The Praises of a Military Man
1Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;
2he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.
3O Lord, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him?
4Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.
5Bow your heavens, O Lord, and come down! Touch the mountains so that they smoke!
6Flash forth the lightning and scatter them; send out your arrows and rout them!
7Stretch out your hand from on high; rescue me and deliver me from the many waters, from the hand of foreigners,
8whose mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
9I will sing a new song to you, O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you,
10who gives victory to kings, who rescues David his servant from the cruel sword.
11Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners, whose mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
12May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace;
13may our granaries be full, providing all kinds of produce; may our sheep bring forth thousands and ten-thousands in our fields;
14may our cattle be heavy with young, suffering no mishap or failure in bearing; may there be no cry of distress in our streets!
15Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall! Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!
With this prayer, we are plunged into the mind and heart of a warrior-king. David may have had a soft heart when it came to the Lord and his great love for God. But he was also a man of violence. He spent over 10 years running for his life from the murder threats of King Saul. There is even a story of David setting his heart on vengeance after Nabal insulted him and he had to be rescued from his own violent tendency by Abigail. After becoming king, he spent years defending the kingdom against the Philistines and other enemy countries. In fact, David was not allowed by God to build The Temple because his hands had “shed blood”. The words of Psalm 144 show us with clarity how David felt about his role as the leader of a nation under siege. He relied on God for strength and the power to lead.
It is against the rules of good Bible study to snatch phrases from the text and lean into them. Context is vital. But in these words I find several phrases that are worthy of meditation and which we find sprinkles throughout the liturgy and our lives. I want to highlight a few of those verses/phrases for our thoughts today.
Vs. 2 “. . . he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge,” These are words of comfort for any of us as we navigate the pitfalls of this life. Some days, I find myself running into that “fortress” over and over. The four words used to describe God here (fortress, stronghold, deliverer, shield) all have a firmly military ring to them, but they speak of strength and ultimate protection.
Vs. 9 “I will sing a new song to You, O God.” It would be a great deal of fun to be a person who knew how to make up songs, but God has not chosen that gift for me. But I do delight when I hear a new song on the radio and find that they can quite often move me to tears of joy.
Vs. 15 “Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!” Indeed, we are blessed, for the God of the universe has made us His own and it is a delightful place to be.