“On the horns of a dilemma!” The old idiom meant if you avoided one horn, you would be impaled on the other. David described a situation in his life in terms somewhat like that expression.
Save Me from the lion’s mouth, and from the horns of the wild oxen You have answered Me. (Psalm 22:21)
He found himself in two desperate situations. Honestly, neither of the two are ideal. Yet the idea of being caught on the horns of a dilemma seem to suit the notion of the wild ox more than the mouth of the lion. In fact, the Cape Buffalo, himself a wild ox like David mentioned, is an amazingly dangerous animal. You might be interested to know that among the Big Five in Africa…that includes elephants, rhinos, leopards, hippos, and the aforementioned buffalo, it is the buffalo that is considered the most dangerous. Called “The Black Death,” he is responsible for at least two hundred deaths every year in Africa. This guy, weighing up to a ton, is also responsible for more lion deaths each year than any other animal.
Not only is he tough, mean-tempered, and deadly, but he is also smart and vindictive. These guys have been known to chase people up a tree and linger for hours, sometimes half a day or more, beneath the tree or in the nearby bush, waiting on the hapless human to scurry down the tree. They are the only animals among the deadly beasts which never give a “false charge.” If the Black Death comes after you, he will not give up until one of the two of you is lying dead in the dirt.
David makes a profound statement. In the moment of appalling helplessness, being tossed in the air by circumstances far too powerful for him to control, actually trying to avoid one horrific and painful way to die only to discover another equally brutal set of facts against him, he discovered the voice of God! He found what some have called “impossible relief out of hopeless despair.” Amazing, isn’t it…how many times has God made Himself known, not in the midst of our cry (Psalm 22:1-2), but in the moment of our apparent destruction?
If you have cried out, and heard nothing back, you are not alone. In fact, if you hear the impending pounding of the hoofs of old Black Death himself, complete with fits of rage and horns like razors, consider yourself in good company. Your elder brother David can tell you from experience you serve a God capable of delivering you even though you are in mid-air courtesy of his powerful neck and savage headgear. And, if you are looking for a pattern, look no further than the shattering horns of Black Death at a place called Golgotha and the amazing transformation which took place in an emptied tomb and amazing ascension into heaven. One worse than Black Death came after Jesus and worked his most vicious attack against Him. Yet in the midst of the crisis, Jesus was heard, and the result was what we will celebrate this Easter. Likewise, in our lives, the wild ox attacks and it seems we are doomed. Suddenly, against all hope, while we are tossed helplessly about, our cry is heard. Our God is amazing in His ability to deliver, even when men have declared us hopeless!