Olly Olly Oxen Free

1 Vindicate me, God, and defend my cause against an ungodly nation;
rescue me from the deceitful and unjust man.

2 For You are the God of my refuge. Why have You rejected me?
Why must I go about in sorrow because of the enemy’s oppression?

3 Send Your light and Your truth; let them lead me.
Let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to Your dwelling place.

4 Then I will come to the altar of God, to God, my greatest joy.
I will praise You with the lyre, God, my God.

5 Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God.

– Psalm 43:1-5

Do you remember the feeling?  As your heart races within your chest, you peer around the tree trunk that has provided a secure hiding place for you to determine if the threat of exposure is looming near.  The seeker is getting closer, and you stand a good chance of getting caught.

Suddenly, you hear the wonderful words yelled out: “Olly, olly, oxen free!”  With that phrase echoing through the airwaves, you jump out from hiding, knowing that you are safe to come out again.  It means that the time of anxiety is over, and freedom has once again returned.

In his own way, the psalmist emerges from his desperate hiding place and sings, “Olly, olly, oxen free!” through the words of this psalm.  He had been in hiding.  His enemies were not playing a game with him; they wanted him dead.

Maybe you have never been in such physical danger, but we all know what it is like to deal with “deceitful and unjust” (v. 1) people in our lives.  We know what it is like to wake up in the morning to pray desperately to catch a break from the negative circumstances in our lives.

How does the psalmist handle this situation?  He asks for God to give him the “olly, olly, oxen free” sign by sending God’s light and truth to guide him (v. 3).

While he is cognizant of the fact that the circumstances are still real that threaten him, he remembers that his God is bigger! 

He remembers that he who is in him is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).  He is reminded that God is for him; who could be against him (Rom. 8:31)?

Maybe you are in despair today, but never forget that you serve a God who protects you. 

Go to the altar of God with exceeding joy and give him praise (v. 4)!  Hope in God.  Find the strength to praise him again.  He has never let us down, and he never will.