Collective Worship: Under Siege
The second part of Psalm 23 is sometimes overshadowed by the previous imagery of ‘The Lord is my shepherd’. This resource is about responding to the idea of feeling besieged and surrounded by difficulties.
For this assembly / act of Collective Worship, you will need to slowly construct a ‘castle’ from wooden blocks, or reveal (from under a cloth) a previously constructed model. Placing a single, small human figure (representing David or someone else) at the top will increase the sense of isolation.
You will also need an impressive-looking plate of food and a cup, glass or goblet filled with drink - both fitting a child’s idea of a ‘banquet’.
Imagine you are in a castle (start building the castle and its walls), completely surrounded by enemy soldiers. They are trying to starve you out. They know you will be running out of food and water at some point if they wait long enough - and they are prepared to wait for weeks, months, even years. As far as they are concerned, nobody is going to be sending any help.
This is nothing new. There are places around the world where things like this can still happen. It’s called being ‘under siege’, and, for the defenders, there’s a horrible sense of being trapped. There’s no escape, no help coming. You’re stuck.
Have you ever felt like that? Completely caught up in a problem, and nobody seems to be able to help? Running out of everything you needed to keep going any longer?
Long ago, a soldier called David felt like that. He was a famous warrior who knew what it was like to be an outlaw, a resistance fighter on the run, hiding from his enemies, with nobody to turn to for help. Sometimes, his life was like someone trapped in a besieged castle.
(Add the single human figure to the top of your 'castle'.)
But David didn’t feel completely alone. He believed he could still talk to God about everything. David’s life could sometimes be incredibly lonely and difficult, especially when he made big mistakes. But something in him knew he could always rely on God to be there for him, listening, understanding, giving advice and giving comfort.
He wrote about this in the 23rd Psalm. David felt as if he was in a besieged castle, running out of food and water. And then, suddenly, out of nowhere, God provided... not just a meal but a banquet. David said, ‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.’
(From above, almost like a parachute from a Red Cross mercy flight, bring down a plate with nice child-friendly food on it and a cup or goblet, placing it on or inside the castle.)
It’s as if, when things are looking bad, God tells David, ‘See? I haven’t forgotten you. I’m still there for you. You are still precious to me.'
Perhaps David was feeling really lonely and sad, but then someone cheered him up. He was alone, and then God helped him. Perhaps there was a rescue. Perhaps there was an answer to his problem. Whatever it was, David got through it all, and afterwards, looking back, he said it was like having a banquet being served up for him in a besieged castle.
I wonder if you can think back to a time when you felt like someone in a besieged castle. Were there moments when someone helped? Did they encourage you and get you through it? Perhaps that’s how it was for David. Perhaps you feel a bit besieged now, because of stuff that’s happening. Don’t forget - you still have choices and, most especially, you can share your problem and ask others for advice or help. Part of being strong is knowing when to ask others for help.
So let’s remember all those now who might be feeling like that now. It might be you, or it might be someone known to us, or even people we’ve heard about in the news. And perhaps, who knows- maybe you and I could do something to help in some way. I wonder what it could be? Let’s now be quiet.
Meditation: Let’s close our eyes and bring our hands together to make two walls. Imagine someone feeling trapped inside those walls, like the person in that castle. Now open your hands and lift them, to let the person go free.
Father God, we remember all those feeling surrounded and besieged because life is difficult. Help us to be a good friend if someone is feeling like that. And when life gets tough for us, thank you for promising to be our friend too. Amen