The Warrior – from the Israel Museum
Years ago when I read the Book of Psalms I often wondered if King David might have been a little paranoid. He always seemed to have so many enemies chasing him. How could anyone, especially of the caliber of King David, have that many enemies? Later on, as I began to follow the Lord more closely, I discovered that some of the enemies who were after David were apparently now after me. I also realized that enemies were hotly pursuing all of God’s saints, whether they realized it or not. The whole Bible speaks about this satanic attack that rages over our lives. In fact, there is much teaching in the book of Psalms, teaching gleaned from David’s own experiences with his enemies.
Why did David have such a constant warfare with enemies? No doubt it was due to the fact that God had chosen him to initiate what was to become the eternal messianic kingdom of righteousness (Psa. 89:3-4). Like David, we continue on as citizens and soldiers of this kingdom through the Lord Jesus. Therefore the rage, hatred, slander, plots and constant warfare that were manifested against David in the physical realm, all continue against us in the spiritual realm (and often in the physical realm as well). The pattern of that warfare has not changed much since the days of David.
What can we learn about our spiritual enemies from the Book of Psalms? We learn that they are ever increasing (3:1); and that we cannot believe a word they say to us (5:9). We learn that they are in a rage because of us (7:6). They stake out the place and wait for us to come along: “For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart” (Psa. 11:2). Imagine that! We stroll along the path innocently singing the Lord’s praises and suddenly an arrow is released toward us from the shadows.
It’s dangerous business. We learn that our enemies are deadly (17:9); that they are like a greedy lion (17:12). Our enemies are too strong for us (18:17). Their purpose is to eat up or to wear out our flesh (27:2). They are false witnesses who breathe out cruelty (27:12). They slander us and take counsel together against us in order to destroy us (31:13). They are lively and strong (38:19); they speak evil of us and wish we would die (41:5). They even try to convince us that we have some dreaded and fatal disease (41:8). They oppress us (42:9) and wear us down by constantly asking us this question, “Where is your God?” (42:10).
As we listen to these enemy voices in our minds, I fear that we often get in much the same spiritual shape as David did in Psalm 55:2-5. In that Psalm he laments: “My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked; for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger. My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me” (Psa. 55:2-5).
Yes, the wicked direct bitter words at us (64:3) and they lay snares (64:5). Interestingly, the Hebrew word for snare (mo-qesh) is the same word used today in Israel for a land mine. The enemies also diligently search out our iniquities (64:6). Of course, they waste no time in bringing us under condemnation for our past sins, even if these are totally forgiven and even forgotten by God.
There is much more we can learn about enemy tactics in the Book of Psalms and elsewhere in the Bible. Jesus illuminated the enemy’s plan when he said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Thus we see that the enemy of our soul has a three-pronged attack-plan against us. He has come to steal, kill and destroy.
ENEMIES AND TODAY’S MIDDLE EAST
When I first moved to the Middle East many years ago I became amazed how the physical enemies of Israel can teach us much about the spiritual attacks upon our lives. The terrorists are called “me-ha-blim” in the Hebrew language. The word means “those who destroy, wound, damage, etc.” These mehablim wage a constant campaign to kill and destroy the people of Israel. They even kill and destroy each other because it is just Satan’s nature to kill and destroy, even if he is doing it to his best friends.
The terrorist campaign waged against Israel is also aimed at stealing everything Israel has. The PLO wants the land of Israel, and not just the West Bank. They want every square foot or meter of Israel and they want the Israelis dead or pushed into the sea. They have boldly stated this on many occasions and they are still saying it in spite of their participation in the peace processes. They not only want the cities of the West Bank, but they want Jaffa, Haifa and Jerusalem. These enemies have concocted an elaborate ruse in order to steal the historical and biblical land of Israel. They have now almost coaxed the church and the whole world into believing this incredible lie.
The plotting seems to never end even in the natural realm. Today it is just the same as it was when Psalm 83:2-8 was written. We still have the very same old enemies; the Edomites, Moabites and Ammonites (Jordanians), the inhabitants of Tyre (Lebanese terrorists), the Assyrians (Syria and Iraq) and all the host of others who are still opposing Israel. Charles DeLoach in his book, Seeds of Conflict, claims that in the 1967 war, the exact enemy confederation mentioned in Psalm 83 was brought against Israel, even including Assyria (Iraqi troops which were sent to aid King Hussein of Jordan).
The purpose of the enemy attacks against Israel and against us is clearly spelled out in this Psalm. The Psalmist says, “See how your enemies are astir, how your foes rear their heads. With cunning they conspire against your people; they plot against those you cherish. ‘Come,’ they say, ‘let us destroy them as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more'” (Psa. 83:2-4).
When will we ever understand that what happens to Israel happens to us? If Israel is under attack so are we. If Israel is being divided by her enemies, the church will also be divided. This is true because the battle is a spiritual battle and the enemies are actually attacking the things of God. It was thus for our own good that the Lord asked us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psa. 122:5).
VICTORY OVER ENEMIES
As David struggled on with his many enemies through the Book of Psalms, he seems to have made a remarkable discovery. He discovered that he really didn’t have any enemies after all; that his enemies were, in fact, God’s enemies. How true it is that if an enemy comes against one of our children, that enemy becomes our enemy. Our child can be at peace because we parents will take care of that problem on our child’s behalf. David can therefore say in Psalm 68:1, “May God arise, may his enemies be scattered”
If we can but learn to be obedient, trusting children before God he will take care of the enemy problem. That is true for us and for Israel. Today God still laments concerning Israel, “If my people would but listen to me, if Israel would follow my ways, how quickly would I subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes!” (Psa. 81:13-14). This same promise is available to us as individuals today.
If we can obey the Lord and serve him faithfully, he promises always to be an enemy to our enemies (Ex. 23:22). If we but rest in him, he will make our enemies a footstool for our feet (Psa. 110:1). We are, therefore, not to fret ourselves or to be terrified at our foes (Psa. 37:1; Phil. 1:28).
We can face the spiritual battlefield with no qualms if we humbly wear the helmet of salvation, the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the sword of the Spirit, the shield of faith, and all the other things the Lord has provided (Eph. 6:14-18). The devil will flee when confronted with the mighty spiritual weapons God has made available. These weapons also include the name of Jesus, the Word of God, the praise of our lips, our testimony, the anointing, the power to bind and loose, the blood, etc. (2 Cor. 10:4-6). All these things come from God and not from us, so it is really the Lord who is confronting the enemy through us.
It is the same Lord who said to his disciples after his resurrection, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt. 28:18). If all authority has been given to Jesus, then it holds true that no authority remains in the enemy camp. All the spiritual attacks against God’s saints are then only built upon lies, fabrications, falsehoods, fears and intimidation.
We can boldly go out against the enemies of our God, for he promises that we will possess their gates (Gen. 22:17). He promises both us and Israel: “You will pursue your enemies…Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you” (Lev. 26:7-8).
This updated article is presented courtesy of Bridges For Peace, Jerusalem (original publication date, 1993).
Author’s photo of The Warrior: Sculpture by Emile Boudelle