Thursday, August 30, 2018
Scratching the Surface of the Psalms - 20
Scratching the Surface of the Psalms
Give or take a few fractions, ¾ of the world is always at war.
It’s one of the worst though most consistent behaviors of humanity.
Obviously, we like to fight.
Yeah, there are “just” wars; or as Solomon admitted, “There is a time for war.”
Being a sheepdog trying to guide, provide, and protect sheep includes inevitable conflict with the wolves that are doing their worst to devour them.
Yet, admittedly, most fights fall into James’ conclusion: “What is the cause of the wars and the fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war.”
Like American socialists who think that’ll work despite socialism never working in any country at any time, peaceniks who think forming a rap group in South Chicago will stop the current violence that makes the Capone era city look like a BB gun compared to heavy artillery are more naïve than Cortez, Bernie, and the rest of ‘em.
Sad truth is everyone who fights thinks they’re right.
Referring to the so-called “Dark Ages” that never seem to go away, renowned Yale historian Roland Bainton provided this stark realism about human nature in Christendom, “The degree to which centralized government had collapsed is illustrated by the fate of Augustine’s doctrine of the just war. He had said that war should be conducted only under the auspices of the state, because private war is anarchy…He said that justice must be on one side only and that the prince should determine the justice. He had been thinking in terms of the Christian Roman Empire over against the hordes of barbarians, but now that the multitudinous princes were feuding with each other, one prince had as much right as another to call his cause just…Consequently, theory was thrown to the winds, and those attacked took care of themselves, including bishops, priests, monks, and nuns, though the clergy often scrupled to use swords and, instead, bashed the enemy with clubs, because ‘the Church abhors the shedding of blood.’ The code had utterly collapsed.”
Still, despite our miscalculations and misinterpretations and mistakes, there are times, echoing Solomon again, when war is the right thing to do to protect sheep from wolves.
Pharaohs, Hitlers, Nazis, KKKs, Islamofascistnutballs, and other conspirators with satanos will not stop unless stopped; and anyone who thinks they’re metaphorically “better red than dead” and ready to give up divinely designed freedom for a six-pack and Bears game is deceived by the ultimate goal of the dark side to seduce, enslave, and eliminate the non-compliant.
Parenthetically, that’s why the aforementioned and their diabolical kin always take away freedoms like the first two amendments to our Constitution when they want to rule.
God will judge who’s right in the end; and, in the meantime, the faithful turn to Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense to differentiate good from bad when deciding when to pick up the rod and staff for righteous undershepherding.
Psalm 20 was David’s battle prayer.
History complementing the Bible tells us that God’s people have always been in conflict with the evil one and its accomplices; and God’s people have always prayed for God’s graces to overcome and win the battle over darkness.
While most folks assume David wrote this psalm while preparing to go to war with the Ammonites and Syrians (see 2 Samuel 10:14-19) and others have speculated the psalm predicted the big showdown between Jesus and death punctuated by His victory via resurrection, it is helpful to any contemporary believer challenging the cultures so increasingly hostile to Jesus and Biblical Christianity.
Psalm 20 begins with David asking God’s graces and success as he prepares to lead God’s people into battle: “Answer us…Protect us…Help us…Sustain us…Remember us…Give us…Fulfill us…Lift us.…”
Then David predicts victory in advance because He trusts God’s care of the faithful: “Let us shout for joy because of the coming victory and set up our banners in joyful celebration…God gives victory to His anointed.”
God’s people know they will win even before the battle begins because they are on God’s team and God’s team never loses and the final standings always have Him and His on top.
As I recall someone saying, “This is the language of faith, not after the battle, but before it.”
David and God’s people throughout history know “the Lord saves His anointed” because they live and reign ultimately “in the name of God.”
“In the name of God” means the Godly belong to God and are beholden to God and, therefore, are blessed by God.
It means messing with God’s anointed people is a recipe for divine payback and ultimate defeat.
Surely, the most anointed of all was His Son/Substance/Incarnation Jesus who beat the final enemy of death for Himself and everyone else who invites Him into the heart as Lord and Savior.
So, again, the anointed – all who love and follow Jesus by the book – sing triumphantly, “We know God saves His anointed. He answers and assists and delivers us from our enemies that are His enemies from His holy heaven by His saving strength.”
God’s people trust Him alone as above all other pretenders to salvation: “Some trust in others but we trust in God alone…Trusting in others means collapse and fall…Trusting in God means resurrection and strong calm sanity and standing firm and victory…Trusting God is knowing He saves when we call on Him.”
Unlike the worldly who trust the world and keep falling with it, God’s people are Wordy and trusting in the enfleshed Word (Jesus) and explained Word (Holy Scripture) and always revive and survive.
I like how Spurgeon put it: “Alas, how many in our day who profess to be the Lord’s are as abjectly dependent upon their fellow-men or upon an arm of flesh in some shape or other, as if they had never known the name of Jehovah at all.”
You may have heard about the priest who was blessing horses at the track. He would make the sign of the cross, place his hand on a horse’s head, bow in prayer, and then the horse would go on to win.
After watching the ceremony through several races, an inveterate gambling junkie raced to the betting window and placed all of his money on a horse in the last race of the day after the priest made the sign of the cross, placed his hand on the horse’s head, and bowed in prayer.
The horse lost.
In fictional fact, the horse finished dead last.
The now totally busted gambling junkie ran to the priest after the race and asked why the horse finished dead last after his ceremony while the other horses that went through the same thing went on to win.
The priest said, “Son, it appears you don’t know the difference between a blessing and last rites.”
Psalm 20 is about picking a winner.
It’s about trusting and thanking God in advance for ultimate victory here, now, and forever by grace through faith in Jesus.
Blessings and Love!
Shatter the sound of silence!
Wake up! Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!
Salt! Shine! Leavenate!