Whenever we dig into the Scriptures to gain understanding and grow closer to God, we will take a quick look at three key things:
- what it says about the person and character of God
- what the surrounding context and other scriptures say
- some way we can apply it to our lives
Finally, we will always close with a prayer to bring it all together, humbly seeking understanding and wisdom from the Holy Spirit in relationship to the specific passage.
We encourage you to read along with us and answer these questions for yourself. If you would like suggestions on study tools to go farther on your own, you can find some of our favorites at the bottom of this post.
Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. He will return the evil to my enemies; in your faithfulness put an end to them. With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good. For he has delivered me from every trouble, and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.
What does this passage say about who God is?
God is the “upholder” of my life. God is the One who holds me up. When I think about needing to be held up, images like being supported, prevented from falling and kept on my feet come to mind. I think about someone who is weak or small, like a child, being lifted up off of the ground. As I think about God as Father, I get a picture of being lifted up and put on His shoulders, just like a daddy does with his small children. Lifting and holding someone up off of the ground and helping them not to fall requires great strength, and our God is so strong! Our perfect Heavenly Father is so strong, that reaching down to lift and hold me up is effortless for Him. With strength far greater than my own, God Himself reaches down into my mess, my crumpled heap of weakness, or whatever is dragging me down and He holds me up and helps me out of that mess and trouble.
What is the surrounding context and other Scriptures that tie into this passage?
The first thing I notice is that God is my helper, my defender, my rescuer. There are other scriptures that talk about how I’m not supposed to take vengeance myself because it is His job to take care of me (Deut. 32:35-36, Prov. 20:22). There are also verses that speak directly about His perfect strength in my weakness (2 Cor. 12:9), and how I am to trust Him more than my own understanding (Prov. 3:5-6).
The second thing I notice is the mention of “enemies”. The historical context of the Psalms was one of great chaos and literal death. Fighting or defending against other people was a way of life. It was a rough and dangerous time to be alive. Jesus’ example of grace and love reverses and abolishes the principle of hating and fighting one’s enemies. Jesus instructs us to love one another (John 13:34, Matt. 22:37-39) and, in Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church, he informs us that our battle is not with flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12).
This is not to say that I should stand around and let people beat me up. However, when I do have a problem with a person who is being cruel (acting like an enemy), I should remember that God Himself will deliver me. He will rescue me. I should imitate Jesus, look for the path of love, and let God handle the rest. I do have a very real enemy: the devil. But I do not need to fight him on my own! God is my helper, the upholder of my life. He will deliver me from any and all trouble caused by the presence of evil in my life. Jesus already “put an end” to any and all of Satan’s schemes when He gave His life as a ransom for all.
How does this passage apply to our lives?
As I meditate on God being the upholder of my life, I consider what the opposite of being upheld looks like. When I’m physically or emotionally depressed, it’s difficult to look ahead. Additionally, depression impedes progress and keeps one disadvantaged. In battle, those that are above have a greater advantage over those that are below. So being held up and helped is crucial to our survival! Even better than being “up” is the One who is holding me up: Jesus. It is Jesus that helps me, lifts me up, and holds me up. It is Jesus that has put an end to my sin and delivered me from the trouble that came with it. I don’t have to rely on myself and my strength. His strength is perfect in my weakness. He is the one who delivers me and, in fact, has already delivered me! From my position up on top of His shoulders, I can look “down” on my enemies (pride, anger, ugliness, sickness, all my sin) in triumph! I have been delivered from depression, sickness, unrighteousness, pride, and the list goes on. All of it – with His help.
Almighty, merciful, gracious God: thank You for who You are to us and for us. Thank You for lifting us out of the pit that we too often dig for ourselves. Thank You for lifting us up and carrying us on Your shoulders as a Good Shepherd does. Thank You for rescuing us from the mouths of lions. We praise You because You have the strength to defeat Satan and all of our enemies! Please help us to identify our enemies correctly – those of jealousy, pride, unrighteous anger, and the ways we fall short of loving others. Lord, please especially help us to love one another and never see each other as the enemy. Thank You, Father, for faithfully delivering us from every enemy and equipping us with good armor to stand against Satan’s fiery darts. Thank You, Lord, that You are strong enough both to pick us up and hold us steady while also gaining the victory! Help us to remember You are our strength and You take care of us in every trouble. We want to be strengthened and built up in You and to give You the honor and glory You so deserve. Amen.