I have always loved Psalm 18, that is to say certain verses of Psalm 18, particularly verses 30 -33, ‘It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to stand on the heights’. I’ve never been so keen on reading the next verse, ’He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze’. I think this is because while I’m very happy with the Lord guiding me and, even when I make a mistake, somehow working it for good and ‘making my way perfect’, the thought of warfare and battle sends me running for cover.
I think I have had, probably like many Christians, a feeling that I will probably lose any battle I get into, and will also get hurt in the process. This form of cowardice arises, I think, because I have conceptualised the enemy as far too big and my God as far, far, too small. This morning, in a time of worship, as I was dwelling on the truth that ‘the Lamb is on the throne’, that our Jesus is in the highest place, and that nothing and no one outside His Father outranks Him or ever will; it began to ‘seep’ into me that I am actually already on the winning side!!
This morning there was a situation that I was considering, with a bit of a sinking heart, and it felt as if the Lord was smiling at me, inviting me to enjoy this ‘little battle’, (and it was only a small one), as we tackled it together. He wasn’t sending me off alone, standing back and judging how I fared. No! He would be my teacher, coach and trainer. Suddenly ‘He trains my hands for battle’, took on a new dimension. Our wonderful leader does not send us into battle untrained and unarmed but He delights to train us so that we win, and He comes alongside us to make sure that we do.
So the following verses in Psalm 18 continue as follows, ‘you give me your shield of victory, your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great. You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn’. How wonderful is that? ‘I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back until they were destroyed…… you armed me with strength for battle; you made my adversaries bow at my feet. You made my enemies turn their backs and I destroyed my foes’, Psalm 18:35-39.
I had never noticed before the delicious mix of ‘I’ and ‘You’ statements that David makes in those verses. Sometimes it was him fighting and doing things and sometimes he is recounting what God did for him in the battle. There are in fact twice as many you statements as I statements. David is fighting, but God is so right there in the mix, that victory is never in doubt. Now I know David here is fighting physical battles with physical enemies, but nevertheless these stories are written for our encouragement, and if God was going to be there for David in his physical fights He will certainly be with us in our spiritual battles. Suddenly warfare is beginning to look like it could be ‘fun’.
As well as training us for ‘war’ our wonderful God not only comes with us into battle but He also gives us the weapons we need, 2 Corinthians 10:4, and He gives us the armour we need, Ephesians 6:10-17. We will be looking at these things some more tomorrow, but for today, let us thank the Lord that He is not only our triumphant King of Kings, but He is also our trainer and fellow soldier in all our spiritual battles.