Friday, November 16, 2012

“Arming” for Victory

Fourth Quarter 2012 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Arming” for Victory
For the week of Nov. 17, 2012

“Arming” for Victory 

Everyone likes shoes to one degree or another – shoes are useful, protective and sometimes even beautiful.  They protect our feet from sharp or pointed surfaces and may prevent us from stubbing our toes.  Shoes can be costly or cheap – that is to say cheap shoes are not only inexpensive but can be poorly made. None-the-less, shoes are an important piece of protective wear.

Have you ever worn the wrong pair of shoes for an event, let’s say a wedding, and been embarrassed? Or perhaps you bought a pair either too large or too small and your feet (and body) suffered the achy consequences. Maybe you even got dressed in the dark and put on a mismatched pair, and didn’t catch it until you were out in public – alas, it was too late to avoid feeling and perhaps even looking foolish.  Hopefully, you and others got a good laugh out of your mishap.

Wearing the right shoes for the right occasion is important, as shoes can be supportive, decorative or crippling. How many have limped, hobbled or shuffled because they wore the wrong shoes? Properly shod feet enable standing firm, advancing forward with confidence or retreating backward with caution. When the occasion calls for it, they even allow evasive side to side movement.

No wonder Christ through the Apostle Paul cautions us not only to put on the whole amour of God, but to make sure our feet are shod with the Gospel shoes of peace that we might stand protected in battle (cf. Ephesians 6:13, 14, 15).  Our faith filled work of delivering God’s message of reconciliation to humanity necessitates sturdy supportive shoes.

Battle shoes are a lot like praise. Praise is useful, protective and sometimes even beautiful.  It protects us from Satan’s attacks which are frequently sharp and pointed.  You may say, that is what the shield of faith is for, and you’d be right, except that shields are unarguably not as beautiful as shoes and by proxy, praise.

King David, a consummate warrior was known not only for his skill on the battlefield, but for his magnificent praise of the Lord. Let us hear him –

“O Come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods”  Psalms 95:1-3. 

And then there is Psalms 98:1, (see also Psalms 99:1, 2), and Psalm 107:1, 2 –

“O sing unto the LORD a new song; for He hath done marvellous things: His right hand and His holy arm, hath gotten the victory.”

“O Give thanks unto the LORD, for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy;”

Anointed King David was daily hunted by his murderous enemies. So relentless were his foes of whom, the then seated King Saul was foremost, that David feared for His life. This is when many of his Psalms were written, depicting his agonizing struggles both physical and mental.  Yet, David came off conqueror, victorious over his spiritual and physical foes.  Music of scriptural praise played a major role in his victories.

King David understood and believed the loving kindness and the goodness of God. And whether or not he understood the principle of the sacrifice of praise, he utilized it effectively as a weapon by the power of the Holy Spirit.

In contrast, King Saul did not understand the power of giving praise to God, because he loved the approbation of his subjects. According to Sister White in Patriarchs and Prophets (pp 650), Saul’s love of the approval of others “had a controlling influence over his actions and thoughts; everything was marked by his desire for praise and self-exaltation. His standard of right and wrong was the low standard of popular applause. No man is safe who lives that he may please men, and does not seek first for the approbation of God.”

For a while, as David played his harp for King Saul, the evil spirits would leave. But after the battle with the Philistines, where the women of Israel sang that Saul killed his hundreds, and David his thousands, King Saul “opened his heart to the demon of jealousy” (ibid, pp 650), and at the last, while David was later playing his harp for Saul to ease his demonic attacks, Saul threw a javelin at David narrowly missing him.  Having given into the envy which consumed him, King Saul finally gave himself over to the evil spirit which ruled over him.”

Understanding and believing the loving goodness of God, is first and foremost in spiritual warfare. It is what ignites faith. By faith filled praising of the Lord Jehovah, both David and Christ were victorious in fighting with principalities and powers of wickedness in high places.  King David’s experiences are chronicled in the Psalms to give us courage and fortitude.  His prophetic description of Christ’s sufferings in Psalms 22 mirror his own, even though Christ’s were for the Sin of the world. Like King David, evidence that Christ was conqueror in the greatest battle against evil is demonstrated by His praise of the Lord’s character in verses 22-31 of Psalms.  What great news! Christ was victorious! Indeed, “… how beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”
-Raul Diaz