Hark, Hark the Dogs Do Bark
“At evening they return, they growl like a dog...” (Psalm 59:6,14)
Many years ago,, when I was a college student, my father and I hiked through a portion of the Big Bend country of Texas. The Big Bend is a national park now, but in those days it was rough country.
One night we were rolling out our sleeping bags when a couple with a dog asked if they could camp nearby. We welcomed their company and turned in for the night. They tethered their dog to a stake beside their tent.
Some hours later my father nudged me awake and turned his flashlight into the darkness. There, illuminated by the light, we saw pairs of luminous, yellow eyes peering out of the shadows. We were surrounded by a pack of coyotes, some sitting on their haunches staring at the dog; others snapping and snarling, closing in on the terrified animal. Needless to say, though we chased off the coyotes and our neighbors put the dog in their tent, we all slept less well that night.
I think of that incident now and then when I read Psalm 59 and David’s twice-repeated imagery: “At evening they return, they growl like a dog.”
David, of course, was thinking of Saul and his armies that were closing in on him. I think, however, of our own thoughts that return in the evening to menace us. “Back they come at nightfall, snarling like curs” (NJB). They snap and snarl at us: “You’re defective.” “You’re stupid.” “You’re a failure.” “You’re old and useless.” “Who needs you?”
At that moment we can panic or turn our hearts to heaven and revel in God’s unconditional affection. He wants us! He needs us! He loves us beyond measure. His steady devotion is our refuge in the dark night of self-doubt and fear (vs. 16). We can say with David, “My stronghold is God, the God who loves me faithfully!” (vs. 17 NJB).
So, in the hour of darkness, when cruel thoughts creep out of the shadows to threaten you, “Keep yourself in the love of God” (Jude 21).