Today, Monday May 29
The Tragedy of War
To the Chief Musician. Set to ‘Lily of the Testimony.’ A Michtam of David. For teaching. When he fought against Mesopotamia and Syria of Zobah, and Joab returned and killed twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.
“O God, You have cast us off; You have broken us down; You have been displeased; Oh, restore us again! You have made the earth tremble; You have broken it; Heal its breaches, for it is shaking. You have shown Your people hard things; You have made us drink the wine of confusion. You have given a banner to those who fear You, That it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah
That Your beloved may be delivered, Save with Your right hand, and hear me. God has spoken in His holiness: "I will rejoice; I will divide Shechem And measure out the Valley of Succoth. Gilead is Mine, and Manasseh is Mine; Ephraim also is the helmet for My head; Judah is My lawgiver. Moab is My washpot; Over Edom I will cast My shoe; Philistia, shout in triumph because of Me." Who will bring me to the strong city? Who will lead me to Edom?
Is it not You, O God, who cast us off? And You, O God, who did not go out with our armies? Give us help from trouble, For the help of man is useless. Through God we will do valiantly, For it is He who shall tread down our enemies.”
Ever since sin entered the human race there has been conflict. It is the battle of the ages, and it has never changed because it is the conflict between good and evil. The first two people born on earth, Cain and Abel, had conflict such that it ended with Cain killing Abel. You don’t go far into Genesis and the world is divided into the nations and language groups as the population grew (Genesis 11). Then when you get to Genesis 14, war is mentioned for the first time.
My friend, according to Scripture these wars will continue until the end of time when Jesus Christ defeats the armies of Satan for the last time and He sets up His eternal kingdom as described in Revelation 21. But until then every generation has experienced the tragedy of war with all its confusion, chaos, suffering and division.
And it was no different even for David after he had established his kingdom. 2 Samuel 7:1 says that the Lord gave him rest from all his enemies all around. But by the time you get to 2 Samuel 8, you find David fighting with the Philistines in the west again and the Arameans (Syrians) in the north. You can read about these battles in 2 Samuel 8:1-14; 10:6-18; and 1 Chronicles 18:1-13; 19:6-19. David was winning these battles and getting a name for himself (2 Sam. 8:13).
But while he was up north fighting the Arameans (Syrians), the Edomites attacked Israel from the south, doing a great deal of damage. David dispatched Joab with part of the army, and Joab and Abishai (1 Chron. 18:12) defeated Edom in the Valley of Salt, south of the Dead Sea. David must have written the psalm shortly after hearing the bad news of the invasion by Edom, but the psalm manifests a spirit of trust and confidence that the Lord would give Israel the victory, and He did.
As you read Psalm 60 it appears when the Edomites attack from the south that Israel felt abandon and were a troubled people (vv. 1-5). The plural pronouns indicate that David was speaking to the Lord for the Israelites who felt themselves abandoned by God. The initial victory of Edom hit Israel like water bursting through a broken dam (v. 1; 2), or an earthquake shaking the entire country (v. 2). The people acted like they were drunk on wine, staggering in bewilderment from place to place (v. 3). David interpreted Israel's defeat as a sign that God had rejected His people. However, being a man of faith, he didn't give up but rallied the people around the Lord's banner (v. 4). Israel's God is "Jehovah Nissi—the Lord our Banner" (Ex. 17:15). David knew that Israel was God's own people, His beloved people ("David" means "beloved") who feared Him, and that God had covenanted to give them success against their enemies (2 Sam. 7:9-11). In David's heart, faith was conquering fear.
In verses 6-8, David and the people get a great word of encouragement. How David received this message from the Lord isn't explained to us, but he was quick to believe it and pass it along to the people. The message describes Jehovah as a Warrior who defeated the nations in Canaan and divided the land among His people (vv. 6-7). David claimed these promises by faith, sent part of the army led by Joab and Abishai to the south to fight Moab, and later David joined them for a great victory. Fighting on two fronts isn't easy, but God gave the victory.
Today, on this Memorial Day we can give the Lord thanks for the past victories our nation has enjoyed over its enemies because of those who were willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of freedom!