Oh, please help us against our enemies,
for all human help is useless.
American culture prizes self-reliance. We admire those people who pull themselves up by their bootstraps and forge ahead with determination. We want to control our lives and our destinies. When we get in trouble, we expect to help ourselves out of it. To quote a line from a classic Anacin commercial, we’re culturally wired to say, “Mother, please, I’d rather do it myself!”
But, inevitably, we find that our own abilities fall short of what is needed. We face problems that seem insurmountable, challenges that exceed our strength, puzzles that trump our wisdom. In situations like this, we realize that we are not meant to live self-reliantly, but God-reliantly. Yes, God has given us many talents and abilities. But we use these most fully and fruitfully when we rely on God for direction, strength, and salvation.
In Psalm 60, David cries out to God because he has appeared to reject his people (60:1). In anger, God has broken their defenses and been very hard on them (60:1-3). So David calls out to God to rescue his “beloved people” (60:5). In verse 11, he prays, “Oh, please help us against our enemies, for all human help is useless.” The latter phrase could be translated more literally, “For the salvation that comes from human beings is in vain.”
In context, “salvation” in Psalm 60:11 does not refer to eternal things, but to help from the difficult situations in which God’s people find themselves. There are times in life when, after exhausting our own resources, we realize that only God can save us from the mess we have made of our lives. In the bigger picture, we understand that only God can save us from sin and death. This he has done through Jesus Christ, through his life, death, and resurrection.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you think it’s wimpy and weak to rely on God’s help? Why or why not? What encourages you to live each day in reliance upon God’s help and strength?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, how grateful I am that you are our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble (Ps. 46:1). Thank you for all the ways you have saved me in this life, most of all for saving me from sin and death through your grace in Christ.
Teach me how to rely on you in a way that is responsible. I don’t want to use you as an excuse for my own laziness. But I do want to lean upon you for the strength that you alone can supply. When I rely on you, I can be more fully the person you have created me to be.
All praise be to you, O God, my help and my salvation. Amen.
Here’s how . . . .
This devotional comes from The High Calling: Everyday Conversations about Work, Life, and God (www.thehighcalling.org). You can read my Daily Reflections there, or sign up to have them sent to your email inbox each day. This website contains lots of encouragement for people who are trying to live out their faith in the workplace. The High Calling is associated with Laity Lodge, where I work.