Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.
Psalm 20:7-8 NIVUK
What do we trust in? These verses would seem to imply some form of warlike background. National thought would tend to focus on weaponry, and we can look back in our lifetimes at the technological development and manufacture of arms of different complexities, all in the name of “defence”. A race builds up between nations to produce the most effective weapon in the hope that it would discourage potential attackers from going to war. Such thinking shapes a nation’s foreign policies and strategic alliances. And all this with the knowledge that nations and civilisations rise and fall, and have done ever since history started to be recorded. In the end weaponry doesn’t seem to make much difference. Whatever happened to the Persian, Assyrian, Greek and Roman empires, after all? So the Psalmist, David, was quite right when he said, “They are brought to their knees and fall”.
However, God’s people “trust in the name of the Lord“. But what does that mean in practice? Does it, as some have concluded, mean that a nation should become peopled by passivists, with no money being spent on weapons of any type? Instead should they adopt a dependency on God, a nation of God-believers who totally trust in Him for their protection? A nice Utopian thought, but one that, sadly, has never been achieved in history.
But before we continue to develop this line of argument, what can we conclude from what David was saying in these verses? Back to our starting question, “What do we trust in”? What does trusting “in the name of the Lord our God” look like in our age? We live in a sinful world and as God’s people we have choices to make. We are richly blessed with His Word, the Bible, and 2 Timothy 3:16 famously says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” In the Bible we can find the guidance and encouragement we need, but we have to believe, and live it, wholeheartedly. And trust that if God said it, then we must believe it. So trusting in God infers a life style of dependency on Him. That is not to say that we abdicate our own responsibilities for earning a living, looking after our families and so on, lazily depending on God for what we should be doing. But it does mean we must partner with God in everything we do, recognising of course that He is the Senior Partner in the relationship.
But back to our national defence. Personally, I think that the man-God partnership involves at least some national responsibility for looking after the security of the people living within its society. That may involve the research and production of weaponry and the development of strategic alliances with other like-minded nations. It may also include God’s people in a military or policing role. And God’s people must pray. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 reads, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
Isaiah wrote down an “in the last days” prophecy which we can find in Isaiah 2. Verse 4 reads,
He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into ploughshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.
Down through the mists of time, Isaiah could see a day coming when there would be the rule and reign of the Kingdom of God. If we are troubled about war and long for a universal peace, perhaps our prayer should be, “Come Lord Jesus”. Amen?