Those of us who choose to follow Jesus often find ourselves rejected by those who don’t. John said, “Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you” (1 John 3:13, NIV). Do you know how to deal with rejection?
I hate double-minded men, but I love your law. You are my refuge and shield; I have put my hope in your word. Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God! Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed. Uphold me, and I will be delivered; I will always have regard for your decrees. You reject all who stray from your decrees, for their deceitfulness is in vain. All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross; therefore I love your statutes. My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws.
Psalm 119 is an acrostic of the Hebrew alphabet. The Psalmist began every eight verses with the succeeding Hebrew letter. These letters, unlike our English letters, each had a meaning in Jewish culture which would be taught to children as they learned the alphabet.
Each of the preceding verses begins with the letter samekh. The ancient pictograph for samekh first resembled a thorn and had the meaning of “pierce” or “sharp.” As the letter morphed over time it came to look like a shield and is one of only two Hebrew letters that is closed (like an o), so the letter also came to represent the idea of a circle with no beginning or end. Interestingly, the word samekh comes from the root word samech, which means “lean upon,” “uphold,” or “support.”
Don’t you just love how God created an alphabet with words that carry so much meaning, and then inspired the Psalmist to pen verses that reflect those meanings? I mean, God is just so amazing to me!
Notice what the writer said in Psalm 119 about dealing with the rejection of the world: He knew who was his shield and who upheld him, and that’s where he placed his hope.
How about you? When faced with rejection by the world, do you get upset and try to defend yourself or your Savior with well-reasoned arguments? Or do you simply trust in the One who is your shield to defend you?
Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders (Deuteronomy 33:12).
This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible, because it is a promise for those who deal with insecurity. Our security is in the Lord! He shields us from the hurts we face. This verse is a beautiful word picture of God as our Shepherd, because when a sheep was injured, the shepherd would carry it across his shoulders. I have pictured myself there many times, much like a little girl riding on her daddy’s back. That’s security.
And that pictograph of the thorn? I recently read that thorn bushes were used by shepherds to create a shield that would enclose their flocks at night to protect them from predators. That thorn pictograph evolved into the shape of a shield which was rounded like a circle–no beginning and no end. Are you getting this picture?
The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head (John 19:2a).
But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head (Psalm 3:3).
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End (Revelation 22:13).
The thorns that pierced His head and the nails that pierced His hands and feet ushered in the salvation and deliverance that is our shield from the world–our faith.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16).
The world and the enemy will seek to destroy you with flaming arrows, and many times these come in the form of words, accusations, and rejection. You need not fear as long as you fear the Lord and His Word. He will sustain you, uphold you, defend you, strengthen you, support you, and, praise God, He will lift up your head!
So, chin up, beloved. The world may reject you, but the Shepherd’s got you on His back.