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Psalm 81: When Does God Fight For Me, When Am I Supposed To Join The Battle?

Leland Johnson is a student of history, religion, politics, and current events. He wishes to respectfully engage readers on those points.


A Personal Breakthrough

I have always wondered about the texts of the Bible that tell us to wait on the Lord, that He will fight for us, verses like that. There seemed to be a contradiction, maybe more in my mind than in the scriptures, but present nonetheless. “Aren’t there times when we are supposed to fight?” I wondered. When Ezra and Nehemiah began to rebuild Jerusalem they told the people to be ready to fight, to build with one hand and fight with the other. (See Nehemiah 4:17)

How are we supposed to apply those seemingly conflicting exhortations?

Listen To God, Stop Arguing With People!

At least here God’s direction and purpose seem to be in synch, seem to make sense. If we, His people, will listen to God, follow Him and walk in His ways, HE will act on our behalf. HE will batter our enemies into submission. So much of God’s work in us is undone when we fight with other people. Here, in this text, God is compelling His people, not to verbal combat and arguing, but to submission to His way of doing things, to following Him, to listening to Him. He is assigning tasks and the task of the people in this text, and it would appear to all God’s people for all time, is to do the following and listening while He does the clobbering. To attack our enemies through debate, self defense, rebuttal, reprisal and so on, takes us away from the mission God has given. The farmer tills his soil, he does not fight. He cannot till, plant, hoe/weed, harvest etc, while fighting with disagreeable neighbors and family members. He cannot do both. Here, in Psalm 81, God says He will provide the muscle while it is left to us to provide the listening, the walking, the living, the doing things- His way.

Personal Goal

Stop fighting with people to prove “my” point of view. Stop railing against disagreeable family/extended and immediate. Live for God. Just do that. In New Testament terms Jesus told us not to sweat it even if we are dragged before legal officials:

“But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;

And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.

But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.

For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” Mt 10:17-20

“The Servant Of The Lord Must Not Be Quarrelsome...” 2 Timothy 2:24


2 Timothy 2:24

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.

— The Apostle Paul from his second epistle to Timothy, chapter 2 vs. 24

Is The Soil Of Your Heart Rocky, Full of Weeds, Or Ready To Receive God’s Good Seed?

Wars are interspersed with long periods of peace. We may have to fight a “war” here and there, but most of our time will be spent in the field. What will we make of that time? Will we be harrowing crooked furrows in our soil, missing rocks and trampling budding seeds because we are distracted, shouting at our enemies? Or will we ignore them and continue on in our rows, hoping and working toward a great harvest of righteous crops, sprung from seeds God has sprinkled on the soil of our hearts? 90% of our walk of faith is tasked with soil preparation and plant maintenance. If God should call us to some war He will surely make our new set of responsibilities known to us. Until that time comes, I don’t want to miss anymore weeds by being distracted, whether by the usual strifes of this world or my own wandering.

It’s time for the men and women of God to “put the hand to the plow and not look back.” Luke 9:62


I understand that in these difficult times, times of stress and political turmoil, it is more tempting to fight and argue with people than ever before. I urge the reader to consider this simple, two-part question.

How many times has someone ever successfully argued YOU into agreeing with them, and how many times have you successfully argued someone else into agreeing with you? Uh-huh...not many, right?

Maybe it’s time for you and me to stop trying to convert everyone around us and concentrate our energy, and our spiritual ears, on hearing and obeying the voice of the Lord in our lives and leave the lives of others to Him. Does that mean we completely disengage? Just go along with whatever anyone has to say? Compromise? Hardly, rather we are to carefully pick and choose our battles and always keep 2 Timothy 2:24 in mind as we face the day and all the souls in it.


© 2020 Leland Johnson


Leland Johnson (author) from Midland MI on March 22, 2020:

Amen to that as well :) Thanks Ms.Dora

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 20, 2020:

Amen to the insightful message. We cannot trust God while we're fighting in our own strength. Better to put our energies into trust and obedience.

Leland Johnson (author) from Midland MI on March 16, 2020:

There is a verse in Jude 1:22-23 that that says, “ be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”

Even when we would “save” someone it can only be done by humble appeal. Here’s a thought- what if we lived in such a way as to actually make people curious about God to the point that they might even be compelled to ask a question!

