The average tenure of a pastor in a Bible-preaching church is said to be between three and four years, prompting the question: “Why? Why do pastors move to a new ministry after serving only a brief time in a local church ministry?”
There are many reasons that might be given, but it is my observation that the central one is the reality that all honeymoons end and the toll of ministry among a people who can be fickle, disloyal and sometimes the source of grievous attacks that are deeply personal in nature. Having served as a staff member for 17 years and a senior pastor for 20, I can attest to the sorrows that often arise from the attacks of those closest to the pulpit…a pastor’s own staff [by the way, I am thankful God has blessed me today with a faithful staff who lift the burdens of ministry rather than add to them].
Scholars believe Psalm 7, titled by one writer the “Song of the Slandered Saint”, was written at a time David was the object of slander and lies from Cush the Benjamite. King Saul was already envious of David’s popularity and Cush the Benjamite used that sin of jealousy as an opportunity to accuse David of treason. It was Cush’s proximity to the throne that gave credence to this slanderer who subtly undermined David’s strained relationship with the king. Already mistrusted by the king, David turned his appeal for justice and vindication to God.
Psalm 7:1-2 – “O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust [my refuge and hope]: save [deliver; help; preserve] me from all them that persecute [pursue; chase] me, and deliver [recover; defend; save] me: 2 Lest he tear [tear in pieces] my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces [break; tear apart], while there is none to deliver [recover; save].
Slander, gossip, lies and disloyalty are often the sorrows borne by God’s servants who are devoted to serve the Lord with integrity. Ours is not to be popular, but faithful. We do not aspire to earthly applause, but to the heavenly commendation, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21, 23).
It was not his body, but his soul that was to endure the attacks of those who would tear and shred his reputation (7:2). Because the attacks of an enemy are often deep and personal, leaders often feel alone as they bear the sorrow of those who align against them. David turned to the Lord in the midst of his sorrow and confessed, “O Lord my God, in thee do I put my trust” (7:1).
David’s cry for justice and vindication is Psalm 7:3-5.
Psalm 7:3-5 – “O LORD my God, if I have done [make; wrought] this; if there be iniquity [wickedness; unrighteousness; injustice] in my hands; 4 If I have rewarded [treat; recompense; compensated] evil [sin; wickedness] unto him that was at peace with me; (yea, I have delivered [take off; plundered] him that without cause [empty; vain] is mine enemy [adversary]🙂 5 Let the enemy persecute [pursue; chase] my soul [life; person], and take [overtake; hold] it; yea, let him tread down [oppress; trample upon] my life upon the earth, and lay [settle] mine honour [glory; reputation] in the dust. Selah.”
I have learned that vindication of one’s life and testimony is often a process of years, not days or months. Protestations of innocence are usually to no avail when some are more willing to believe slander than they are to weigh a life and ministry of years. Accusers attack character and assault one’s testimony, but the righteous must determine to trust the Lord for vindication.
Psalm 7:6-8 – “Arise, O LORD, in thine anger, lift up [remove; depart; carry away] thyself because of the rage of mine enemies: and awake [stir up; raise up; incite] for me to the judgment [sentence; justice] that thou hast commanded [charged; appointed]. 7 So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about: for their sakes therefore return [return again] thou on high [exalted; above; dignity]. 8 The LORD shall judge [plead the cause; execute judgment] the people: judge [plead; avenge; vindicate] me, O LORD, according to my righteousness [justice; rightness before the law], and according to mine integrity [completeness; innocence; blameless] that is in me.”
With humility and confidence in God’s justice, David appealed to God to judge his enemies and vindicate his rightness and integrity.
Psalm 7:9 – “Oh let the wickedness [sin; evil] of the wicked [ungodly; immoral; guilty] come to an end [cease; fail]; but establish [prepare; ready; set up; confirm] the just: for the righteous [just; lawful] God trieth [prove; test; examine] the hearts and reins [i.e. mind; inward parts].”
Someone reading today’s devotional may be on the verge of quitting. You have suffered personal attacks. You are carrying the sorrow of disloyalty from the very ones you trusted. You feel abandoned and alone. I challenge to you to cry out to God as David did in Psalm 7 and know He is a God of justice and will vindicate His servant in due time. Trust the Lord!
Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith