The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.
Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.
Let's take one last look at Psalm 33. There's something here that we can't miss, because as hard as waiting is, there's a way we can actually make it infinitely more difficult. Psalm 33 mentions, as it does many times in the Bible, the concept of a war horse. It's a powerful image and a metaphor that God uses repeatedly.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man...
The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
but the victory belongs to the Lord.
7 But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the Lord their God. I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen.
Continually God makes the point that war horses are powerful creatures, but they are not worthy of our trust and confidence if God is involved...and God is always involved. Kings lived and died by the size of their army. Many of the territorial borders you can find on a world map today were given their distance and direction by a war horse, whether ancient or modern.
War horses would make or break the outcome of a battle in the time of this Psalm's writing. They were fast and strong and carried the strongest soldiers to be able to kill multiple enemies in quick succession. Any thinking (or betting) person in this time would say, these are the things that make all the difference.
This is why the war horse is such a perfect symbol of idolatry. It's the ultimate historical example of our tendency to hold most tightly to our icons of power, provision, and practicality. We want to grab a hold of the world rather than the Maker of it. Trusting in our war horses actually makes waiting on the Lord more difficult, because our power is limited, our vision is limited, and our resources are limited. But His are not.
If you read books like Joshua and Judges, God is constantly showing that the smaller army or warrior often comes out on top. Again, because He is involved and has no regard for our math when it comes to the battles we face. God's economy is not our economy.
Here's something that the world wants you to forget but time makes obvious:
Life can be hard and heavy. If you lean on things that aren't meant to bear the weight of our lives, eventually those things collapse. If your work life or love life or hobby life or even (hold your breath) your family life is the thing that matters above all else to you, you are going to find sooner than later that those things, even really GOOD things can not hold the weight.
And the writer of Psalm 33 says, the war horse is actually not strong enough to save you. It's a false hope. Counterintuitively, freedom comes when you’re not counting on leaders or wealth to win the day.
So then, let's pause a moment: what is your war horse?
I'm really asking.
The best way I know to answer this is these two questions:
1. When you're alone and it's quiet, where does your mind wander?
2. What's the thing that if it was gone for a couple of weeks (or hours) you'd get anxious and depressed and irritated?
The waiting we do as Christians is hard. No coffee cup verse is going to make it easy. But it's possible that waiting is harder for us right now because we've been praising and trusting a war horse, and it's not built to hold the weight of your life.
If you want to encounter the Spirit-led confidence and peace that comes with worshiping while you wait, let your power, provision, and practicality fall down the list. There's a time and place for those things, but Jesus claims the throne of the world, and He deserves the top spot in our own hearts as well.