Israel had trust issues.
Despite God’s unfailing love, unrelenting faithfulness, they so rarely managed to trust him for salvation. Had he rescued them from captivity in Egypt? Of course—dramatically. Had he delivered them into the Promised Land despite the size and strength of the inhabitants? Yup. Had he saved them from foreign yokes? Time and time again, whether Moabite, Edomite, Philistine.
And yet, whenever trouble threatened, they couldn’t seem to remember how faithful he had been. Rather than trust him, they put their trust in the flesh—treaties with Egypt or Assyria, size of the standing army, diplomatic bribes.
The unnamed author of Psalm 33 points out the folly of this approach:
The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue. (33:16-17, ESV)
Now I’m not much for trusting in standing armies or looking to foreign powers for deliverance, but I still see this Israelite tendency in my own heart.
You see, I am my own war horse.
I trust in myself. I trust that I can handle what comes my way in the strength of my flesh. I trust I can carry out my God-given responsibilities—husbanding my wife, parenting my children, shepherding my church—on my own. I trust in the earthen vessel, not the treasure within.
I can prepare an adequate sermon because of my theological training. I can structure a discipleship ministry through my past experience. I can instruct and discipline my children based on any number of books I have read.
I am my own war horse. God help me! What hope do I have if I depend on myself?
If I trusted in God and not myself, I would pray more. I would dwell in his Word more. I would humble myself more. I would seek his face before I sought an answer or action step or vision or strategy.
The battle is the Lord’s, the victory is his, and the fame will rightly be his too.
“But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love” (Psalm 33:18, NIV).