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Reading:                                        Psalm 118

(Verses 8-14)

It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in humans.
It is better to take refuge in the L
ORD
than to trust in princes.
All the nations surrounded me,
but in the name of the L
ORD I cut them down.
They surrounded me on every side,
but in the name of the L
ORD I cut them down.
They swarmed around me like bees,
but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns;
in the name of the L
ORD I cut them down.
I was pushed back and about to fall,
but the L
ORD helped me.
The L
ORD is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation
(NIV).

Reflection

Psalm 118 is perhaps the most militant psalm in the Bible. The psalmist assumes a combative stance. He is ready to take on the world and everything his adversaries can toss at him. These are the words of a fighter: All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the LORD I cut them down. They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the LORD I cut them down.

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Ice crystals formed by wave action on the Ottawa River — photo by David Kitz

Some may find the aggressive words of this psalm offensive. To be frank, I prefer the more passive psalms that speak of quiet waters, grassy hills and star-filled night skies, but life is more than tranquil repose. It also includes moments of conflict and combat. As the author of Ecclesiastes reminds us, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 9). There is a time to be conciliatory, but there also are times when we need to stand our ground and defend our faith and our way of life.

Joshua is a Bible character who exemplifies the attitude and intent of this psalm. He was a man on a mission. His mission, assigned to him by God, was the conquest of Canaan. If you read the Book of Joshua, you will discover that he pursued his mission with a ruthless passion that ultimately brought victory and success. In his farewell speech to the nation, Joshua had these words of advice: “The LORD has driven out before you great and powerful nations; to this day no one has been able to withstand you. One of you routs a thousand, because the LORD your God fights for you, just as he promised. So be very careful to love the LORD your God” (Joshua 23:9-11).

The God of peace is also the God who fights for you. Very little in this life is accomplished without rugged determination and a fighting spirit. Joshua proved that great nation-changing things are possible when we move forward with courage and tap into the power of God.     

Response: Father God, there are battles that you want me to fight. Help me to personally tap into your power. Give me courage to stand for you and your truth though a thousand oppose me. Amen.

Your Turn: Are there great things that God has called you to accomplish? Is He fighting for you?