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Train for War

Part of every soldier’s basic training is weapons instruction.

A soldier should know how to handle firearms and explosives so that he’ll be an effective fighter. This is what David needed too. The author of Psalm 144 had been raised as a shepherd, but God chose him to be king.

In this new role he would have to lead Israel’s armies in its clashes with the enemy. You can imagine how ill-equipped for warfare David must have felt, despite his record of violent encounters with lions and bears in Judean pastures (1 Sam 17:34-35). For this task as king, he was going to require thorough training in the art of war, its strategy and weaponry.

In Psalm 144’s opening verse, David acknowledges how God has been good in providing him with instruction and guidance:

The LORD trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.

The occasion for his prayer is an enemy assault, maybe an invading army on one of Israel’s frontiers. The situation may have seemed perilous, but David’s unshakeable refuge is God: “Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners” (v. 11).

God is able to shield and preserve his people. And God will also tutor his servant in the lessons of warfare. As ever, God equips us according to what he requires of us. With God as the true King and Warrior of his people, success is not in doubt, for he “gives victory to kings” (v. 10).

God’s commitment to train us for war remains a powerful and encouraging message. For the Lord tells us that this whole world is a spiritual battlefield. Despite appearances, these aren’t the best of times. These last days are the time when the conflict is going to be most severe, when the war intensifies.

The Holy Spirit says: “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). This is the fight that David’s son Jesus fought and won on the cross. It’s still our fight today.

The evil day is here in the devil’s temptations, in the world’s persecutions, in our struggles against our own sinful flesh. We would be fools if we tried to face this battle without asking for the Lord’s help daily, and urgently. Train my fingers for war, and my hands for battle!

So perhaps the best question is: Are you still wrestling? Is there some fight left in you, where you are actively resisting sin and fighting the devil? If you’re not wrestling, then you’re in grave danger. Scripture teaches us in James 4:7 to defy Satan:

Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Don’t make peace with him, but fight him, and hard. This means we have to be readied for battle, but not with physical things like body armour or assault rifles. Instead: “Take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Eph 6:13).

The faithful troops of Christ will march closely in step with our Commander so that he can equip us, train us, and command us. If we do that, our success is assured. He has won the decisive victory, and now he will help us to fend off the enemy’s desperate counter-attacks. If you want his training, then:

Take up Christ’s Word as your double-edged sword.

Be filled with his Holy Spirit as your unfailing strength.

Be devoted to prayer for yourself and for all the saints.

Then you’ll be ready to fight as a good soldier of Christ.


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