Enemies as a Footstool

Pinnable image of woman stepping on step stool, Come Follow Me

August 22-28

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Many of the Psalms are attributed to King David. One of the interesting things about King David is that he was known as a man of war. He was quite literally surrounded by enemies on all sides. It is only appropriate that many of the Psalms speak of enemies. And though I’m sure there are times that David recognizes the true enemy is evil-doing, I’m sure there are also times when David was quite literally pleading for help when it came to mortal enemies surrounding Israel.

Psalm 110:1 The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

Often when we talk about enemies in Psalms, we are discussing deliverance from them. We don’t want to be captured by them permanently (or preferably at all). This particular verse is just a little bit different though. Instead of speaking of deliverance, we are speaking about enemies becoming footstools. 

Now, I recognize that I’m taking this phrase out of the context of the whole verse and chapter, but the last phrase of this verse would not stop speaking to me.

There is a lot of significance around the idea of a footstool in the bible. The footstool can have many meanings, and different verses imply different concepts surrounding the footstool. Interestingly enough, I think we can apply many of these concepts to this individual verse.

Footstool as an ultimate end

Having to touch feet or wash feet was seen as dishonorable. It was a dirty job for lowly servants, and so the symbolism here seems quite obvious. The enemies of Christ will be seen for what they truly are. In the book of James, we see a rebuke towards those who favor the wealthy while requiring the poor to sit by the footstool.

It is only right that those who oppressed others will ultimately find themselves in the same oppressed circumstances they forced upon others.

I believe that this is the main symbolism we see when we take a cursory glance at this verse.

I believe in the justice of God. I believe that we will find differing amounts of happiness according to who we became in this life, and I think that the previous symbolism is accurate.

However, I also believe that the symbolism dives deeper. I also believe that deeper symbolism has a lot to teach us about ourselves and our own preparedness to live with God.

Footstool as a step for our enemies

As humans, we tend to paint the world as black and white. There are people on the good side and people on the bad side. If we were to watch a movie that represented a simplified version of mortality, we might reach the end and rejoice over the evil-doers being placed at the footstool. We would cheer as the righteous triumphed and flourished, and we would be proud of our rejoicing. After all, the good guys are always supposed to beat the bad guys.. 

Interestingly enough, the greatest joy should come when the “bad” guys repent. We should yearn for their repentance in the same way we often yearn for the bad guys to “lose.”

Rather than looking at the footstool as an ultimate end where our “enemies” receive what is due, we could look at the footstool as just one more tool to help another of Heavenly Father’s children return to Him. Perhaps we’ve made mistakes that have put us at odds with some of Heavenly Father’s other children; perhaps we have been the “enemies” who have been placed at our own footstools a couple of times where we’ve realized the need to repent.

Footstool as a litmus test

None of us want to expel God’s justice where it is due. However, our desires for “justice” may be a signal that we still have a little repenting to do. Our desires surrounding our enemies and their place at the footstool is an excellent litmus test for our own spirituality.

When we think of our own mortal “enemies,” do we envision the day where they reap what they will sow? Do we get excited when we think that one day, they will stand before God and be struck down to sit at that footstool? Do we proudly believe that we’re Christlike for “letting go” of our grievances because the Lord will take care of our enemies later? Or, instead, do we hope that there will be enough footstools along the way that they turn around and truly change?

When we step back and look at the Lord and His stake in mortality, we realize that the Lord wants all of us to be on the winning side, the good side. He wants all of us to come to the end of our lives and find triumph even if He knows that will not be the case. 

Even the enemies of David are people that the Lord loves.

This kind of forgiveness, charity, and feeling is not always an easy point to reach. Heaven knows that this post is rebuking me thoroughly, and a lot of my grievances can be petty. It is truly difficult to reach a point where you hope for the prodigal return of your enemies, and sometimes it’s even difficult to recognize that you haven’t reached that point yet.

I think a lot of us can stand back and think, “Yes. I believe in the atonement. I hope that they repent; I truly do.” And yet, in the day to day innermost thoughts, we see only the negative in our supposed enemies. We see their various flaws and think we’re righteous for being polite to them.

I think it’s appropriate to recognize toxicity and to sometimes even step away from harmful people. I also think that those healthy boundaries should fall in alongside sincere desires for those toxic people to heal and repent.

Our enemies becoming our footstool

In this particular verse in Psalm 110, the Lord did not just speak of placing the enemies by the footstool. He spoke of the enemies becoming a footstool. 

We often speak of how certain people are placed in our lives at the very moment we need them. However, just as often, I think people are placed in our lives as opportunities to become better people. Our “enemies” are meant to be a step stool towards a more Christlike life. They give us a chance to practice what we preach, and to truly become the kind of people who sincerely love their enemies. Those difficult moments appear before us as a footstool that we can step onto should we choose to do so.

Interestingly enough, when some of us are wronged or betrayed, we cry out against the unfairness of it all. We kick the footstool away instead of seeing that it could allow us to step up if we let it. We also seem to simultaneously forget that we are often the stepping stool for others.

As we are continually faced with a problematic person, we are receiving continual opportunities to forgive, love, and cherish them. When we feel those little stirrings of anger, annoyance, dismay, or moral superiority, are we purposefully replacing them with kinder thoughts? In the same way you would quickly try to replace an inappropriate image in your head, you should be quickly trying to replace your unkind thoughts and feelings toward another person. That is how your enemies become a footstool for you.

Because of the atonement of Jesus Christ, any bad that comes our way in this world can be turned into something beautiful – like a footstool.

Please remember that I’m teaching an ideal here. Replacing each and every angry and annoyed thought is a ton of work, and it often takes a lifetime of practice. Please don’t feel like this is something that should be done tomorrow. Forgiveness is not often a singular event, especially when the offenses are continuous. It is a process that occurs over and over and over, sometimes even daily depending on our “enemy.” 

Perhaps they will never change. But perhaps the Lord didn’t place them in your life so you could change them. Perhaps the Lord placed them in your life so that you could change.

I believe that forgiveness is repentance. When you forgive, you are the one who changes. You are the one who steps up onto the footstool. I believe that consciously changing your thoughts and becoming Christlike is an expectation for those who have made promises with Christ. I also believe that therapy, doctors, and time are all parts of the repentance/forgiveness process in more extreme cases. Repentance and forgiveness is healing, and sometimes we need help from professionals or supportive loved ones in our process to step above the wrongs that have been done against us.

I believe that through the atonement of Christ, we can repent. In other words, we can change and heal. I believe that as we heal and recognize how loved we are by the most powerful Being in the universe, that ultimate epiphany of forgiveness comes naturally.

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