Recently, my husband and I were searching Netflix for something to watch. We settled on an action movie but turned it off halfway through.
Don’t get me wrong. I like action movies as much as the gal next to me. Themes of courage and skill on the battlefield can be thrilling. But do I really need to see the person get their arm cut off? Is it necessary to see an arrow actually go into someone’s eye and then blood gush out all over his face?
Why can’t the director just cut to the grass or something? A scream of agony is completely sufficient for me to “get” the picture without actually having to “see” the picture.
But if I’m being honest, sometimes I feel that way when I’m reading passages in the Bible marked by the imagery of blood and guts. I don’t know if it’s a woman-thing or just me, but all that wrath makes me want to fast forward to nicer scenes in the Bible.
Case in point: Ps. 7.
In Ps. 7, the psalmist depicts God as a Warrior riding against sin on the battlefield.
He paints the following picture of God:
- He is sharpening his sword in vengeance (7:12)
- His bow and arrow are poised and ready to strike down those who rise against him (7:12)
- He makes instruments of death for battle including fiery arrows (7:13)
Ps. 7 fulfills all the quintessential images many unbelievers have of the God of the Bible – wrathful, vengeful, and full of anger. If you think I’m being unfair, consider SNL’s recent re-imaging of post-resurrection Jesus going on a killing spree.
But even I – knowing the whole story of Scripture – still squirm in my seat when I read passages like these. I want people to know and experience God’s love, his peace, his sacrifice, his servanthood, his mercy, his gentleness too.
I’m much more comfortable talking about the polite things of God rather than those grimy (albeit metaphoric) instruments of death referred to in this psalm.
So, what are we – quiet and gentle women of God – supposed to do with all that battle language? Here’s a few things to consider from Ps. 7:
1. God the Warrior is trustworthy (7:1).
David puts his trust in this all-powerful Warrior. Because this Warrior has proven himself to be trustworthy in David’s life already, David can trust him for the future.
Most of the Davidic psalms center on the Davidic covenant. God made certain promises to David to protect his seed (dynastic line) for eternal purposes. And despite circumstances, David knows God is trustworthy to fulfill those promises.
2. God the Warrior saves his people (7:2-10).
We like to think that we receive our salvation only through God’s positive (or kinder) attributes – his mercy, his love, his grace – manifested in the sacrifice of his sinless son on our behalf. We see that clearly in passages like Eph. 2:8-10, John 3:16, etc.
But the Israelites knew the grace and mercy of God’s salvation was wrought through the Arm of the Lord. It is by the Arm of the Lord that we find comfort & salvation (Is. 40:10-11; 52:10).
That’s because redemption is costly and occurs only through a battle. If we only think of our salvation in terms of the completed treaty, then we lose the horrific and priceless cost that brought the gospel to bear in our lives. As our Warrior, God delivers us from our enemy and defeats him, so we don’t have to step onto the battlefield.
3. God the Warrior is just (7:3-17).
The anger we observe God demonstrate in the Scriptures is linked to his righteousness. Those who meet his sword or receive his fiery arrows are described as deserving because they are “wicked” (7:11). In verses 14-16, these individuals are described as:
- bringing forth iniquity
- conceiving trouble
- bringing forth falsehood
- heading toward self-destruction
God does not indiscriminately plunge his sword into dissenters like a maniacal, hot-headed soldier a la Tarantino. He is meting out justice against the wicked and restoring peace to his kingdom. (Ps 11:5-6 tells us God hates the violence of the wicked!)
Ultimately, God accomplishes this justice by turning the sword on himself. Our Warrior takes aim at himself because it is only through his own death on the cross that he can permanently and eternally ensure a victory on the battlefield.
So, the next time you read an Old Testament passage full of ‘blood and guts’ and squirm under the heaviness of its battle language, remember these 3 things about our Warrior King:
- He is trustworthy.
- He always seeks our salvation.
- He is just.
All of which is realized in the forfeiture of his kingdom for our sake.
I’m thankful for this selfless Warrior who gets the job done for me without violating his character as holy and righteous. But even as I trust in him for my salvation, I will probably still avert my eyes during battle scenes.
In case you missed any of them, you can follow this Psalms series here.