|1. A Call to War
The language of this Psalm reflects the battlefield. David is calling on God to pick up his weapons and fight against his, David’s, enemies. He wants them destroyed. We are not told when in David’s life this Psalm was written or who in particular were his enemies, it is probably during his long feud with King Saul, but there were many times it would apply just as well. David’s battles were physical, though they usually had a spiritual cause, his enemies were flesh and blood and fought with real weapons. He projects the imagery of warfare onto God and asks him to support him in the fight.
You and I may not have physical enemies like David, we may experience some of the attacks he did though. We may have been lied about, falsely accused, there may be people campaigning behind your back, spreading gossip and trying to destroy your reputation. In some places Christians do face very real physical attacks as well, they are executed, tortured and imprisoned, but for the most part that doesn’t happen in the western world. However, we are all involved in a battle, the apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 6 that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in the heavenly places. It may not be physical but it is real.
David sensibly calls on God to fight for him. He wants him to contend or strive with his opponents, to arm himself and enter the battle. He asks God to pick up his shield and buckler, these are different types of shield, a small one probably worn on the forearm in close combat and the other, the buckler a large rectangular shield to take shelter behind. The battle would be fought in close but there would also be arrows and spears thrown from a distance, these shields provided safety. David also wanted God to pick up a spear and javelin, these were offensive weapons, the spear to thrust at an opponent often mounted on a horse, while the javelin would be thrown. Then he needed the assurance of God announcing that he was the source of David’s salvation.
David wanted to see his enemies run, with the angel of the Lord chasing them. He wanted to see them fall into the net that they had prepared for David. He wanted to see them perish. Then, he says, he will rejoice and tell everyone what a great victory God has won. Is that our attitude to our spiritual enemies? Those who crouch like a lion seeking to devour the unwary, who lay traps before our feet hoping we would fall into them. God’s word to us is that we should resist the devil and he will flee from us. We are to dress for battle with sword drawn and shield held aloft, to stand firm knowing that the battle is not ours, but God’s and he is our salvation.
How desperate are we to enlist God’s help? Do we even recognize that many of the trials we face have a spiritual origin and must be fought with spiritual weapons? We may read the words of David and get surprised at how angry and bloodthirsty he seems, but is this what it takes for us to stand against our enemy? It appears that many of us take the devil and his schemes too lightly, we do not think that we really are in a battle. It is easier to appreciate a fight that is visible and physical, when we can see our enemy and strike blows against a real target. It seems much less real when it is a battle hidden from view. The battle is real though, it is a fight for your soul, your peace and your hope. It is a long unrelenting campaign to rob you of your joy and make you doubt your salvation. The devil wants to destroy you and will use the weapons at his disposal. But like David, we call upon our God to fight for us, to assure us that he is our salvation and we are confident that he who sits above all rule, power and authority in the heavenly places will lift high the victory banner over your life and mine. What better reason to praise him?