Leland Johnson (author) from Midland MI on March 16, 2020:

Kyler- a couple final thoughts- I indeed believe in the reality of God. My beef with ministers and religion in general is that they try to act on God’s behalf, and God, as I understand Him, doesn’t require a minister, priest, or any other intermediary. In fact, I believe that religion, which claims to help humanity reach God, is in reality the greatest barrier and obstacle between God and man. Did you know that there are over 4,000 Christian denominations, each one thinking their presentation of God is the correct one? 4,000! As human beings we don’t have enough years in our lives to study each one in order to come to an informed decision. That’s not even mentioning all the other “isms”- Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Mormonism, etc. In order to avoid an appearance of exclusivity some say “it’s all the same, we’re all heading in the same direction.” While I genuinely tolerate other people believing whatever they like, I believe all the isms are part of the same deception. There are literally thousands of voices shouting for your membership to their house of worship, all the while God is not in those places. He is, rather, in your garden, on the path beside the river, imploring you to lose the headphones, raise your eyes to heaven and ask simply- “are You there? I don’t know who to listen to or what to believe. If You made me, wont You speak to me in some way?” Religion in the forms of ministers and edifices have raised a cacophony of voices and have drowned out the “still small voice” of God, the voice that whispers into our fear and confusion, “this is the way, the right way. Walk in it.”

Shhhhhh....listen...you’ll hear Him. Thanks for hearing me out.

manatita44 from london on March 16, 2020:

Your piece is passionate and I like it.

No need to rescue them. Scriptires are full of self-giving, Love, mercy, compassion and prayer to name a few. Just be what Paul asks of you. Be a benchmark for Christ. God is still in charge. Peace.

Leland Johnson (author) from Midland MI on March 16, 2020:

Hi AB! You know, the public schools have done a great job of indoctrinating our children and our nation has allowed this to happen. The tangle didn't get this big over night and it won't get untangled overnight. Something I see happening in this slide towards socialism is that there are certain groups that are more inclined to it. 1. young people. They are idealistic and think everyone should have the same thing, no one should be left out, etc. They talk a lot about what is "fair." Have you tried arguing with a millennial? I find this segment of society very difficult to talk to. They have done very little, but seem to know a great deal about life, politics, etc. They're beliefs about fairness are buttressed by moms and dads that support their juvenile beliefs. They get to stay on mom and dad's insurance until they're 26, live at home until 30, dress up like star wars characters. I'm not trying to pick on this group too much, but I'm just saying-when I turned 17 I had graduated from HS, joined the Army where I was trained in a technical school, was honorably discharged, started a family and here I am. I made a lot of mistakes along the way to be sure, but my point is, I was ON MY OWN. The kids today have not been on their own yet they act as though they are. They don't realize that they don't really have skin in the game yet. They haven't contributed enough for them to really engage, but the Bernie Sanders's of the world are telling them they have, telling them they have a right to free everything, and because they haven't contributed they don't understand where all the free stuff comes from. This is a huge digression, I realize, but my point is that this particular group of Americans has been coddled and sweet talked for much of their lives and they believed it all. Now they feel entitled to shoot their mouths off to adults 2 and 3 times their age. The over pouring of love in their youth has resulted in an unbalanced amount of SELF respect over respect for their elders. Last year on vacation a 25 year old young man served as our guide on a kayak trip. He told us how he scoffed at his dad for telling him to get a "real job." Pointing to the distance as we kayaked on Lake Superior he said, "There's my office." Minutes later he told us how he was still on his dad's insurance. Uh huh. He really thought he was a self made man but he was still letting dad foot his medical bills. The notion of what it means to be an "adult" has shifted. Bernie, AOC, Pelosi, et al all love it because the only thing better for them than a drugged out, disarmed electorate is one that also happens to be misinformed. I know this isn't really answering your question about how to rescue them. I'm still trying to figure it out myself; what I do know is that arguing with them won't do it. I've never seen anyone argued into anything. Arguing with someone only strengthens them in their position, makes them dig in their heels. I don't think there is crystal clear answer. Who spoke more clearly, more truthfully than Jesus and how many people listened to him? It isn't just what we are saying that matters, it's also matters how receptive the ears are that hearing our words. Lets talk more about it.

Thanks so much AB. Great hearing from you.


