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Scaling Walls

With your help I can advance against a troop;
with my God I can scale a wall.

Psalm 18:29

For most of us, war is something far removed from the reality of our lives. We hear the sounds of battles on radios, see them on screens inside our homes, but it’s all far away. To people living in war, we live like kings! Peace, prosperity! It’s like the ending of a fairy tale – living happily ever after.

But just because we enjoy peace, do we live happily every after? Many of us experience moments of unhappiness in our lives. Sometimes great unhappiness. Reality is that there are still battles to fight. Each has to fight his own battles. Battles with loneliness, grief. Terminal disease, chronic illness. Handicaps. Wounds of sexual abuse. Family conflict, straying children. Disappointment, failure. The reality of pain, tears, helplessness – it’s all there in these personal battles.

And sometimes the difficulties of battle get the better of us. Sometimes you may wonder how you’re going to get through. You can’t even think about tomorrow, because you’re having enough trouble trying to survive today! It’s stressful, draining. Sometimes it’s even too much.

But the real battle isn’t just with the pain and misery of it all. It’s the battle against sin! Sin causes us to be discontented instead of content, to give up instead of fighting. To envy others who don’t have to fight the battles that we do. To complain, selfishly thinking about ourselves first instead of God and our neighbour. Sin is the real problem in our battles! Altogether, it can bring you to the edge . . . that you say: I can’t do it anymore.

David also lived like a king. He was a king. For David, living as king didn’t mean enjoying peace. It meant fighting battles. In Psalm 18, David looks back at those battles he fought. As he reflects on those battles, he asks, “How did I get the strength to deal with those battles? How did I make it through alive?”

Those battles were very real. David mentions advancing against a troop. That was a strong force of soldiers. The band of Amalekites who raided Ziklag was a troop that David faced with only 400 men (1 Sam 30). He also mentions scaling walls. He faced such a wall of a fortress when he captured Jerusalem. The people on the walls of a fortress had all the advantages. Even the people in Jerusalem were convinced that David didn’t have any hope of defeating them, saying, “Even the blind and lame can ward you off!” (2 Sam 5). Those are the kinds of battles David had to face, and many more!

Maybe you think: “But David was a mighty warrior. I’m no mighty warrior, no hero. In my battles I’m often a weakling ready to give up.” But David wasn’t a mighty warrior in his own strength! He knew exactly what it was to be weak and ready to give up! “The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me” he confesses (v. 4). In other words, I’m helpless!

But in his distress, realizing his helplessness, David turns to God for help! Knowing that you’re helpless, that God alone can help – that’s not a sign of spiritual weakness. That’s true humility, dependence on God. That’s reality for all of life! Believers are not Houdinis. When cords of death and despair entangle us, we can’t get out on our own!

But here’s God’s goodness: When you are helpless, God gives help! When you are weak, God is your strength! “With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.” God makes it possible for David to survive, even to conquer and win! With your help, with my God – that’s the key! Only because “David found strength in the Lord his God” (1 Sam 30:6) could he conquer the Amalekite troop, overcome the Jebusite fortress with its impressive walls. David is the one who advances against the troop, who scales the wall. But David says: “One hundred percent God. With my God I did it all, without my God I couldn’t do any of it.”

Why is powerful God so concerned with weak David, that powerful God provides weak David with the strength he needs for his battles? Because David’s battles are God’s battles! David is King David, God’s king, fighting battles for God’s glory. These are battles that peak with David’s son, Jesus Christ, who had to fight the ultimate battle for God’s glory. But King Jesus crushed the troop, scaled the wall, won the victory. It’s in light of that victory, that God gives David all the strength he needs. For David is a believer in Christ, and shares in Christ by true faith. That’s also how it works for us. The battles continue, the troops are still out, the walls are still up. But in the battle, you’re a member of Christ. You share in Christ, not only also in his kingship (LD12), but also in his victory, and the booty of war.

In your personal battles, the troop may seem too strong, the wall too high. Maybe you say, “I can’t do it.” Maybe when you see the difficult trials endured by others you say, “I don’t know how they cope, I could never do that.” You’re absolutely right. You can’t do it. But with your God you can! King David’s words can be said by kingly believers today: With my God I can advance against that troop, scale that wall! God doesn’t promise a life without battles, but He does promise strength in those battles! He gives his Word and Spirit to equip you in the good fight. Then you discover what David did: That with your God, what you thought impossible, is possible after all. You discover what Paul did: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil 4:13). The strategy David used to kill Uriah is one that God will never use on believing front-line soldiers today.

Rev. Richard E. Pot

Published in Clarion, Vol. 48 No. 18

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