He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up.
One cannot study long the songs of David without being deeply impressed that, for David, life was a battle. His poetry is shot through with complaints about unfair treatment, about enemies who laid traps for him and who slandered his name. Here is verse four:
My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.
So often we look to the Psalms to see the profound expressions of trust in God. That’s great, but these are brought on by the crises David faced, day by day and year by year. Should reading the Psalms remind us – even convince us – that life is a battle? That we are not spending our days sailing, unopposed and in the favor of some kind wind.
I wonder if faith is even possible if we do not see the enemy, if we do not understand the stakes. David’s foes, although deadly, were at least clearly defined. He knew who opposed him. They were flesh and blood. Men of a rival nation who wanted to defeat Israel. In our time the enemy, as Bob Dylan reminds us, is “subtle:”
The enemy is subtle
Howbeit we’re deceived
When the truth’s in our hearts
And we still don’t believe.
Bob Dylan, “Precious Angel”
Here is Paul, writing to the church at Ephesus:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
I wonder if we can really know God experientially; have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if we don’t recognize that there is a war going on and that we are in it; if we do not recognize that we face opposition – even opposition other than our own divided hearts?