Saturday's Morning Prayer Psalms and Lessons are still with me.
I used my vacation not only to rest but to pray, study, do some personal assessment and undertake some changes. And of course the Evil One is right on time to harass me. A spiritual guide gave me good counsel a few decades back: "Just think, 'If I were Satan, which of Tim's buttons would I push?' And then figure he's going to push them."
I was praying about this, confessing that I let the spiritual attacks distract me from God's many blessings and purpose for my life. And then the Morning lessons gave me great help:
Psalm 108:12-13, Grant us your help against the enemy, for vain is the help of man. With God we will do valiant deeds, and he shall tread our enemies under foot.
It was Saint Ignatius who described the devil as "the enemy of human nature." So these Psalm verses lifted my spirit as I recognized that God is our help against our persistent and crafty enemy. I am sure that Saint Paul was thinking of this Psalm when he wrote, "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet" (Romans 16:20). Not just a generic assurance that "good will win in the end," but a promise to help us walk all over this spiritual enemy.
Then came a reading from II Samuel 16. As King David slinks out of Jerusalem to avoid his upstart son, a guy named Shimei, a relative of the king that God had removed to promote David, comes out cursing.
Starting at verse 5, Shimei does a pretty good version of hasatan (Hebrew for "the accuser" - Satan is actually an epithet, not a name):
"Out! Out! Murderer! Scoundrel! The Lord has avenged on all of you the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, disaster has overtaken you; for you are a man of blood."
Shimei takes the blessing that God gave to David and portrays it as something evil. This is one of The Accuser's best tricks. He tries to shame us about anything good we've received from God's hand; to make all look ugly and accursed.
What is the outcome of Shimei's rant? At verses 13-14 we read, So David and his men continued along the road while Shimei was going along the hillside opposite him, cursing as he went and throwing stones at him and showering him with dirt. The king and all the people with him arrived at their destination exhausted. And there he refreshed himself.
David "refreshed himself." Pelted with rocks and curses and dirt, David turned to one of his own best lyrics, Psalm 23:5.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
When the Evil One screams at us, God ignores his noise, hears our prayers and drowns him out with a still, small voice of love.
When The Accuser launches an attack, God marches our clumsy feet into a counterattack that stomps Satan down.
Then God serves up a feast to make up for the leanness that the devil sent into our souls. God washes away the grime of Satan's antics and perfumes us with new life. God pours a cup of mercy, the blood of Christ, and from it we drink away all memory of the devil's corruption in our lives.