Each week we have about 100 verses of Psalms as part of our assignment. I started way late yesterday and had just a little over an hour to get the Psalm assignment done. I was bummed that I’d shoved this into such a tight space, because there is potential for the homework to actually be a really good time with God. So I did the out loud reading and focused. I moved quickly but purposed to be present and take it all in.
This week we were to read Psalms 10-18. Of those Psalms, 18 is the longest. We’re supposed to read them all aloud, give them new titles, record what kind of Psalm each is and who wrote it and then do a “build” on one of the Psalms. The build is similar to the work we do for the rest of the books of the Bible in that we record observations, details, we interpret an observation and then do some personal application of that interpretation. Psalm 18 is, by far the longest. Clearly, I told myself, I would not be doing a “build” on that one.
But what do you know, that’s the one that impacted me the strongest as I read.
“I love you, O Lord, my strength.”….
So begins David… heading into a beautiful picture of God as a knight in shining armor. Through battle and nature imagery, David describes how the Lord saved him from his enemies (enemies led by King Saul).
For David’s defense, God is described as a mighty warrior, smoke pouring out of his nostrils, riding on dark clouds of justice. He parts the sea and pulls David up out of the water to arm him for battle and strengthens him to continue fighting unto victory. One of my favorite lines;
“You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.”
At first David’s weapon/battle language was strange to me. I’m not much for using real weapons. Guns, swords, shields. So as I was looking at this for personal application, I thought about how I might describe God, using the situations wherein he has shown himself my savior. I can’t remember what I wrote exactly, but immediately what came to my mind was the transition of this last year. In literal terms, God has brought me from a valley full of dark clouds to a mountain valley bathed in sunlight. From rejection and death He has brought me to an actual new life where He is strengthening me and teaching me how to be His in a deeper way than I have known before.
I needed a knight in shining armor. And here He is, defending my cause and proving that no enemy can withstand even the breath of His mouth.
This is what I mean by Paul and the disciples not being masochists. Can you think of a cause worth defending? Can you think of a loved one worth protecting, worth fighting for? I didn’t know what a protector looked like until last year when I got to know two guys named Dave (father and son) and now I see how this is a real reflection of God’s heart for His people. And who are His people? Anyone who chooses Him. “He is a shield for those who take refuge in him.”
But what are the real weapons for battle? Love. Mercy. Forgiveness. Justice. These are weapons I am willing to be slain by and weapons I am willing to wield.