For the last several days I (Brooksyne) have been collecting eggs for our neighbors while they are participating in Ag Progress Days near State College. Growing up on a farm in Tulsa I did this often so it’s a pretty familiar chore and the bonus is that we have farm fresh eggs for the next week.
However it’s not been without potential hazards. As I walked through the neighbor’s back yard toward the pasture I spotted the bull* lying down in the shade along with the chickens. With sunny 95+ degree days these animals use good sense and cool themselves as best they can. But upon my appearance the bull quickly sprung to his feet and quickly headed toward me as I was preparing to scoop up the eggs from the chicken coop. It made me a bit nervous even though I was on the other side of the fence as he lowered his head and made snorting noises. I was watching to see that he didn’t start pawing the ground with his hooves as well. Fences can be trampled down depending on the strength and determination of the animal.
As this huge animal appeared to be quite unhappy with my presence he stood right up near the fence while I hid behind the side of the chicken coop thinking he’d go away. But when I came around the corner to gather the eggs there he was again staring straight at me with steely eyes, not the gentle, smiling eyes I’m accustomed to seeing from our pets at home.
I began to take inventory of what was around me so I could make a quick escape if needed and the first thing I saw was the large above ground swimming pool near the coop. But at my height, age, and size I wasn’t convinced that I could jump over the side if forced to make a mad dash from the bull so I darted my eyes about trying to locate the pool ladder. But I got away safely as I took a shortcut through the side yard.
When I walked up on Wednesday I was fairly apprehensive after my first two experiences on Monday and Tuesday. I assessed the situation from afar and the bull was in the usual shade. As I approached once again he headed toward me as I neared the coop. But perhaps he came to realize by day three that I meant no harm and he simply watched me. This time I could actually look him in his eyes and I wasn’t afraid. He didn’t even growl and perhaps there was even a glimmer of warmth in his gaze, just a tiny bit like that of our pets, Mollie and Sadie!
After my two stress filled encounters on Monday and Tuesday the end of my story is that I walked away all three days unharmed, and the good news is that the family returns today!
Today let us consider an obscure verse that uses bulls illustratively to describe the perils of life. “Many bulls surround me. Strong bulls from Bashan encircle me”. Thus our title today, “When Many Bulls Surround”.
Psalm 22 is best known as a Messianic Psalm that begins with the words Christ uttered from the cross, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”
The Psalm has an interesting pattern of moving between expressions of worry and despair and peace and assurance such as these verses:
Despair:“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but You do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.” (1,2)
Assurance:“Yet You are enthroned as the Holy One; You are the one Israel praises. In You our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and You delivered them. To You they cried out and were saved; in You they trusted and were not put to shame.” (3-5)
Followed again by despair:“But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. ‘He trusts in the Lord,’ they say, ‘let the Lord rescue him. Let Him deliver him, since he delights in Him’.” (6-8)
We can only speak for ourselves but we find the same pattern when we are in a season of trouble. We get peace about a matter then begin to despair when we take our eyes off the Lord. But we’re not the only ones to have this testimony! What about you?
Again, our daily text states, “Many bulls surround me. Strong bulls from Bashan encircle me” (Psalm 22:12). In a time of trouble do you ever feel like you are surrounded and encircled by many strong bulls? This verse is followed by a lengthy diatribe of despair (13-18).In describing his plight the Psalmist uses several other animal illustrations such as “Roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against me” (v.13). and “Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet” (v.16).
But today let’s end the message with peace and assurance! “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before Him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and He rules over the nations.” (27,28)
So if you are being surrounded by bulls today remember, dominion belongs to the Lord and He rules over the nations and certainly any situation you might be facing.
Dr Anthony Orji is a Ph.D holder in Economics and a lecturer at the Department of Economics, University of Nigeria Nsukka.
He obtained his B.Sc, Msc and Ph.D Degrees from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and a Post Graduate Diploma in Sustainable Local Economic Development (SLED) from Erasmus University, Rotterdam Netherlands.