Today I want to bring you some insight from a passage in Psalm 17. Before I do, I want to remind us of a very known bible verse that we constantly quote. It’s the one from Ephesians 6 and I love how the CJB versions puts it.
For we are not struggling against human beings, but against the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers governing this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm.Ephesians 6:12 CJB
Though this verse is written in the New Testament, it is a truth that is universal and timeless. It is certainly a truth that King David knew as he lived out his life, as he became a man after God’s own heart. In Psalm 17, David is asking God to protect him from the deadly enemies who surround him (17:9).
For most of the Psalm, David uses the plural. He calls them enemies, he says, “They are uncaring[…] They advance against me.” (17:10-11) Then in verse 13, he gets specific. He suddenly uses the singular before going back to the plural in verse 14.
Rise up, Lord! Confront him; bring him down. With Your sword, save me from the wicked. With Your hand, Lord, save me from men[…]Psalm 17:13-14
When I think of using a sword, I think of a deadly weapon used in combat. If you are wielding a sword against an enemy that is surrounding you, you’re more than likely going for a kill. At the very least, an incapacitating maiming, but more likely you’ll be going for a kill. There is no mercy in using a sword.
What is the Sword of God? His Word.
When I think about using a hand against an enemy, I think about self-defense. When using self defense, the main goal is to incapacitate your enemy enough that you can get away. Very rarely will you use your hand to kill someone. A hand may be softened in mercy.
There is Mercy in God’s hand. He reaches out with it to His creation.
So who is David talking to?
It may seem like we have many earthly enemies, but there is only one enemy that is truly deadly, the one who is described as “a lion roaming about seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) That enemy is Satan. Thankfully, God has already defeated him eternally, literally rising up from death in victory over this enemy.
In differentiating between the one enemy and the multiple surrounding him, David is saying, “With Your Sword kill (defeat) the one enemy who is the deadliest, the spiritual enemy who has truly set himself against You, God. But with Your hand, save me in a way that brings Your truth and mercy to the men surrounding me. Let their hearts be changed and their lives renewed, that they would turn from their wicked ways and see Your glory and mercy.”
What We Wield.
We are told to put on the full armor of God because we war against the forces of evil. We are to take up the sword of the Spirit against this spiritual enemy. We are called to make disciples of all nations.
Our true enemy isn’t the enemy we physically see or feel. It is the one who set himself against God.
When we war against the true enemy, we use the weapon of God’s word which is deadly. When we war against man, we must act with God’s hand of mercy. We have to look beyond the physical to the spiritual. We have to remember that the real enemy isn’t the face in front of us, but the spiritual power influencing them.
We should wield our weapons in hope that the men in front of us will be saved. That their eyes would be opened and their hearts softened. We must pray that the ones who surround us on all sides will have a true revelation of Jesus and be restored in truth to God the Father.
God will save anyone who seeks Him. He has displayed His faithful love by giving us a Savior Who can never be overcome, Who accepts all who earnestly call on Him. (Psalm 17:7) We have to remember that as we fight the good fight, as we live our lives on this earth for the glory of God.
We have to remember that God wars against the unrighteous enemy. He offers mercy to man but rages against the spiritual one who draws man away. He won’t relent in his fight against the unrighteous enemy, continually interceding for those He loves. God loves His creation. He would not have gone to the extent that He did to reconcile man to Him if He didn’t love us. Now we, as His body, must act in the same way. We must rage relentlessly against our spiritual enemy and offer mercy and justice to man.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm.