For the director of music. To the tune of “The Lily of the Covenant.” A miktam of David. For teaching. When he fought Aram Naharaim and Aram Zobah, and when Joab returned and struck down twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.
You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us; you have been angry —now restore us! You have shaken the land and torn it open; mend its fractures, for it is quaking. You have shown your people desperate times; you have given us wine that makes us stagger. But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow. Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered.
Life is going well. You are experiencing a good stretch. Then—boom!—the unexpected hits. You are attacked in a vulnerable area of your life. The enjoyment of the many victories is marred by defeat. That’s what happened to David.
David was in the northern part of his kingdom enjoying great success on the battlefield but the southern part of the kingdom—Judah—was left exposed. Edom spotted the weakness and swept in for the kill. David sent Joab to take care of the Edomites in a battle south of the Dead Sea.
Note that this psalm is written “For teaching.” This is a didactic psalm written to instruct all readers that victory and defeat come from the Lord. Sometimes He teaches us with great wins. He reminds us that He is always on our side and triumph comes through His strength. Sometimes He teaches us by a loss. He reminds us where we are vulnerable and drives us to meaningful prayer for help and strength. Life is about learning. God is about teaching. Don’t miss His instruction.
Father, thank You for success and failure, victory and defeat. Teach me the lessons You need me to learn. Keep me attentive to Your instruction. Help me put into practice the things that You teach me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.