Our election cycle is bearing down on us.
Voices from both parties argue their vision for America. We're entering a warzone with political opponents flinging blue and red spears. The arrow heads are not blunt–they're jagged, with pointed rhetoric meant to tear through the opposition.
Okay, that was a bit dramatic. 😄
But I think warfare imagery is pretty fitting for our political landscape.
The Psalms, many written by one of Israel's kings, also use war-like imagery to capture their dependency on God in trials....
Now this I know:
The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
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.
Lord, give victory to the king!
Answer us when we call!
Psalms 20:6-9 (NIV)
The Tale of the National King
Now, this Psalm could be misappropriated by our culture to sing a tale of a false king:
Rise up the flag of our president!
He is our victorious king, waging our battles on our behalf!
We trust in our military might.
We swear allegiance to our party.
Only through our king can we wage national and political victories against our enemies.
All others must bow to our vision for America.
This interpretation of the Bible leads to a dangerous nationalism, where basement-level emotions reign rather than hearts humbled by the Christ.
The Tale of the True King
Thank God–literally–the Bible speaks for itself and shows us there's no place for misplaced nationalism in a Christian's life.
God's Right Hand
First, all "victorious power" comes from "God's right hand."
This a strong metaphor throughout the whole Bible. The right hand of the king tends to hold the scepter, or whatever the symbol of his power is.
After His victory over sin and death, Jesus sat at the right hand of God the Father (for a whole slew of verses on this, go here). In other words, the humble and meek Son who offered His life now reigns in power as the true King.
Though Psalm 20 is a "Royal Psalm" that shows David's faith in God's power, it ultimately points to the King we all need, Jesus Christ.
Where's Your Trust?
As well, David captures a beautiful theme when he says "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God."
The chariot and the horse are symbols of...
- Military might
Right now, our country as a whole places their trust in all of the above. We delight in being a "godly nation" and a "city on the hill," but we have sung for far too long the salute to the national king, the ode to prosperity, and the hymn of patriotism.
King David, considered to be Israel's greatest king, recognized the need to place all hope and trust in God's power–not his own or the nation's.
"...the humble and meek Son who offered His life now reigns in power as the true King."
David, a man after God's heart, messed up a lot. The Bible is clear he's not the one we should emulate. So why do we force a political vision for our country onto others that is deeply flawed and lacking the character of God?
The Sword or the Cross?
Today's Scripture Sauce is a challenge and encouragement to my brothers and sisters in Christ:
As the political tides crash against your frayed emotions and limited attention, turn your eyes and hearts to the good King.
Sing His song.
Tell His tale.
And let the cross be your symbol of hope. Prostrate yourself before the risen King, not the false king of nationalism.
There's two tales we can tell: One, is the song of the sword, celebrating national might. The other, the hymn of the cross, remembering the humble King who sacrificed everything to reconcile us back to God.
Something a political party can never do.
Here's an awesome song about depending on the good King...