August 5, 2017

In God’s army for a reason . . .

The passages in today’s devotional from “Grace for Today . . .” sent me on a hunt for the meaning of Psalm 110:3 only to find that there are at least seven interpretations. However, all of them point to the power of God’s Messiah to rule over His enemies and use His willing warriors in that battle. The passage in the English Standard Version says:

“The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’ The Lord sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours.” (Psalm 110:1–3)

Most Bible versions are similar to this one, but there are interpretation problem with the figures of speech in verse 3. One commentary simplifies the gist of the verse this way:

“This difficult verse presents seven essential ideas concerning the subjects of Messiah. (1) He would have a people who followed him. (2) This people would be in willing subjection to him. (3) The existence of this people would be a result of Messiah’s power. (4) This people would appear before Messiah in great beauty—in robes of holy adorning or priestly garments. (5) From “the womb of the dawn,” i.e., the very beginning of his reign Messiah would have such a group of followers. (6) The followers would display the vigor of youth, i.e., they would be filled with zeal for his cause. (7) The followers would bring refreshment to the barren world like the morning dew rejuvenates parched ground.” (Smith, James E. The Wisdom Literature and Psalms. Old Testament Survey Series.)

In the other devotional passage, Jesus explains how those following Him, the Messiah, would become this army of people who offer themselves freely:

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:35–40)

The Father draws an army of believers and makes them secure as His people. Psalm 110 says He puts them into battle, but this is no ordinary battle. It is God dealing with evil and He requires holy warriors to fight this war. Holiness is often depicted in the psalms as the adornment of priests who have consecrated themselves to the Lord before going into battle. In other words, to do spiritual warfare, one must be both willing and walking in a godly manner when interceding for those who oppose God. Such enemies (both spiritual and physical) cannot thwart holy warriors.

These who fight with the Lord are compared to the dew of the morning, suggesting freshness and glittering numbers who appear early with youthful vigor. They are robed as priests yet battle as God’s soldiers.

These terms are poetic. That is, the “womb of the morning” is probably expresses the east, or the dawn, and the “dew of your youth” may express refreshment, implying that the Messiah has continual sources of fresh energy. This verse also suggests willing soldiers as numerous as the dewdrops. Yet varied interpretations are possible because the original language is not clear.

In my study, I found this thought and it expresses my response to today’s Scriptures: His victories are gained by His word and Spirit, that is, He subdues hearts by the illumination of the mind. That applies both to the hearts of warriors made willing, and enemies put under His feet. No one can resist the One to whom God draws to the Son, whether it is to service as soldiers, or to bow in acknowledgement that He is Lord.

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9–11)

Lord Jesus, I’m thankful that the Father has drawn me to love and serve You with a willing heart. Some of that service involves spiritual warfare against those who oppose You, yet the Bible is clear — eventually every knee will  bow and every tongue confess that You are Lord. Right now, I am rejoicing that I am one of the willing ones, even as I pray for Your grace in the hearts and minds of those who are not willing — yet. You are urging me to continue in this war (I often am tired of praying) because You are powerful to save. You have enlisted me to fight with You and not give up because no matter how it may appear, You rule now and eventually everyone will acknowledge You are Lord.

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