Monday, April 13, 2009

The Soul's Guardian

Psalm 127:1b
“…unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”

I think it would be no improper interpretation to say, on the basis of this text, that the Creator of the cosmos is also the Shepherd of the city. “Unless the Lord guards the city…” He who sees every star in the sky also visits the small village in the valley. He, who buckled the belt on Orion, bends down to behold a Bethlehem. And yet, as I pause upon this passage, I think perhaps more than merely ramparts and roads are meant. Jerusalem may have been in mind. And yet I happen to hold that the Holy Spirit was pointing to more than just a piece of Palestine. By “city” I suspect the Psalmist signifies the soul of man. It is our hearts and souls that need constant “guarding.” The spirit of man is under abiding attack from the world, the flesh, and the devil. “Keep your heart” (Prov. 4:23) is His command. But how shall we succeed when the enemies seemingly outnumber the sand on the shore? “For there were many against me” (Psalm 55:18). We need protection from our Potentate, guarding from our God. “Keep my soul and deliver me” (Psalm 25:20) is our desperate cry.

Dear readers…to whom are you entrusting the protection of your most priceless possession…the city of your soul? Who will watch for you what is worth ten thousand worlds? Who could you confidently confide in as the custodian of that which is infinitely costly? Who shall stand as your soul’s sentry and keep safe that which if ruined can never be regained? “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul?” Surely nothing indeed!

All of my strivings to safeguard my soul have fallen short. Have you not found it so? I rise with pointed purpose to protect the purity of my heart…but profane plans pursue my mind and wicked ways assault my spirit. I try to fix my thoughts on things above, but I’m bombarded by these burdens from below. I want my heart to habitat in heaven, but the arrows of earth’s anxieties pierce my ineffective armor. I seek to fortify a holy frame, but every feeble fence I fashion simply falls. Every temptation seems to take me down. Who is on guard? I seem to succumb to every strike, am taken prisoner by every ploy, defeated by every drive. Who is on guard?

Oh weary watchman…don’t you hear the wisdom of these words? “Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” Unless! Unless! Unless! All your watchfulness is worthless and attentiveness to no avail...UNLESS! Unless the Lord guards the city! All thy earnest efforts end up empty…unless the Lord watches the city. All your precious plans are pointless…if God is not the Guardian of your heart. Turn to Him whose sleepless eyes have never lost a single soul. Commit your case unto His care. Appeal to Him whose people are the apple of His eye.

But how do we engage this glorious Guardian? Pray and pray on. Cry and cry on. Call upon Him in the day of trouble. “Lord, I cry out to You…let my prayer be set before you…set a guard, O Lord! (Psalm 141:1-2)” Prayer is the great enlister of heavenly help. Prayer is our ever-present access to ever-needed assistance. Cries upon earth kindle compassion in heaven! Jesus directed His disciples in this when prescribing this petition: “Deliver us from the evil one.” There is more safety supplied to a single saint upon his knees than could be secured with all walls and weapons of this world. Return to thy rest O my soul, for the Lord is thy Shepherd and Guard! “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)