Please enjoy the following devotional written by Ascent College faculty member Dr. Diane McGehee as part of our “Psalms in the Summer” series.
Blessed be the Lord, my rock,
who trains my hands for war,
and my fingers for battle;
He is my steadfast love and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield and he in whom I take refuge,
who subdues people under me.
O Lord, what is man that you regard him… (Psalm 144:1-3, ESV)
Have you heard the phrase (or something similar): “God will give you what you need for the task He’s called you to do,” but then as you looked at what you had available you wondered when God will begin giving you what you need? Or have you ever looked around at what you are doing and thought, “What in the world does what I’m doing have to do with the task I know God has called me to do?” I wonder how many times David, anointed to be the king of Israel, asked the Lord just what did running from Saul, who was the current king, and constantly fighting battles have to do with his anointing to be the king. What we do find in verses 1-3 of this psalm, is David pausing to give the Lord praise and thanks for the training and tools God placed in his hands, for the Lord’s abiding presence, and for a sense of significance and value.
1. Tools and Training for Lifetime Learning. “Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle” (vs. 1). Lifetime learning—I don’t know about you, but I tend to develop tunnel vision, especially when it comes to tasks I know are God assignments, often falling prey to thinking I know what tools I need to have to accomplish the task. This has caused me to wrestle against what I think of as unnecessary—the “why do I need to learn that” and “why am I being slowed down by this”—events that happen. The truth is, I do not know what is needed for my life’s journey as a disciple of Jesus Christ. However, I am now able to look back and see how even the “unnecessary” tools and training, along with the wrestling, were preparing and training me to walk more fully in His calling. God is the source of our calling, and He has the playbook for how you can accomplish that calling already mapped out. What is far more important is our calling to be His witnesses—to represent Him to people who do not yet know Him. That calling is an ongoing process of growing in our faith and dependency on Christ. That means acknowledging that even the “unnecessary” and the times of wrestling are tools and training that God uses as part of His strategy in His school of Lifetime Learning.
2. The Lord’s Abiding Presence. “He is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and He in whom I take refuge…” (vs 2). In the midst of pursuing God’s calling and trudging through the training for the tools God is placing in our hands, it is easy to lose sight of our need to nurture intimacy with God, to lean into that awareness of the Lord’s abiding presence. Abiding: steadfastness, unshakable, and long-lasting are all synonyms of the word “abiding”. This verse reminds us that in every academic course that must be taken, every task that we must endure, even those times we are absolutely convinced we’re total failures, we can find God’s presence. Recently a road detour led me through 20 miles of dusty, gravel country roads. Worse yet, I was behind a semi-truck the entire time. There were times, due to the dust the truck was kicking up, I could not even see the taillights of the truck, the sides of the road, or even if there were cars approaching. As my eyes strained to see anything ahead and my hands clenched the steering wheel, I found myself saying, “Lord, I know You’ve got this… Lord, I know You’ve got this… Lord, I know You’ve got this…” In your everyday doing and being, intentionally recognize and seize it as an opportunity to draw closer to the Lord and then take refuge and rest in the Lord’s abiding presence.
3. Significance and Value. “Oh Lord, what is man that you regard him or the son of man that you think of him?” (vs 3). You have significance and value TO GOD! You are not merely students but recipients of His grace, and He has called you and formed you with purpose. His investment in your continued growth by giving you the tools and training for lifetime learning and His abiding presence in every aspect of your life speak enormously of the significance and value God places upon each of us. And to think, God is…well, God, creator of all who can choose what He wants to place value on and how much value He wants to place on each created thing. He has chosen you to participate in His missional purposes. He believes in you, and He has placed phenomenal value on you! Why? Because He formed you to fulfill the purposes for which He created you and to which He has called you.
Prayer: “You continue to place in my hands the tools for accomplishing Your calling on my life and are training me how to use those tools. You have also given me the promise that Your abiding presence will be with me through everything. You are my Source of strength, of knowledge, of strategy, and even rest. It will be You who is at work bringing all things, including the things of my life, into submission before You. Admittedly, I do not understand why you place such significance and value on humanity, especially on me. We rebel against You, we struggle with Your reasoning, and we can be so insistent and stubborn about doing life the way we want to…yet, You remain steadfast, unshakable, ever-abiding in Your love for us—for me. Like David, I simply say, “Blessed be the Lord, my Rock. Lord, I give You praise and thanks for the training and tools You have placed in my hands, for Your abiding presence, and for seeing me as significant and of value to You and Your Kingdom. Amen.”