Today’s Lectio Divina: Excerpts from Psalm 76. (MsgB)
An Asaph Psalm.
God is well-known in Judah; in Israel, He’s a household name.
He keeps a house in Salem, His own suite of rooms in Zion.
That’s where, using arrows for kindling, He made a bonfire of weapons of war.
Oh, how bright You shine! Outshining their huge piles of loot!
The warriors were plundered and left there impotent.
And now there’s nothing to them, nothing to show for their swagger and threats.
Your sudden roar, God of Jacob, knocked the wind out of horse and rider.
In our last blog entry, we discussed the uniqueness of Israel’s God as compared to the many other gods of other surrounding nations. Without a doubt, when God arrives on the scene in Moses’ day, delivering His people from nearly 500 years of slavery, Israel is now given a whole new picture of their amazing God. Once known only as the Elohim (god) of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; now I-AM-WHO-I-AM is known as the Warrior King. A God who no longer stands off to the side, remaining cold and unattached, but a personalized God who steps right into the mess God’s people are in, bringing justice and righteousness to an otherwise unjust situation. As Asaph sings here in Psalm 76…
God is well-known in Judah, a house-hold name in Israel…knocking the wind out of horse and rider.
This psalm is very reminiscent of the Song of Moses, found back in Exodus 15…
I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver He has hurled into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him.
The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is His name.
A quick review of the Old Testament finds that this Warrior King, this I-AM-WHO-I-AM God, who once delivered Moses and God’s people from a world power like Egypt, displays His powerful arm of deliverance again and again when Israel calls upon His Holy Name.
At first glance, some may look at these stories of war and bloodshed found in God’s Word and believe that Israel’s God is pretty much like the gods of other warring nations. Onuris served as Egypt’s god of war, revered by Pharaoh as the unstoppable god who stands erect to make war on Egypt’s enemies. Neith was the Egyptian goddess of war, having as her symbol two arrows crossed over a shield. In Greek mythology, Ares and Athena were the god and goddess of war, while in Rome; Mars served as both the god of war and fertility! Quite a combination, don’t you think?
But unlike other warring gods from other nations, Israel’s Warrior King was unique in His interest in stopping war. Verse 3 of Psalm 76 points out that I-AM-WHO-I-AM uses arrows for kindling, making a bonfire of weapons of war.
So think again, if you believe the God of our Bible is a God who loves war, who rages against His enemies, and enjoys slaughtering innocents and children. In truth, this Warrior King is a God of justice, peace and righteousness, whose primary interest is sending His Son, the Prince of Peace, to a world where war seems to never end.
A good reminder to us, as I see it. In a world that clamors for holy war, calling upon the gods to destroy our enemies, YHWH is the singular God of the nations who looks to burn up our weapons of war; using men’s guns, tanks, and atomic bombs as kindling!
My prayer: Thank You, God, that You stand head and shoulders above the warring gods of other cultures. Rather than being a god who wars for war’s sake, You are the God of Peace, who wars for righteousness and justice in a world where those things are hard to find. May Your Kingdom rule and reign, in peace and righteousness and justice, forever and ever. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So how have I mis-interpreted the Scriptures and made the God of our Scriptures into a god of war, destroying and conquering others just for the sake of doing so? How can I go deeper into my understanding of His character and nature, seeing Him as the Warrior King, but also as the One who actually desires to burn up our weapons of war?
So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?
Over a 50-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Sustainable Faith-Heartland network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.
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