James McCormick is a Dallas-based software developer, consultant, and Orthodox Christian, though he was raised Methodist on the outskirts of Houston and spent some time in New Age syncretism that embarrasses him to talk about today (for an idea of what it was like, go watch Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai). He’s struggled most of his life with the demon of noonday.
Psalm 90 (91 Masoretic Text) (Modified variant of the King James Version)
He that dwelt in the help of the most high shall abide under the shelter of the God of Heaven. He shall say unto the Lord, Thou art my helper and my refuge; He is my God and in Him will I hope. For He shall deliver thee from the snare of the hunters and rom every troublesome word. He shall overshadow thee with His shoulders, and under his wings shalt thou trust; His truth shall compass thee with a shield. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor the arrow that flight by day; nor the thing that walketh in darkness; nor for the mishap and demon of noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold, and see the reward of sinners. Because Thou, Lord, art my hope.
Thou hast made the Most High thy refuge. There shall no evils befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bare thee up in their hands, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the asp and basilisk, and the lion and the dragon shalt thou trample underfoot. Because he hath set his hope in Me, I will
deliver him; I will shelter him, because he hath known My name. He shall cry unto Me and I will harken unto him; I am with him in affliction, and I will deliver him, and glorify him. With length of days will I satisfy him, and shew [sic] him my salvation.
As an advanced warning to all readers, when I cite psalm numbers, I have a tendency to use
the Septuagint numbering. It’s how I know and pray the psalms in my daily life, being of an
Orthodox persuasion. Also, it’s the copy of the psalter I have on hand. I’ll provide more familiar
Masoretic Text verse numberings when the psalm number is different.
Psalm 90 (91 Masoretic) is quite familiar to me. As a part of the twelfth kathisma (a collection of
psalms—there are 20 of them, each read at a certain point of the week), I often find myself
reading it for Vespers on Wednesday nights at church. Once I get a couple verses into it, I can
remember the rest. In this psalm, David speaks of the refuge of God from all that afflict us,
enemies both corporeal and bodiless.
I know a thing or two about the noonday demon. For me, there’s more than one.
The one at my right hand is Depression. He usually claims the mantle of the “noonday demon”
today. I’m told Andrew Solomon has a decent book on the subject, but I haven’t had a chance
to read it yet. He will contort happiness, joy, and pleasure into a boring hollowness. He will
repeat every bit of bad news I receive into my ear. He will show me the things I don’t want to
The one at my left hand is called Anxiety. He tells me that I’m not good enough, that I can’t do
anything, that no matter what I try, it won’t work. He tells me that others judge me all the time.
On his account, I spend a lot of time alone, avoiding other people.
The one behind me is called Loneliness. He works with the other two, attempting to prevent me
from taking refuge anywhere. He tries to convince me that I’m truly alone out here, and that not
even God is with me. Of these demons, he’s the biggest liar, but he’s the most effective when
working in concert with the other three.
However, in my darkest moments, like the ones I’ve been having in the last week, I have begun
to take efforts at making God my refuge. I’m spending a bit more time at the altar at church, to
the point of not leaving it at all during services. I’m redoubling my efforts with my sadlyneglected
prayer rope. These things have helped. They don’t stop the pain. No, there’s no
escaping the pain I’m in, both physical (seriously, depression brings on monster headaches)
There is no enemy God can’t handle. Even when it seems to you, as it does to me, that those
that afflict you are multiplied, look for refuge in God. When you seek refuge in Christ, clinging to
the Holy, Life-Giving Cross, you’re hanging on to the greatest ally that you have. After all.
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that
spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely
give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that
justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again,
who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall
separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long;
we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than
conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor
angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor
depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in
Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:31-39 (KJV)
Of course, I’m a practical guy. I can’t just have someone sermonize and meditate. I need a
plan of action. So I won’t leave you without one, either, should you find yourself in a situation
like mine. After all, it’s one thing to say that you can claim victory over the demons. It’s another
to have a fight plan.