Kyler J Falk from California on March 16, 2020:

I appreciate your response, Leland, and I feel if we discussed further we'd figuratively be discussing which picture frame is better to put on the exact same picture. The only thing I have a problem with, which is personal and in no way objective or fair when discussing religion or abstract reality, is attributing human-born philosophy to the words of a deity.

I've always had a distaste for attributing the inherent ability to think comprehensively, and thus adapt to any and every situation, to some sort of ethereal being. But, to give the idea credit where it is due we all have our interpretations of abstract reality and I always find value in the Werner Heisenberg quote:

“The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you”?

Perhaps one day these notions won't be left to pure speculation, but until then I embrace you and your underlying notions. May we all embrace one another in warmth, love, and acceptance.

Leland Johnson (author) from Midland MI on March 16, 2020:

Thank you for reading, sir. Blessings to you too!


Leland Johnson (author) from Midland MI on March 16, 2020:


Thank you for question, statements, and the respectful tone you used regarding both.

You are right- there are several errors in the bible. This came as a shock to me when I first heard it and troubled me greatly as I embarked on a section of bible/church/Judaic history known as "textual criticism." It is a fact that many, more recent manuscripts, contain inconsistencies that are all but impossible to explain away regardless of how hard ministers/pastors, etc, try. I found great relief concerning this issue, however, and it is that relief that I would draw your attention for consideration.

First off, just because there are errors that entered the bible through interpolation doesn't mean that it doesn't also contain authentic, ancient passages that are not only true, but accurate. How can we discern the true from the false? There is a very simple statement made by Jesus in John 10:27-28 "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them. Another they will not follow." It makes perfect sense to me that Jesus would make such a statement at a time in history when the vast majority of people were illiterate and would remain so for the next 1500 years until the invention of Gutenberg's printing press. It is sensible and reasonable to believe that God did not intend for people to live by a long list of rules that they couldn't possibly remember even if they COULD read, which they couldn't. Instead of religious leaders helping their flocks gain freedom from the simple teachings of Jesus, they established "orthodoxy" which means right thinking, and used their literacy to dominate others. Jesus said the whole of the Law was to Love God with all you are, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Kyler, I am sure just from the sensitive way you framed your comments that you understand that it is right to lover your neighbor, to look out for others instead of yourself. Religionists have completely corrupted that simple truth and to do so they had to add words and phrases to the bible that aren't supposed to be there. The more of the interpolations I have been able to discover, with the help of qualified analysts (not that we need to be analysts to understand this, we don't, it's just that they have done a lot of the leg work.). Biblically speaking, there should be no such thing as denominations, Christmas, and tons more that would enrage many should I list them all. May I suggest an excellent book that might be of interest to you? It's called "The Jesus Wars" by Philip Jenkins. It was a pleasure responding to you and I hope we can chat about this some more.


A B Williams from Central Florida on March 16, 2020:

Thanks for this reminder, Leland.

I was recently 'unfriended' by a family member on FB. The thing was, I have really scaled back on my political commentary. That didn't matter, she has grown to resent me as 'that person' with the political opinion that is not in line with hers, so, therefore, she just ex'ed me out, you could say.

There is definitely a fine line in all of this.

In making attempts to steer people away from socialism, for example, you are doing it for their own good, but also because if enough people are convinced to go that way, you will be caught up in it and forced into being a part of the disaster, like it or not!

How do we convince people when they are going the wrong way, taking a dangerous route...without coming off as argumentative, "railing against" etc.?

manatita44 from london on March 15, 2020:

I like your Hub. Great decency and common sense, backed up by some pretty worthy quotes. Higher blessings.

Kyler J Falk from California on March 15, 2020:

I often ask myself whether it is appropriate to question things that traditional, religious adherence often present as an oxymoron but I'd like to hear your perspective on it.

You say not to try to convert one another, and leave it to the "Lord's teachings" but those teachings were written by men trying to convert others. Men who claim to speak to God, angels, etc. the likes of which we quickly, and often, dismiss as kooky and disreputable.

Why is it these ancient writings with many contradictions we explain away with "modern interpretation" are still a reliable source in the face of your own claims to "...stop trying to convert everyone around us..."?

I guess I just don't understand the contradiction to stop trying to convert people, while also presenting the answer to that question within the religion that tells you to spread the word of "the Lord" that was written by men trying to convert others.

I do, however, wholly agree with the sentiment and often present the same answer outside of religious context and feel your idea is noble and necessary.

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