Back in the Trenches
Brian D. Dykstra, teacher at Hope PRCS in Walker, MI
Psalm 28:7: “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.”
Unless I have lost track, which is a possibility, the first Song-of-the-Week for the new school year comes from Psalm 28. This Psalm serves to remind us of the purpose of our schools.
Many of the Psalms have a military (or militant) theme which is not surprising when we recall David’s life. We know of David’s conflict with Saul, his fighting against Saul’s house after Saul’s death, his warfare against the Philistines and the rebellion of Absalom. However, we sometimes overlook David’s struggles when he watched his father’s sheep. Being a shepherd was not always a peaceful job where one could sit in a pasture and constantly count sheep. Before going out to meet the defiant challenge of Goliath, David recalled his killing a lion and a bear to protect the sheep. Militant Psalms are consistent with David’s life. In the age of forsaking truth for the sake of worldwide religious unity, such militant Psalms are not popular.
We and our children need to remember that we are part of the church militant. At school, our children do not always treat each other as they should. Harsh words are spoken and echoed. Angry looks are given and returned. As adults, we sometimes have disagreements about decisions relating to school policy. We do not expect total agreement all the time and brotherly disagreements are not bad. Yet, we must be careful that our children do not have the impression that we are the church militant because we fight, instead of disagree, among ourselves. We are a militant church because we fight against sin, evil and temptation.
In Psalm 28:1, David says that God is his rock. Rock sometimes refers to a natural shelter from storms, but it also refers to a sharp, natural formation which could be used as a fort. If other men had the success in battle which David had, they might have boasted of their own strength or ability to take care of themselves. David knew and confessed God to be his rock.
As a spiritual soldier, David also prays against his enemies by asking God to “Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours” (v. 4). Yet, David is careful in the definition of his enemies. He does not ask God to punish all of those unclean, uncircumcised Gentiles. Some of his countrymen might have agreed with such a prayer. By his own experience, David knew some Gentiles who served God as he did. His personal body guard, the Cherethites, Pelethites and Gittites were Philistines. Were all these Gentiles loyal to David only because they could share in the spoils of his military accomplishments or did some, or perhaps many, love David because of a shared love for Israel’s God? In verses three and five, David defines his enemies as those who are deceitful and do not regard the works of the Lord.
We, as members of the church militant, also need to recognize the enemy. David did not use a broad brush and paint all Gentiles as his enemies, nor did he assume all Israelites were loyal to him. As soldiers, we require spiritual discretion to recognize those who are true spiritual enemies.
Spiritual soldiers also need strongholds and shields. My concordance tells me that the word “strength” in verse seven is sometimes translated as stronghold (Nahum 1:7). We need a place where we can keep our weapons at hand and sharpened for battle. We can meet there with fellow soldiers to defend ourselves or go out in strength to meet the enemy.
Would anyone care to go to a biblical era battlefield without a shield? Battlefields are not friendly places. David knew better than to propose to meet the enemy with a “group hug” to dispel all feelings of animosity. David’s second proposal would not have been to meet in conference with the enemy’s king to find “common ground” between Jehovah and the enemy’s idols. Our spiritual enemies do not have our well being in mind. They may say they have the good of all mankind at heart, if we were only to join them, but they are deceitful. The world tolerates sin and blasphemy in many forms, but it will not tolerate the truth as was evidenced by the world’s and the false church’s reaction when the Truth came in our flesh. We had better have the shield of faith as given by God because there are sure to be hostilities in our spiritual warfare.
Let’s rededicate ourselves to the support of our schools as members of the church militant. God will bless our efforts when performed in faith and in obedience to His command. What success as soldiers could any of us have if we were to rely on our own ability, strength or natural discretion? May God use the instruction given in our schools so our children confess God to be their rock, strength and shield. May our lives be a song of praise to Him.