For a long period after getting serious about reading/praying the psalms, I would always pause a bit when they mentioned enemies. As far as I know, I do not have any personal enemies, at least not from my point of view. More importantly, as a Christian, Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that we are to love our enemies. So, I did not know what to do or think or feel when I read about “my enemies” in the psalms.
He snatched me from my powerful foe,
from my enemies whose strength I could not match.
They assailed me in the day of my misfortune,
but the Lord was my support.
— Psalm 18:18-19
Back in February, during the depth of my depression, it was easy for me to identify my enemy as depression. Winston Churchill called it the “black dog”. But when the depression subsided and a more normal life resumed, who or what was my enemy now.
In the book Hind’s Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard, an allegory for the spiritual journey, the main character Much Afraid is assailed by her enemies along the path to the High Places. Twice, her enemies tried to confront her directly, even taking her hand at one point in an attempt to lead her back home down to the Valley of Humiliation. She called out for the Chief Shepherd who came immediately to her rescue. Later, her enemies knew better than to try a frontal attack, so they verbally assaulted her from behind rocks and trees as she traveled up her path.
I have now identified my enemies. Her enemies have become my enemies. And now when I read the psalms, I know what the authors truly meant.
By the way, Much Afraid’s enemies were Fear, Pride, Bitterness, Resentment, and Self-Pity. The second and last ones are particularly sneaky.