we see David cry out for God’s mercy again.
We need to take great comfort in verse 11. David says, “I know that you are pleased with me, for my enemy does not triumph over me.” Can you relate to this? I can. I may be under attack from the enemy but he has not defeated me. It is not because I am stronger or smarter but because I have God as my Father. Our Father loves us and protects us.
Now for verse 12, “In my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever.” This is the key for the blessing. David did not show mercy to the weak just because it was his job. There was sincerity in his intentions. This is integrity. He did it because he meant it and now he will be blessed for it. This is such an easy fix. Instead of looking at the person with the flat tire as an inconvenience we should have such an attitude that we recognize the opportunity to have mercy and compassion on that individual. God gives us those opportunities for a reason.
Investigational Resources: Proverbs 29:14, 31:8-9. John 13:18.
Officer Safety Principle: “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy” – Matthew 5:7
from Psalms Through the Eyes of a Cop, Volume 1
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
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