June 30, 2017 • Life for Leaders
God is renowned in Judah; in Israel his name is great. His tent is in Salem, his dwelling place in Zion. There he broke the flashing arrows, the shields and the swords, the weapons of war.
Psalm 76 celebrates God’s victory over his enemies. Though we don’t know the specific events that inspired Asaph, the writer of this psalm, it surely commemorates some military victory of Israel over an army that sought to invade Jerusalem. Yet God “broke the flashing arrows, the shields and the swords, the weapons of war” (76:3).
When we read passages like this one in the Psalms, how are we to use them in our worship? Of course, we can join Asaph in rejoicing over God’s action in history. But is there more?
I would suggest that passages such as Psalm 76 inspire us to celebrate God’s greater victory. After all, we know that our true enemies are not human. As Paul writes, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12). God is at war with these ultimate enemies and we have joined his heavenly army.
The decisive battle in this war has already been fought and God has won. In fact, this happened in Jerusalem, as in Psalm 76 (or just outside of the city, to be precise). There, God in Christ “disarmed the powers and authorities [making] a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Col. 2:15). The proof of God’s victory was the resurrection. When God “raised Christ from the dead,” Christ took his rightful place “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come” (Eph. 1:20-21).
Psalm 76 prefigures the victory of God in Christ. In a way far beyond the literal sense of Asaph’s writing, “[God’s] tent is in [Jeru]Salem, his dwelling place in Zion. There he broke the flashing arrows, the shields and the swords, the weapons of war” (76:3) At Jerusalem, God broke the power of his cosmic enemies through the death and resurrection of Jesus. He broke the power of sin and death, opening to us the way of eternal life. Psalm 76 ignites within us a passion to celebrate the astounding victory of God in Christ.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Do you think of Christ’s death and resurrection in terms of God’s victory over his enemies? Why or why not?
What difference might it make for you that God defeated our cosmic enemies through Christ?
In what ways do you celebrate and participate in God’s victory?
All praise be to you, O God, because you are glorious and more majestic than the everlasting mountains.
All praise be to you, O God, because you plundered our boldest enemies, defeating them through the cross and resurrection.
All praise be to you, O God, because you broke the fiery arrows of the enemy in Jerusalem.
All praise be to you, O God, because you have invited us to live in the reality of your victory, even as we join you in the work of fully and finally defeating the powers of darkness.
All praise be to you, O God, our Savior and King. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: More Dazzling Than Mountains
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.