It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way. (Psalm 18:32–36, NIV)
Have you ever twisted your ankle? I did once when on a wilderness adventure in northern Minnesota as we were trekking across the Grand Portage with canoes and packs on our backs. The ground was wet and for some dumb reason we made the epic journey (some 9 miles) at night. After many hours I slipped and fell. Although the backpacks provided a cushion, my ankle contorted unnaturally. I felt every painful step.
As Christians we may trip and fall, but as we follow God he will make our way secure. So says David, who turns his song of thanksgiving into a personal litany of the ways God has helped him. With God he has the grace and surety of a deer in a high place, which I would have appreciated on that slippery trail. Again Yahweh is his saving help, shield, and sustenance who provides a spacious path for his feet.
One of the commentators likens these verses to a “boot camp for warriors” similar to the spiritual armor that Paul outlines to the Ephesians (such as the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness and shield of faith). We may not have to rout our enemies, but we do battle against the “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
May I extend a rallying call that we to take up our shield against the fiery darts of the enemy, whether they be words of discouragement or an insipid disbelief in the power of the almighty God. If we call on the Lord, he will train our arms as we hold the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, while praying for all the saints.
Prayer: Lord, you are my shield, defender, strength, and security. Your right hand sustains me and you provide a broad path for my feet. Train me to serve and love you.