One of my favorite films is “Saving Private Ryan.” One of my favorite characters in the movie is Jackson, the Scripture-quoting sniper (played by actor Barry Pepper). Toward the end of the film, as Tom Hank’s company makes their last stand, we get a final glimpse of Jackson in action. Moments before his death as he begins to pick off German troops from his bell tower perch, Jackson quotes the opening verses of Psalm 144. He successfully picks of several German soldiers before a tank takes out the bell tower, thus ending Jackson’s life. Jackson quoted Psalm 144:1-2. If he would have had the time, he would probably have quoted the words that followed. Here is what David wrote in Psalm 144:1-4,
Blessed be the Lord, my rock,
who trains my hands for war,
and my fingers for battle;
My lovingkindness and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield and He in whom I take refuge,
who subdues my people under me.
O Lord, what is man that you take knowledge of him?
Or the son of man, that you think of him?
Man is like a mere breath;
His days are like a passing shadow.
King David was a man of war. Here, he credits God for his military prowess. At first glance, it’s incredibly uncomfortable (especially in America’s version of Christianity) to see God as a God of war. And yet, He is. He has used armies to carry out judgment on nations. But the point of these opening stanzas isn’t that God trains for war. It’s that the author, David, is blown away that God would even think about him, much less prepare him for battle.
Scripture uses military language to describe a Christian’s existence. Our battles aren’t against flesh and blood people (although it seems like it sometimes). Our enemy is Satan, the father of lives and accuser of Christ’s followers. It’s comforting, mystifying, and awe-inspiring to know the God of the universe cares enough about us to equip us for this battle. He provides strength, mercy, patience, endurance, perseverance–everything we need, and often with “on the field training.” And He didn’t have to do so. As God, he could have left us on our own. But he chose to equip, show mercy, and protect those who put their trust in him, even though our lives are incredibly short.
In spite of how small we are, God has us “on the brain.”