1 A Psalm of David.
Plead my cause, O LORD, with those who strive with me;
Fight against those who fight against me.
2 Take hold of shield and buckler,
And stand up for my help.
3 Also draw out the spear,
And stop those who pursue me.
Say to my soul,
"I am your salvation."
As we read the Old Testament, what many of us fail to remember is that King Saul and King David were amateur soldiers. Before Saul, many men of Israel kept swords so they could be called up to stand and fight for Israel, but there were no full-time commanders, no full-time soldiers. When there was need, one of the judges of Israel would call up the tribes, and they would leave farm and field and flock to take up sword and shield for the Lord their God. But when Israel called for a king (1 Samuel 8), they got more than just a king, they also got a full-time army with professional soldiers. And it was professional soldiers who faced the Philistines and the giant named Goliath.
When David came to face Goliath, he didn't know how to deal with armor and sword. He tried to put on Saul's armor, but the king was so much larger and David so inexperienced in using such things, that the young shepherd couldn't move. (1 Samuel 16:38-39) So David faced Goliath with only his everyday clothes, his sling, and five stones. "But there was no sword in the hand of David." (1 Samuel 16:50b) That humble beginning as an amateur soldier is what makes David's rise to conquering king all the more astounding, plainly bringing glory to God, for David could not have gone from shepherd to soldier on his own.
But even King David the soldier understood his limitations, and he constantly sought the Lord's help in battles. What David understood is that just as he needed the Lord's help to win battles on the field, the Lord was also fighting and winning battles for His people's souls. Each victory over an enemy of Israel was a victory over God's spiritual enemies as well. The battles on the ground were tiny skirmishes compared to the warfare raging in the spiritual realm as Satan tried to wrest Israel from the hands of God. David therefore laid his arms at the feet of the Lord God and asked for victory over God's enemies and for His salvation.
We may like to think that we don't fight those kinds of battles anymore. After all, we live on the other side of the world, and while we are adopted sons and daughters of God, we are not Israel, not part of the twelve tribes. Our battles throughout the world, the front lines where our troops are stationed, are mainly political battles, national conflicts. The United States stands up for others as their champion and defender, and while our nation was founded on Christian principles, we don't wage war in the name of God.
But that doesn't mean we do not fight spiritual battles every day, and it does not mean we shouldn't turn to God and seek His salvation. As Christians, we have a spiritual target painted on our backs, and the slings and arrows of the devil are aimed squarely at us. Even as our American soldiers fight in far-flung corners of the world, here at home we wage war against powers and principalities that operate in much more subtle fashion to bring chaos and destruction to the lives of believers. The question is whether or not we are prepared to take up spiritual arms against such powers.
When it comes to spiritual battle we are all amateurs like young David, and we cannot fight these battles alone. We must turn to the Lord Jesus and ask Him to plead for us, to take up shield and buckler to fight for us, to stop those who pursue us. The spear was drawn from Jesus' side so that we need never face that wound, the thorns pierced His brow so we need never know that shame, the nails drew blood from His hands and feet so we might be washed clean of the guilt of our sins. And on the day of His Resurrection, Jesus told Thomas to touch His scars to confirm for himself that the price had been paid and the hope of our resurrection was real. (John 20:27)
We would do well to remember David's humble beginnings, to reflect on the shepherd who unified Israel. When we see ourselves like David--small and inexperienced--we will have no choice but to call upon God to be our salvation. Having no confidence of our own, we will cry out to Jesus to be our rock and our redeemer, our strength and our song.
Jesus fought and won the battle against Satan on the Cross. Covered by the blood of Christ, we need never face Satan the Accuser and the wrath of God. Jesus stands with us as our mediator, our defender. He carries the sword of the Lord--God's holy Word--and the shield of faith. Jesus is our Lion of Judah, the carpenter-king heir of the shepherd-soldier David. We may be amateurs, but Jesus Christ, Son of the Most High God, stands with us today and says, "I am your salvation."
Lord God in heaven, I am no match for Satan alone, but I know that You are. You alone are mighty to save, willing to stand before us and take what the accuser throws at us. You, Lord God, are Ruler and Judge, gracious and merciful, and I know it is only by your love that I stand today. Be my salvation, Father God. Amen.