The Ruthlessness of Running

I pursued my enemies and overtook them;
    I did not turn back till they were destroyed.
I crushed them so that they could not rise;
    they fell beneath my feet.
You armed me with strength for battle;
    you humbled my adversaries before me.
You made my enemies turn their backs in flight,
    and I destroyed my foes.
They cried for help, but there was no one to save them—
    to the Lord, but he did not answer.
I beat them as fine as windblown dust;
    I trampled them like mud in the streets.
You have delivered me from the attacks of the people;
    you have made me the head of nations.
People I did not know now serve me,
foreigners cower before me;
    as soon as they hear of me, they obey me.
They all lose heart;
    they come trembling from their strongholds. Psalm 18:37-45

Here we find David listing some of his conquests and how he was ruthless when he set out to destroy his enemies. He had no mercy with his enemies, none whatsoever. Why? Probably because they would would have had even less mercy with David.

We also have an adversary, who has no mercy with us. He “dogs us” wherever we go, whatever we say, and whatever we do. He is a roaring lion who tried to intimidate and humiliate. He spares no expense for us to sin and succumb to his ways. We know some of his tactics and methods that would seek to trip us up and have us fall flat on our faces.

Sometimes, though, we think we can outmaneuver or outflank him. We think we can outsmart him and beat him at his own game. It rarely if ever ends that way.

If we were truly wise, every time we recognize the adversary’s tactics, we’d call on God and run as far from Satan as we could. In fact, 1 Corinthians 10:13 teaches that very tactic:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

There’s a way out every time. We don’t walk towards the temptation but run away from it. And we need to be ruthless about that tactic.

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Our Strength

He trains my hands for battle;
    my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You make your saving help my shield,
    and your right hand sustains me;
    your help has made me great.
You provide a broad path for my feet,
    so that my ankles do not give way. Psalm 18:34-36

David seems to be taking an inventory of his skills. These are the skills that the Lord himself has helped David with. He knows that he didn’t earn any of his skills but was endowed with them. He was strong because the Lord trained him. He was protected because God has been his shield. And he had sure footing because the Lord gave it to him.

Yes, David still had to work out to build up his strength, learn how to protect himself in hand-to-hand combat, and practice maneuvers that would keep him agile and mobile, but that’s not the point.

Ultimately King David knew where his strength lay: in God Almighty. He couldn’t rely on his strength, defense, or agility in the same way we might try to rely on ours. We know very well whet happens when we rely on our own abilities. But when they are turned over to the Lord for his purposes, we can certainly have the confidence that King David had when he wrote these verses.

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For who is God besides the Lord?
    And who is the Rock except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength
    and keeps my way secure.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
    he causes me to stand on the heights. Psalm 18:31-33

Have you ever seen a deer or elk or ram on the top or side of a rocky mountain? They got there themselves because they are sure-footed and agile. They know their abilities or else they wouldn’t be up there. Being on the side of a mountain is one of their defense mechanisms because not every creature is so sure-footed.

King David has confidence in the Lord God Almighty. His security isn’t in his fighting abilities (which we will examine tomorrow) or his strength. No, David is sure-footed in his belief that no matter what comes his way, the Lord will provide for him. The ground he stood on, despite the potential slippery nature, was as solid as if he were in the middle of a field.

Many reading this are perhaps going through troubled and fragile circumstances. You keep “sliding” and it seems you’re about ready to slide down the entire mountain. Reach out and call to Him for that security. You say you’ve done that already? Do it again and again and again and again and again.

The compassionate, loving God is there for you, for me.

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Once a Forever

As for God, his way is perfect:
    The Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him. Psalm 18:30

When’s the last time you met a perfect person who had perfect reasoning, perfect wisdom, perfect motives, perfect character traits, perfect counsel, perfect outlook into the future, a perfect past, and perfect insight?

There’s only ever been One who met all those traits. There will only ever be One.

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After God’s Own Heart

For I have kept the ways of the Lord;
    I am not guilty of turning from my God.
All his laws are before me;
    I have not turned away from his decrees.
I have been blameless before him
    and have kept myself from sin.
The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
    according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight. Psalm 18:21-24

King David repeats what he’s said previously.

Both  Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22 state the same thing, that David was a man after God’s own heart.

But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.

And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.

And yet we know that David was a big sinner, how does that jibe? Yes, David was a sinner, and he and his family paid dearly for his sins. But he also able to realize the “error of his ways” when confronted. When people pointed out his sins, he could have easily had them executed on the spot, but despite his great faults, even he realized that he could not run away from his sin and failures.

As David would later would say in Psalm 51, “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” And God did indeed desired David to have that broken spirit, the spirit he desires us all to have if we are to grow.

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