Psalm 144: 1 Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; 2 my rock and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge…
If you’ve seen the movie “Saving Private Ryan” you may remember the American sniper quoting this psalm as he methodically goes about killing German soldiers. It’s a powerful image because the audience is confronted with an interesting contradiction – one who is wielding death in his hands invokes the Word of God as he does so.
I have a keen interest in American military history, particularly WWII history. I believe part of my fascination lies in the fact that, unlike any war since, our country was unified in its commitment to winning that war. The US was fully mobilized, bringing every possible resource to bear to conclude the war as quickly possible. Consider that our country, in partnership with our allies, secured victory on two fronts, the European theatre and Pacific theatre, in less than four years. It’s astounding when you think about it.
Compare this outcome with wars in Vietnam (10 years+) and in the Middle East (12 years and counting). Unlike the certainty of WWII, these more recent wars have prompted much more ambivalence and second-guessing. This lack of certainty and clarity has resulted in half measures and cumbersome rules of engagement that has limited our effectiveness (just my opinion here). It’s like fighting with one arm and one leg tied behind our backs. But that’s not what strikes me about our passage for today.
What strikes me about King David’s words is the fact that God has historically used people like you and me to combat evil. Our God of peace is sometimes a God of war.
Gracious God, there have always been forces of evil and death in the world. Today we are confronted with ISIS – a group known for its barbarity and violence. Give us grace to discern our role in eradicating this growing threat from the world. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.