Another thing, though, that you will quickly notice if you read all 150 Psalms straight through is that many of them are loaded with military references about enemies and foes coming to take the land. There are verses like Psalm 27:3 which say, “Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident.” Great paranoia is found in Psalm 31:13 when the psalmist writes, “For I hear the whispering of many- terror all around!- as they scheme together against me, and plot to take my life.” Other psalms get down and dirty and call for the Lord to literally fight on our behalf. “Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me! Take hold of shield and buckler, and rise up and help me! Draw the spear and javelin against my pursuers” (Psalm 35:1-3). Here the psalmist calls for God to go to war on his behalf, literally taking up arms against the enemy.
Reading psalm verses like these makes me scratch my head a little bit when thinking about how they relate to life in our world. I have never been to war and war has never come to me. The same is not true for all of us. Still, I think even those who have been to war will agree with me that they are glad that our country is not a combat zone. So how do these psalms relate to our lives when we have not had to worry about enemy armies storming through our cities? How do these prayers relate to us today?
I think these psalm verses still have meaning today because there are forces that greatly affect our lives but are out of our control. Like an army of Babylonians or Assyrians, sometimes things just happen which threaten our well-being, our future, and, definitely, any sense of peace we have. Be it a cancer diagnosis, ebbs and flows of hay, cattle or milk prices, uncertainty about positions in the school system, struggles in our relationships which get away from us, or anything else, there are still forces and events in our lives which can feel like an enemy horde amassed at the city gates. These are times when there is probably nothing you can do to figure things out, work your way out of it, or anything like that; just have faith for better days to come.
But in these moments when the only certainty that remains is our faith in the unseen God, we are reassured by these words from another psalm: “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge” (Psalm 46:10-11).