One of the more controversial subjects on which Christians disagree is the validity of war. Christians on both sides who completely believe their Bibles stand off on this issue, and sometimes there’s a lot more heat than light that results. Pacifists dismiss anyone who advocates military action as bloodthirsty warmongers, while those on the other side accuse the first group of cowardice. I don’t plan on resolving that controversy today, but hopefully I can bring some balance from Scripture.
Today’s passage highlights some of the schizophrenia some Christians feel about this. Assuming that the superscription is correct, then the author of this Psalm had nooooo problem with using physical violence to maintain justice and order. David was a soldier, and one of the first times he’s seen in Scripture is the story of how he killed an enemy soldier (remember Goliath?).
But if he is the author of this Psalm, then there’s a verse that should give us pause, namely the seventh: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” In those days, horses and chariots were the pinnacle of military technology. A nation that could train and supply horses and chariots invariably had a huge advantage over an army that lacked them, a situation which you find in the book of Judges. I guess the closest modern equivalent would be “Some trust in guns and bombs and nuclear weapons, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
So how do we resolve this? Should we just disband our armies and police? Should we just “trust in the name of the Lord our God”? I'd say no. Again, David was a warrior, and there’s no indication from Scripture that God somehow disapproved of this. When we turn to the New Testament, neither Jesus nor John the Baptist called upon soldiers to quit their jobs. Romans 13:1-4 is pretty clear that soldiers (and police officers) are God’s servants to keep basic justice and order in a fallen world.
So if this passage isn’t calling for disbanding of the military, then what is it saying? Simply put, we need to put our ultimate trust in the Lord to protect us. Lots of Christians, especially politically conservative ones, are despairing since the last Presidential election. But if you don’t agree with what the President is doing, for example regarding national security, can you at least recognize this? We need to remember that our security and safety are in God’s hands. He’s still on his throne, and he’s still in control. I’m not against missiles, armies, bombs, and bullets, as such, but I don’t trust any of that to keep me safe. My Father will do that, thank you.
Lord Jesus, it’s so easy to trust in anything that I can see or understand, to trust in anything besides you. Help to trust in your name, and in your name alone for everything I need.