O Lord, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”
But you are a shield around me, O Lord,
you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
We all know what it is like to feel judged by others. And what it is like when we judge ourselves. We know how painful it is to feel like we are defective. We know what it is like to be treated–by others and by ourselves–as if we have little or no value. We know what it is like to have people tell us that we have no value in God’s eyes, that “God will not deliver” us.
These experiences are an astonishing contrast to the perspective offered in this psalm. Others may treat us as if we have little value, and we may treat ourselves as if we have little value. But God is a shield around us, God bestows glory on us and lifts up our head.
We may bow our heads in shame, but God lifts up our heads. We may experience voices around us and within us that accuse us or devalue us, but God bestows glory.
Glory is a word that is used in Scripture primarily about God. God’s glory is God’s beauty and splendor. God’s glory is God’s goodness, power and love. So to read this word in relation to ourselves is stunning.
In a later psalm we read that God values humankind so much that God “crowns him with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:5). In the New Testament we read that we are being “transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory.”(2 Corinthians 3:18)
God has not forgotten the beauty, the goodness, the glory which God placed within us. We are created in God’s own image–a great and lasting dignity that nothing can take away. This honor and glory is not something we earn. It is not a prize we can win. It is the gift we have been given by God.
God has not forgotten the glory that has been given to each of us. God shields and protects our worth. God crowns us with glory and honor.
Prayer opens us to the One who is a shield around us, protecting the beauty and worth that God has placed in each of us. Prayer opens us to the One who lifts up our head and bestows honor and glory on us. Prayer is receiving and knowing the glory given to us by God.
There are many voices around me and within me.
Some judge me. Some find me inadequate.
Some tell me that I have no value.
Some tell me that you do not care.
But you, God, shield me.
You know better than anyone how I fail and fall.
You know better than anyone my weakness and pride.
But you have not forgotten the glory,
the light, the beauty that you placed in me
when you made me.
When my head is bowed in shame,
you lift up my head.
You restore my dignity. You affirm my worth.
You bestow honor on me, You crown me with glory.
Help me to experience the glory today.
Help me to be who you made me to be.
Spend some time identifying the judgments you experience from others and from yourself. Notice how these weigh you down and rob you of your sense of dignity and worth. Ask God to help you see and experience the shield of loving protection God places around you. Ask God to allow you to experience having your head lifted up as God crowns you with glory.
Lisa H. says
Thank you so much for this entry in your blog! I definitely can identify with feeling that I have no value, whether it was imposed on me as a child or echoes in my present-day experiences. The contrast with how God shields me and lifts my head up, crowning me with His Glory is so amazing! It is definitely a thought I will carry with me today. Thank you again!
Juanita Ryan says
Thank you, Lisa for sharing your heart. May this beautiful image from this Psalm continue to free and bless you.