Reading: Psalm 21
Your hand will lay hold on all your enemies;
your right hand will seize your foes.
When you appear for battle,
you will burn them up as in a blazing furnace.
The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath,
and his fire will consume them.
You will destroy their descendants from the earth,
their posterity from mankind.
Though they plot evil against you
and devise wicked schemes, they cannot succeed.
You will make them turn their backs
when you aim at them with drawn bow.
Be exalted in your strength, LORD;
we will sing and praise your might (NIV).*
I have a confession to make. The overall title of my blog is I Love the Psalms! But there are some psalms where the fondness runs very thin. That’s the case with this psalm portion. The pacifist side of me gets very uncomfortable with all this talk of God’s wrath burning like a consuming fire. My reasoning goes something like this: If God gets angry with others; I might be the next one dropped in the toaster.
In this psalm David paints a portrait of the LORD as a warrior. I’m not so sure I want to see the LORD as a fearsome warrior. I prefer to see Him as a gentle shepherd—the Good Shepherd—not a God of vengeance firing arrows at His foes. But if I have my way—if I see Him only as a meek shepherd—do I have a right picture of the LORD? Am I blind to an important side of His character? Is He both a warrior and a shepherd?
I can be guilty of shaping God according to my image—the likeness I prefer. But the god I create is not the true God. The true God is always greater, more awesome, fear-provoking, and loving than I can possibly imagine. Words on a page fall short—always fall far short—when we attempt to describe God.
As for this world, it’s inhabited by evil men. Some are heinously evil—monsters in human skin. Others by the mercy of God are filled with kindness. A measure of the grace of God is extended even to those who do not know Him. If God refused to rain judgment on the perpetrators of evil would He still be a good God? If this world were perfect, would we still long for heaven?
Who am I to judge God? Who am I to find fault with my Creator and His ways? Here is the conclusion: Ride on in the battle against evil, Warrior King. Shelter me in your arms, Good Shepherd.
Response: Heavenly Father, I confess I have an incomplete picture of you. I can never grasp or comprehend your fullness. I bow before you, LORD Almighty. In humility I worship you, the magnificent and perfect, I AM. Amen.
Your Turn: Has your picture of God changed over time? How has it become more biblically accurate?