God Of Our Setbacks

“Who will bring me to the strong city?  Who will lead me to Edom?  Is it not You, O God, who cast us off?  And You, O God, who did not go out with our armies?  Give us help from trouble,

For the help of man is useless.  Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies.”  Psalm 60:9–12

Over the last several posts I’ve made reference to a season that many of you may not be familiar with, the season of war. Most of you are on intimate terms with the four seasons:  spring, summer, fall, winter, as those seasons present themselves in the part of the world where you live. But the season of war? What’s that about?

In ancient times kings and princes of the Middle East gained renown and status among their their peers and established a name that would be remembered by two things: the monuments and buildings they erected and the wars they won. 

Sending out a few bands to make raids wasn’t that difficult and could be done at almost anytime if necessary but waging war was a much more cumbersome process. Many more people had to be moved and sheltered in the same place. Providing all the food necessary for them in a remote location could also be a challenge. For these reasons, and others, wars were usually planned to take place after the spring rains during the summer months. 

After David had been established as king, Israel was called on to defend some of its northern territories from the incursions of the Syrians and Mesopotamians. The nation of Edom, to the south and east of Israel, decided that forcing David to divided his army was a good strategy and waged an attack as well. 

From the tenor of most of Psalm sixty one gets the impression that the initial impact of the combined attacks of Syria and Edom had been quite devastating for Israel. Verses one, two and three carry the message that God is somehow displeased with Israel and is punishing them by allowing their enemies to overcome them.

After having vented his initial dismay, and cleansed himself of his immediate fear, David seems to remember God’s promises to his people, that he will give them the land and make them a great nation. Having remembered this the tone of the psalm changes. David has not forgotten the losses they’ve suffered at the beginning of the campaign but his remembrance that God is with them gives him light and hope as he makes his plans to renew his defense of his people. 

Sometimes it may feel like God has abandoned us to the ravages of this sinful world. Illness can consume nearly all the resources a family has be they financial, emotional, or spiritual. Economic downturns can quickly upset the fragile balance of a families sense of security. Social changes and alterations in family dynamics can make us feel like someone has taken our lives and shaken them till all that’s left is broken and disjointed pieces. 

In times of trouble we need to remember, like David did, that God’s never far away. He’s always there to help. While in the middle of the trial or setback we may not understand what his purpose is for working the way he does but still we can trust him to keep us and carry us through. 

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