Psalm 144 opens “Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.” (:1) This is another good reminder (see the devotion on “No Beds of Ease” here) that life is not about comfort, but is inevitably full of conflict. This Psalm instructs us that God is not training us for “retirement” but rather “trains my hands for WAR and my fingers for BATTLE.” J.I. Packer tells us in his lectures on the Puritans that those saints of old saw life as a spiritual battle — and we should too. Too often we seem taken by surprise when we encounter opposition, or find ourselves in spiritual conflict — but this is what the Christian life truly IS!
Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that as followers of Christ, we are spiritual soldiers, and must “take up the full armor of God” if we hope to gain victory in a desperate spiritual struggle “against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness.” Many of us as Christians need to relinquish the idea that we can have a happy and carefree life living “the American dream.” This is not the Biblical mindset. Rather, we need to see life as battle, and like the Psalm says, let our Lord “train our hands for war and our fingers for battle.” It should give us comfort and confidence that :2 of Psalm 144 goes on to tell us that in this conflict, we have a “shield” and a “refuge” in that same Lord who is equipping us. But battle we will — we need to gird ourselves with that martial mindset. Nothing less will prepare us for victory in the kind of conflicts that we will inevitably face as God’s people in a hostile world.