For most of us, war is something far removed from the reality of our lives. We hear the sounds of battles on radios, see them on screens inside our homes, but its all far away. To people living in war, we live like kings! Peace, prosperity! Its like the ending of a fairy tale living happily ever after.
But just because we enjoy peace, do we live happily every after? Many of us experience moments of unhappiness in our lives. Sometimes great unhappiness. Reality is that there are still battles to fight. Each has to fight his own battles. Battles with loneliness, grief. Terminal disease, chronic illness. Handicaps. Wounds of sexual abuse. Family conflict, straying children. Disappointment, failure. The reality of pain, tears, helplessness its all there in these personal battles.
And sometimes the difficulties of battle get the better of us. Sometimes you may wonder how youre going to get through. You cant even think about tomorrow, because youre having enough trouble trying to survive today! Its stressful, draining. Sometimes its even too much.
But the real battle isnt just with the pain and misery of it all. Its the battle against sin! Sin causes us to be discontented instead of content, to give up instead of fighting. To envy others who dont have to fight the battles that we do. To complain, selfishly thinking about ourselves first instead of God and our neighbour. Sin is the real problem in our battles! Altogether, it can bring you to the edge . . . that you say: I cant do it anymore.
David also lived like a king. He was a king. For David, living as king didnt mean enjoying peace. It meant fighting battles. In Psalm 18, David looks back at those battles he fought. As he reflects on those battles, he asks, How did I get the strength to deal with those battles? How did I make it through alive?
Those battles were very real. David mentions advancing against a troop. That was a strong force of soldiers. The band of Amalekites who raided Ziklag was a troop that David faced with only 400 men (1 Sam 30). He also mentions scaling walls. He faced such a wall of a fortress when he captured Jerusalem. The people on the walls of a fortress had all the advantages. Even the people in Jerusalem were convinced that David didnt have any hope of defeating them, saying, Even the blind and lame can ward you off! (2 Sam 5). Those are the kinds of battles David had to face, and many more!
Maybe you think: But David was a mighty warrior. Im no mighty warrior, no hero. In my battles Im often a weakling ready to give up. But David wasnt a mighty warrior in his own strength! He knew exactly what it was to be weak and ready to give up! The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me he confesses (v. 4). In other words, Im helpless!
But in his distress, realizing his helplessness, David turns to God for help! Knowing that youre helpless, that God alone can help thats not a sign of spiritual weakness. Thats true humility, dependence on God. Thats reality for all of life! Believers are not Houdinis. When cords of death and despair entangle us, we cant get out on our own!
But heres Gods goodness: When you are helpless, God gives help! When you are weak, God is your strength! With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. God makes it possible for David to survive, even to conquer and win! With your help, with my God thats the key! Only because David found strength in the Lord his God (1 Sam 30:6) could he conquer the Amalekite troop, overcome the Jebusite fortress with its impressive walls. David is the one who advances against the troop, who scales the wall. But David says: One hundred percent God. With my God I did it all, without my God I couldnt do any of it.
Why is powerful God so concerned with weak David, that powerful God provides weak David with the strength he needs for his battles? Because Davids battles are Gods battles! David is King David, Gods king, fighting battles for Gods glory. These are battles that peak with Davids son, Jesus Christ, who had to fight the ultimate battle for Gods glory. But King Jesus crushed the troop, scaled the wall, won the victory. Its in light of that victory, that God gives David all the strength he needs. For David is a believer in Christ, and shares in Christ by true faith. Thats also how it works for us. The battles continue, the troops are still out, the walls are still up. But in the battle, youre a member of Christ. You share in Christ, not only also in his kingship (LD12), but also in his victory, and the booty of war.
In your personal battles, the troop may seem too strong, the wall too high. Maybe you say, I cant do it. Maybe when you see the difficult trials endured by others you say, I dont know how they cope, I could never do that. Youre absolutely right. You cant do it. But with your God you can! King Davids words can be said by kingly believers today: With my God I can advance against that troop, scale that wall! God doesnt promise a life without battles, but He does promise strength in those battles! He gives his Word and Spirit to equip you in the good fight. Then you discover what David did: That with your God, what you thought impossible, is possible after all. You discover what Paul did: I can do everything through him who gives me strength (Phil 4:13). The strategy David used to kill Uriah is one that God will never use on believing front-line soldiers today.
Rev. Richard E. Pot
Published in Clarion, Vol. 48 No. 18