The king is not saved by a mighty army; A warrior is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a false hope for victory. … Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name. Psalm 33:16-18, 20-21
Imagine an epic battle, fought with thousands of horsemen, swords swinging, slow-motion cameras catching their grimaces and mighty blows. The music swells in the background, our hero charges forth to win his cause, his steed’s mane flowing and nostrils flaring. Strength. Great, manly, strength.
We draw those images from movies, but back when this Psalm was written, those battles weren’t the stuff of popcorn and date night. That was real life … and real death. Nations stood or fell on battles like that. Individual lives were torn apart, women and children of defeated nations sold into slavery … all because of battles fought by kings leading soldiers on horseback. So, it would stand to reason that those real-life people would put their hopes in strong warriors and exceptional horses. They were the strongest things on earth.
But those sources of strength were false hopes for victory. And pondering that led me to question myself: What are false hopes for victory today?
For an army, perhaps it is the strength of their tanks and missiles, or maybe the wisdom of their commanders.
For me, it is often my own ability to do the right thing. I (mistakenly) think that I can be good enough, moral enough, loving and kind enough to win personal victories – to overcome temptation, to triumph over negative thoughts, to achieve happy relationships. But my own strength will fail me. It has failed me. It is failing me. In every verb tense, my own good works wither.
I am strong enough to gain victory over my own faults and also in the spiritual battles that rage around me only as much as I rely completely on God. The moment I begin to give myself the credit is the moment I stumble.
My soul waits for God. He is my help and my shield in every conflict I face, during every heartache and every exhausting trial. God alone is my knight in shining armor – no man, mentor, friend, job, hobby, house, or more pleasing situation will ever fulfill me or be strong enough to win my battles for me. My strength is in God alone.
May I remember that this week.