It’s been one of those nights. I awoke a little after 3:00 a.m. and was filled with thoughts of grace running through my head. (I am preparing for a sermon, or talk, for Tres Dias and did a word study on grace — so I am full of thoughts on grace.) What do I do when I can’t sleep and these thoughts run through my mind without end? I think, “It must be time to get up and work on that talk. As I sat down to get started, that still, small voice whispered to go back to Psalms before you get started. Uh, Ok.
I was directed to Psalm 9, specifically, the first 3 verses. I’ll present them here for your reference, but as always, I encourage you to read on your own as well. All of Psalm 9 is good stuff!
1 I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
2 I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
3 When my enemies turn back,
they stumble and perish before your presence.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ps 9:1–3). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
As I read this passage, I had this visual image in my head of a warrior running into battle against an overwhelming foe. The sight of the warrior was not set on the foe in front of him, but on a good God. The sight of the warrior was not on something he could not overcome, but on a loving, heavenly Father that would overcome for him. Setting his sights on Him, the warrior charges against the foe! He doesn’t need to charge far or long.
The next thing that happens is unexplainable. The foe that seemed so overwhelming a moment ago, sees something different about the warrior. They see an even more overwhelming light and are no longer a united army, but individuals divided by distraction. In response to this distraction of overwhelming light, the enemy army turns to run. (The Message actually uses the words “turned tail and ran”.) When they turned to run from the warrior, they were confronted with something even more overwhelming. They no longer saw the light that reflected off the warrior’s armor, but the actual source of the light that the warrior saw all along. Blinded, they stumble and lash out in every direction, eyes closed. In that blind lashing, they destroy each other.
In the end, all the warrior had to do was thank and praise a good, good Father and know the source of his strength.
That vision happened in a matter of seconds in my head. I was immediately drawn to a scripture that gives this vision/image a backing in history. In 2 Chronicles, chapter 20, King Jehoshaphat (I love that name, it’s fun to say out loud!) is informed that there is a multi-nation army gathering against Judah and they weren’t far away! Jehoshaphat’s immediate reaction was to be afraid. However, he didn’t turn and run, he declared a nationwide fast to seek help from the Lord. He gathered the people together and prayed, declaring the greatness of God, remembering and listing God’s past victories for Judah. And finally asking for help against the gathering armies. (Stop! Go back and read those three verses again and notice the parallels in Jehoshaphat’s reaction and the psalmist’s words.)
While Jehoshaphat was praying, the Holy Spirit began to speak through someone in the crowd (Jahaziel) telling everyone not to be afraid, the battle is not yours, but God’s. Then, they fell to the ground and worshipped as a nation.
The next morning, Jehoshaphat, with renewed strength, stood and encouraged the nation “Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established…” So he has gathered the nation together and his only battle cry was “gather the singers together, get dressed in garments of praise and sing”:
“Give thanks to the Lord,
for his steadfast love endures forever.”
As they began to sing and praise, the Bible says the Lord set an ambush against the armies, and they destroyed each other. Bam! Battle won! And all Judah had to do was sing and praise a good, good Father!
Final thought: What overwhelming armies gather in our lives today? What is so threatening in our life that our initial reaction is fear? Our good God is more than powerful enough to overcome them. We can’t be the ones to turn and run. We need to stand, dressed in our armour (check out Ephesians 6), and first know Whose battle it is, then sing, praise, and worship the One who will be victorious over the overwhelming enemies in our lives! Our triune God is more overwhelming than anything enemies can bring to the battle!!! Bam! Battle won!