“The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.” (Psalms 33:16-19)
The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. (Psalms 33:16-19)
In warfare, Generals often take stock of their money, materiel, and manpower to determine the odds of victory against an opponent. Strength of numbers is often viewed as the best determiner of defeating an enemy. But that is not always the best course of action.
When preparing to defend his nation, King David did something that infuriated the Lord. David took a census of his troops. David wanted to know exactly how many fighting men he had so he could decide how well he could protect his kingdom. King David’s hope for victory was in the size of his fighting force. He was using common earthly determinants to give him peace about his chances of winning. There was one major problem. God had already promised him victory. But instead of trusting the word of God, David decided to trust in the strength of his army. The results were devastating. David lost 70,000 men in one day.
While we cannot be certain, it is possible that this Psalm was written by David as a remembrance of that spiritual and tactical mistake. He wants us to remember to rely first and foremost on the strength of the Lord, and in his word to us. The Lord is the one who brings victory, not the generals, soldiers, or war horses. No matter how strong those are, God is stronger still. In 1944, during WWII, Gen George Patton circulated a letter to his troops that said in part, “Those who pray do more for the world than those who fight; and if the world goes from bad to worse, it is because there are more battles than prayers.”
If our life is going from bad to worse, maybe it could be that we are trusting in the wrong things. Maybe we are looking for others to rescue us from our situation. David reminds us that we need to valiantly turn to the Lord, trusting in his strength and power to deliver us from our situation. He may indeed and often does raise up others to come to our assistance, but it is still the Lord who delivers, and it is still the Lord who deserves our worship, trust, and praise.
Today is the day to put your utmost hope in the Lord, who loves you more than you could ever know, and who will deliver your soul from death and keep you alive in tough times. That is a promise from King David, who learned that lesson the hard way.
O Lord my Lord, forgive me when I ignore you in my times of trials. Forgive me when I forget about your great love, and your miracles. Help me to trust you first and always, and I will give you the praise and glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.