The Word for today: Psalm 18:31-50
Wow, some pretty impressive feats are noted in the second half of this Psalm.
I know that we are talking about King David, but even he cannot “stand on the heights” with his “deer feet (1).” He could not actually “bend a bow of bronze (2) .” Even this mighty warrior did not have untwistable ankles (3), nor was capable of transforming his enemies into “dust” or “mud (4).” No, all these things are impossible for any man to accomplish.
Then again, it was also “impossible” for any man to do some of the other things that David really did. It was impossible for the unknown youngest son of a shepherd to be anointed as king of Israel. It was impossible for that same youngster to fell the mighty Goliath. I was impossible for him to survive so many years as a fugitive while maintaining his integrity.
But notice that even while David is describing in detail some of his accomplishments, he is directing us to the only reason any of these victories were ever won: Almighty God. It is God who arms and keeps and causes and trains and sustains and provides and delivers and subdues and saves. David, like all great men, knew that he was like a turtle on a fence post: however he got there, he didn’t do it by himself.
Horace Greeley was a prominent figure in America around the time of the Civil War. He was a prominent journalist (editor of the NY Tribune) and a prominent political figure (losing the 1872 Presidential election to Ulysses S. Grant). Given all his time in the world of media and politics, he certainly knew his share of self-important blowhards. A story is told of his encounter with one such individual. This man made the mistake of telling Greeley “I am a self made man.” To which Greeley replied “Well sir, that relieves God of a grave responsibility.”
The truth is, there is no such thing as a self-made man. While each of us certainly has a large part to play in our own lives, not one of us can say that anything good we have or have done was ultimately due to our own goodness or genius or whatever. The Apostle Paul asked the Corinthians “What do you have that you did not receive (5) ?” Great question, with an even better answer: nothing. All of our talents and skills, our birth and our background, the people who have taught and influenced us, the ability to work and laugh and play, and even life itself are all on loan from God.
And right here, David echoes these same sentiments, all to point us not to himself, but to the only One who can do the impossible. After all- that is the message of the Gospel: (6). God has done the impossible through His Son, Jesus Christ. So in the end, there are only two categories, clay that acknowledges its Potter, and clay that smugly pats itself on the back, forgetting that both the hand and the back belong to the actual Potter.
(1) Psalm 18:33
(2) Psalm 18:34
(3) Psalm 18:36
(4) Psalm 18:42
(5) 1 Corinthians 4:7
(6) Luke 1:37