Today’s reading is Psalm 35.
The first few verses of Psalm 35 seem odd to us. They picture God as lawyer and warrior. Someone is contending against me (and that is actually a legal term), contend against them for me. Someone is fighting against me, rise up and fight them for me. He really digs into the warrior metaphor in vss. 2-3, asking God to take up shields and weapons, and saying to David, “I will be your salvation!”
Then there are vss. 5-6 asking the Lord to have His angel chase the enemies away like chaff before the wind (yes, you should remember Psalm 1:4 here). What is going on here?
Let’s not read this in a vacuum. Look in Exodus 23:20-33. I’ll provide some excerpts.
Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared for you…But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries…I will send my terror before you and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you…
David didn’t just make up his prayer on the spot. He wasn’t just thinking of all the things he could say and created these ideas. David knew the Torah.
What is he doing in these prayers? He is asking God to be God. He is asking God to be for him, what He promised to be for Israel. He is asking God to be what God has already said He would be for His people.
Do you want to pray more effectively? Take a page out of David’s book and ask God to be in your life what God has declared He is.
Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 35.
Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post!
Continue reading “Asking God to Be God”
Today’s reading is Psalm 21.
David may have been a wonderful warrior. For all I know, he may have been a superb strategist and talented tactician. He may have been truly skilled with the sword and brilliant with a bow. No doubt, it seems he was super with a sling. But when the king comes back from the battle victorious in Psalm 21, everyone knew exactly why he did. It wasn’t because of David’s skill or prowess, it was because of his God. The battle was fought in the prayer closet before stepping onto the battlefield. Therefore, the battle was won before it was even engaged. Yet, David did have to engage. When it was over, though, David shouldn’t turn to God in expectation, asking, “Did you see that? Did you see how hard I fought for you?” No, David should bow before God acknowledging the true victor: “Thank you, Lord, for fighting for me.” At the end of our battles, the trophies are not ours. They are God’s. We don’t take our victories to God as badges of our strength or accomplishment. No. We take them as reasons to praise and give thanks to the One who truly won the victories. The battles belong to the Lord. And if that is so, that doesn’t merely mean stepping onto the battlefield in faith, that means stepping off the battlefield with thanksgiving and praise. We don’t get the credit for our victories, God does. In the end, we learn the women who sang, “Saul has slain his thousands, but David his ten thousands,” caused a great deal of jealousy and turmoil for nothing. In fact, neither had slain any. Both were merely God’s weapons in the wars against His enemies. God, we thank You for fighting on our behalf. We thank you for our victories. Our enemies are too much for us. If we have cowed them today, it is because of You and You only. Thank You.
Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 21.
Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the conversation Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier had on Text Talk expanding on this post!
Continue reading “The Battle Belongs to the Lord”
Today’s reading is Psalm 18.
Under the New Covenant, we talk a great deal about God’s armor (see Ephesians 6:10-18). We know about the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, gospel shoes, helmet of salvation, shield of faith, sword of the Word. Here in Psalm 18, we get to see the warrior on the battlefield in all that armor. Feet set secure on the broad places arranged by God so they won’t slip. Hands trained for war that can bend a bow of bronze. Support of God that shields from enemy’s attacks. These complementary images (the New Testament armor picture and the Old Testament battle image) should inform each other. That is, because we know Ephesians 6, we know the armor that makes the battle in Psalm 18 successful. Because we know Psalm 18, we know what the fight in the Ephesians 6 actually looks like. But there is another aspect of seeing these passages in light of each other. In Psalm 18, David said he needed the Lord in the battle because “my strong enemy…those who hated me…were too mighty for me” (Psalm 18:17). In Psalm 18, we envision Saul, Goliath, Doeg, Philistine armies. We live in a day and age that doesn’t include those kinds of enemies. We might view Psalm 18 as a wonderful poem for an ancient bygone day of violence that we don’t experience, until we go back to Ephesians 6 and discover we are smack in the middle of those days. We have enemies among the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers over this present darkness, spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Our enemies are arrayed against us. We can’t see them, but they are there. And they are too mighty for us. However, with God on our side, training us for battle, equipping us with His armor, we can run against a troop. We can leap walls and tall buildings. We can chase down our enemies as they turn their backs on us. We can beat them fine as dust. We can do all of this not because our enemies are weak or because we are strong. We can do all of this because our God is amazing. Praise the Lord!
Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 18.
Continue reading “In God’s Armor”
Today’s reading is Psalm 8.
It is quite possible that the purpose of Psalm 8:1-2 is to move our gaze from the expanse of the universe down to the tiniest infant to see God’s glory from the greatest to the smallest. However, I think vs. 2 may have a more significant point. The psalmist is about to question why God would even consider humankind as worthy of thought and remembrance. Yet, God has crowned man with glory and honor and given dominion to him. The latter half of the psalm expresses how amazing it is that God gives man dominion over His creation. This first part of the psalm shows how amazing it is that God stills the enemy and the avenger through mere infants. The point is not that literal infants are the strength of God. The point is that we, in all our strength, are nothing more than infants and babies. When we defeat the foes of God, when we still the enemies and avengers, it is not because of any great strength we have. It is because God has worked through us: mere babies and infants. This has special significance if this psalm really was written, as some believe, to memorialize David’s defeat of Goliath. Saul had claimed David was but a youth. David goes further, he is an infant. The victory wasn’t about David. He was just a baby. The victory was about God who, though His glory is above the heavens, condescends to work through youths, children, infants, and babies. We are the babies. How amazing is that?
Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 8.
Continue reading “We are the Babies”