Oh give us help against the adversary,
For deliverance by man is in vain.
Yesterday, I found myself back at the verse that reminds me to seek the LORD and His strength and to seek His face continually. One of the reasons to seek Him is given in this morning’s verse: help.
There are really only two kinds of adversary. There are physical adversaries and spiritual adversaries. David, in this psalm, is asking for help against the physical, but the need extends to the spiritual.
David writes that deliverance by man is in vain. And there is great truth in this. If I go to my fellow men for help, it is often perceived as weakness and invites other men stronger than I am to do much the same thing that I am looking for help with. The principle extends upward from the individual to the group, as well. Cities, counties, states, and nations that look to others for help often find themselves indebted to those who gave them help and subject to whatever terms are imposed on receiving that help. What’s more, the help offered dos not get at the root of the problem. So the problem is addressed in the moment, but reappears because the root was not dealt with. The help that God offers comes with the caveat of obedience. Israel had — and still has, so far I as can tell from scripture — a covenant of service and obedience with God. They would serve and obey Him and He, in turn, would do miraculous things on their behalf. As they obeyed, they loosed the hands of God to work and the OT history books — Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, and so on — are chock full of examples of God doing miraculous things on behalf of His people. From a diminutive shepherd felling a giant with a river rock then decapitating the giant with his own sword to a praise band marching onto a battlefield and coming away victorious. God can and will help in the realm of the physical.
The spiritual application is still more apropos. See, man cannot deliver me from a spiritual foe. Certainly, there are programs and steps that are meant to help people address sins like drunkenness and so on, but these are not always successful and not always permanent. While a sin like drunkenness has obvious physical riders, there are other sins that are just as destructive to us spiritually and have no obvious physical evidences. Man can help me with my sins and spiritual battles to a point, but that point is not far in nor near the root of my problem. Only God can cleanse me of my sin, thus dealing with the concern of the present moment, but also get at the root of my sin, dealing with the problem of eternity. If I only seek treatment for the symptom, the disease remains. If I seek to be cured of the disease, then both symptom and disease are addressed. If I seek the help of man, who can only help with physical things, then I seek treatment for the symptoms. If I seek the help of God, then I find the cure for the disease itself. One once said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” While the original quote may have been a bit of tree-hugging hippy propoganda, we’ll set that aside and focus on the truth contained therein. We often think of spiritual warfare and get hung up on the world system and the devil — both more than our match on any given day — but forget the enemy within our gates; the traitor in our own skins. My old nature remains within this skin and is the traitor in my gates. While the world system and the devil will attack from without, it is the traitor within my gates who keeps suggesting I throw the gates wide and let the other two in. To defeat myself, I need help. And that help must live in the same place as the problem. So I go to God for help, because He lives within me and can deal with the traitor in my gates — God, also, is within my gates. The conclusion: I am not ashamed to need help against a foe I cannot master from a Master Who conquers every foe.
Lord, be Master within the gates of my heart and mind today. Be Master of my passions and Master over the traitor who seeks to undermine all that You wish to do in and through me. Please master me and be my help, for all other help is vain.