“Plead my cause, O Lord, with those who strive with me; Fight against those who fight against me.
We cannot be sure the exact situation that stirred David to write this Psalm, but we do know that he seemed to be under continual attack. From the start, he had to deal with those who continually came against him. His father neglected him, his brothers tormented him, the Giants ridiculed him, the king hunted him, and the neighboring nations sent armies to attack him. As a result, it would be fair to say David was an expert on warfare and he knew how to fight on many different fronts. In this Psalm, he reveals the secret behind his success. When under attack, David looked to God for defense.
Most of us are not reading this from a foxhole or from behind enemy lines. We probably are not distracted by the sound of mortar blasts or gunfire, but that does not mean that we are not under severe attack. Paul told the Corinthian church that the warfare we are engaged in is not natural but spiritual (2 Corinthians 10:2-3 and Ephesians 6:12). We are under constant attack from the world, the flesh, and the devil. We are under constant pressure to give in to a little sin and to conform to the world. When we fail, we face a new battle, dealing with the guilt of sin and trying to free ourselves from its grip. Like David, it is time we learn to look to God to be our defense. The greater the intensity of the temptation, the more it is necessary to cling to the Lord and stand behind Him as our shield. If you are in the midst of a particularly trying season of life, it is essential that you learn to make the Lord your hiding place. His Word works as a shield and a sword. Find a promise that relates to your struggle, hide behind it, and use it against the enemy whenever he hurls temptation, fear, depression, guilt or any other weapon your way. God is our defense, He will fight our battles for us. We can find victory when we learn to trust in Him.
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him.”
Years ago I injured my knee and required surgery. Before the operation, I was given a detailed description of the human knee. I learned how it was constructed, how it functioned and how mine was damaged. When the surgery was completed, I was even given a video of the operation. If I wanted to, I could have watched on the big screen as parts were cut away and replaced. I learned things I never really wanted to know.
David expresses praise to God for being his strength and his shield. It is important to keep in mind, the only way to know the strength of the Lord is to encounter your own weakness. It was the times when David reached the end of himself that he would come face to face with the reality of the power, strength and enabling of God. All of us want to know God’s power, but we need to realize He only gives it when we are facing things that our own strength cannot handle. Paul prayed to know the power of the resurrection. He needed that because he was constantly in situations where his own power was insufficient. Those who truly know the power of God, are those who have come to realize their own weakness.
The same concept is true regarding a shield. What sounds like beautiful poetic expression, also has a real and practical backstory. David knew God to be his shield because he faced situations in life where he was forced to hide from the attack of others. He had to duck from the spear of Saul, hide in the caves of Adullum, and even flee outside the borders of the land. It was in the times of greatest attack that David learned he could hide himself under the protective shield of His God.
Whatever you are facing, it is good to know that your strength does not have to be sufficient. You can break, and when you do, you can find the strength of the Lord to be enough. No matter what the enemy hurls at you, the shield of the Lord is a fortress that will not fail.
“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.’”
Abraham had every reason to be afraid. He had just mounted a surprise attack against the forces of king Chedorlaomer and stole back all the spoils of Chedarlaomer’s victory over the king of Sodom. It seems obvious, this king would soon return with his armies and attempt to wipe out Abraham. I love that God wastes no time in coming to Abraham with a promise to be his protection against the enemies attacks.
Abraham’s fears may have been compiled by the fact that he had just rejected all the spoils offered to him by the king of Sodom. In an act of great, perhaps even heroic, faith, Abraham resisted the temptation to take a financial gift from the king. He chose, instead, to boldly declare he would rather trust in the provision of God, than to have anyone think it was the king who made him rich. What a blessing to hear God declare He would be Abraham’s reward.
No matter what circumstances we might be facing, we can be assured that God wants to provide protection and provision. Just as He held back the vengeful hand of Chedorlaomer, He is able to work out the troubling circumstances which seem to be drowning you. God is faithful to be our shield and our reward.