HEBREW WORD STUDY – ABOVE MY ENEMIES – ‘AL ‘AVI על. אבי
Psalms 27:6: “And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.”
‘Adu “aduyi Hooweh Ssadikki – Arabic saying: “My enemy’s enemy is my friend.”
The above saying is very typically related to the Middle East. There are so many people who are enemies against each other that it is really hard to figure out who is your friend and who is your enemy.
Back on the 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbor survivors from the attack on Pearl Harbor, both American and Japanese took grinning photo with their arms around each other. One photo showed a survivor from the Arizona giving the Japanese pilot who dropped a torpedo on the Arizona a hug. Fifty years ago they were enemies and today they are friends. Well, as the pilot said, “We didn’t hate each other, we were just soldiers doing our job.”
So here were are in Psalms 27:6 which tells us that God will lift our heads above our enemies. But, as history has shown, our enemy one day is our friend the next. Maybe God should not be too quick to hold our heads high above our enemies as we may be exalting ourselves over possible friends.
After all, did Jesus not say: “Love your enemies Matthew 5:44?” Yet we are to be exalted over our enemies. Sounds a bit contradictory if we interpret this exalting business as really laying it on our enemies and defeating them. Note the verse does not say: “My head be lifted up above my enemies,” but “My head be lifted up above my enemies around me.”
First, let’s look at this word for enemy. It is ‘oyeb which is a personal enemy. It is one who is hostile against you. They may not be threatening your life, but they are attacking you with words threatening your job or reputation. These are personal enemies who sabib you. Sabib is more commonly used to express the idea of surround or encircling.
Israel and Judah had enemies on their right, the Assyrians, and enemies on their left, the Egyptians. Israel and Judah were caught in the middle. At one point Israel tried to form an alliance with Assyria to help rid them of their enemies from the East, then they tried to form an alliance with the Egyptians to help rid them of the Assyrians. God sent prophets to command them to make no alliance. God was just going to exaltIsrael. Actually, the word exalt is rum in Hebrew which means to lift up. This is a picture of God taking the enemies of Israel and causing them to form a circular firing squad. If Israel does not form an alliance with Assyrian or Egypt then when both nations point their weapons at Israel, God would simply lift them up and they would end up destroying each other. However Hezekiah, even though he destroyed idolatry in Judah, was still disobedient and formed an alliance with Egypt against God’s command and as a result, Sennacherib laid siege on Jerusalem and guess what? Egypt never showed up to help Judah. It was God who gave Sennacherib’s army the trots and forced them to withdraw. If not for God’s intervention Jerusalem would have been starved into surrender. Things might have been different had Hezekiah just obeyed God’s command to not form any alliances but to let Him handle the matter.
God is giving us a promise in this verse concerning our personal enemies. These enemies may encircle us with gossips and lies. Sometimes even those who are closest to us point their weapons at us. On the other side may be other friends or relatives who are also pointing their tongues at us or whatever weapon. God does not promise to destroy them, only to protect us. God’s promise is to simply lift up our heads, lift us above their attacks and suddenly our enemies are facing a circular firing squad. God has a wonderful way of letting our enemies destroy themselves without our intervention. However, if do not wait for God to lift us up, but we try to form an alliance or try to figure out who is a better friend or worse enemy, we may just get blasted.