God Defeated the Enemy in Jerusalem
Jerusalem is where he lives;
Mount Zion is his home.
There he has broken the fiery arrows of the enemy,
the shields and swords and 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 “has broken the fiery arrows of the enemy, the shields and swords and 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 we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities in the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in heavenly places” (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 (or just outside of the city, to be precise). There, God in Christ “disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross” (Col. 2:15). The proof of God’s victory was the resurrection. When God “raised Christ from the dead,” he took his rightful place “far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world, but also in the world 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, “Jerusalem is where [God] lives; Mount Zion is his home. There he has broken the fiery arrows of the enemy, the shields and swords and weapons of war.” 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 FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you think of Christ’s death and resurrection in terms of God’s victory over his enemies? What difference might it make for you that God defeated our cosmic enemies through Christ?
PRAYER: 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.
Here’s how . . . .
This devotional comes from The High Calling: Everyday Conversations about Work, Life, and God (www.thehighcalling.org). You can read my Daily Reflections there, or sign up to have them sent to your email inbox each day. This website contains lots of encouragement for people who are trying to live out their faith in the workplace. The High Calling is associated with Laity Lodge, where I work.