On this Veterans Day/Armistice Day weekend:
“Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me. O LORD, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow” (Psalm 144:1-4).
Many soldiers derive comfort from the beginning verses of Psalm 144. The words remind them that God protects and delivers, that he is a shield and refuge when under attack. The psalmist recognizes God’s governance of the nations and his working of his will through those to whom he has given the ministry of the sword (Romans 13:1-8). He also recognizes the love of God while declaring through this prayer of blessing and petition his own allegiance to the Lord. Prolonged exposure to combat can breed a weariness and cynicism in a soldier, but this one declares in verse nine that he will sing a new song to God who gives victory to kings and who rescues his servant.
He prays in verses five through eight that God will intervene, that God will strike out against those “whose mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood,” a petition he repeats in verse eleven. He prays in hope for a future of prosperity where his and people’s sons and daughters will flourish and there will be “no cry of distress in our streets.”
This is a prayer we can join with fervor in a time when we struggle to discern which news is “fake” and what is true, and when protesters from every side run to the streets to voice their distress. Meanwhile, soldiers continue to fight for their nations and for one another. As they train and as they fight, many thumb through worn Bibles and pray earnestly to the Lord, their Rock, who sustains them and gives them hope. The preaching service pictured with this post was not scheduled. The soldiers on the wall requested it as they and I were about to leave a location where they had escorted me as my security team so I could preach there. They too wanted to worship. I was honored to have the privilege to bring them good news that day. May we regain the ability to trust and to fight together for peace. May we not disdain or overlook opportunities to call upon the Lord and to sing a new song unto him. As the psalmist concludes,
“Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall! Blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!”
- Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version. Photograph was taken by Randy Eichelberger, Sr.
O Lord, our rock and our refuge, infuse us with zeal to perform the ministries to which you have called each of us. Fill our hearts with compassion for those who suffer and who struggle because they have sacrificed and been wounded in mind and body on our behalf. Help us to overhear their cries to you for deliverance and grant us the privilege to be your hands as you rescue. Heal our hearts. Remove the rage and selfishness; restore peace, altruism, and hope. Restore our voices so that together we may sing a new song to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.