Recently on this blog, I have been publishing some of the psalms found in the Old Testament Book of Psalms. This morning I read the following psalm as part of a devotional I have been reading title, “Praying Through the Most Beloved Psalms in 30 Days,” by Dolores Smyth, nationally published faith and parenting writer, and contributor on Crosswalk.com. Here is the psalm for today:
Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
BibleProject.com provides both a visual commentary and written commentary on Psalm 8 titled, “Ruling the World through Weakness in Psalm 8: What Do Babbling Babies Have to do with Strongholds?” by Cheree Hayes and the Bible Project Team. The visual commentary is available on their website at this link and on YouTube (YouTube video is below):
The written commentary on BibleProject.com opens with the following:
Why would the creator of the universe choose to rule the world through the babbling cries of needy humans? Psalm 8 describes Yahweh as the King of creation who made dependent humans his royal partners. This is unexpected and wonderful news to those who understand their need for God. But it’s offensive to those who want to rule their lives apart from Yahweh. Throughout the Bible, we see people violently oppose God’s strategy for ruling the universe. And this opposition creates a lot of chaos. So Yahweh establishes a stronghold of protection wherever one of his children humbly recognizes their need and calls out to him. Let’s take a closer look at Psalm 8 to understand more about how God chooses to rule his world. (Continue reading the commentary at this link. It’s not long.)
This psalm is about praising God and how praise establishes strongholds against our enemies. When we are upset by something or abused by someone, what is often our first inclination? We want to strike back, to seek revenge, or to cause our adversary damage in some way. (As an example, think about divorce.) That is the way of the world, and we see it going on all around us and in the daily, nonstop 24/7 news cycle. It’s the theme of a lot of movies–to get revenge. Yet the ways of God are exactly the opposite of how the world reacts when our enemies, both seen and unseen, come against us; and how we, as Christians, should react when abuse comes to us through the actions of others.
First, let’s take a look at spiritual strongholds. In an article titled, “What does the Bible say about spiritual strongholds,” (author’s name not mentioned) published on CompellingTruth.org, the article states:
A stronghold is defined as “(1) a place that has been fortified so as to protect it against attack; (2) a place where a particular cause or belief is strongly defended or upheld.” Strongholds are designed to be a safe place. As believers in Christ, we need to make the Lord our stronghold. He is our safe place and refuge (Psalm 27:1).
Throughout the Old Testament, God speaks through the prophets about how He will destroy enemy strongholds (Amos 1:7, 10, 12; Hosea 8:14). While these referred to physical strongholds, we can draw metaphorical parallels from them. The word “strongholds” is used metaphorically only one time in the New Testament. In 2 Corinthians 10:3–5, Paul writes: “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
This passage shows us that spiritual strongholds are arguments, lofty opinions, and thoughts that are raised against the knowledge of God, or, are held in esteem over Him. Strongholds are rooted in pride because they rely on the self. They lead to a prideful heart, unhealthy thought patterns, and habitual sins that we just can’t seem to overcome. Anything that we trust in besides the Lord can become a spiritual stronghold.
Because strongholds are spiritual, our battle to fight them takes place in the spiritual-realm and needs to be fought with spiritual weapons. Ephesians 6:10–18 affirms that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal weapons, but spiritual ones that enable us to stand strong against the Devil’s schemes. These are the weapons God has provided for us: “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:14-18a).
If we are wise, we will tear down spiritual strongholds in our lives using these spiritual tools, restoring our full trust in the Lord (Proverbs 21:22). Tearing down strongholds is not easy, and when we begin to fight we will most certainly experience resistance. There can be both carnal and demonic spiritual strongholds in our lives, families, and churches, but Christ’s power enables us to be free from them and also gives us the ability to operate in His power to help others be free from them, too. Instead of depending on ourselves and being in bondage, we can fully place our trust in God and His love for us and make Him the only stronghold we have: “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2; see also Psalm 94:22).
Even though we will experience resistance when we begin destroying spiritual strongholds, we can remain confident that in doing this we are being used by the Lord to build His Church, and He will not allow Satan to triumph in the end (Matthew 16:18). Jesus has already won the war. Psalm 144:1–2 says:
“Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.”
It’s our responsibility to be warriors for Christ to tear down spiritual strongholds and fight the spiritual battles here on the earth using the weapons God has given us. Though we are in a fierce battle, we can be confident knowing that we are on the winning side. (Quote source here.)
However, I’ve learned that praise will silence the enemy, give us strength and lighten our load, and save us from our enemies. Therefore it’s an effective weapon. We can fight the enemy and even our own negative feelings with praise. Praise creates an atmosphere for the Holy Spirit to work and move and for God to answer prayers.
“Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” Psalm 8:2 (NIV)
“To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3 (NKJV)
“I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.” Psalm 18:3 (ESV)
Praise is a weapon that is different from other kinds of weapons
It’s both a spiritual offensive and a defensive weapon. God has given us different kinds of spiritual weapons to use. They are stronger and more powerful than any weapon of this world with which we might do battle. Praise as a weapon might seem unnatural but it IS supernatural.
“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4 (NIV)
We praise in and by faith
Praising in the middle of a battle DOES seem counterintuitive and contradictory. We praise when it doesn’t make sense to do so because we have faith in the power of God. Praise is a weapon of faith—it’s a fight of faith. We praise in spite of the circumstances surrounding us.
“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)
“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12 (NIV)
“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NLT)
Praise is often a sacrifice and act of surrender
Praise is a weapon to use in spite of our feelings (and our negative feelings are sometimes even overcome with our praise). Because of this sometimes our praise is a sacrifice…because we don’t FEEL like doing it. It will cost us our time and our energy.
“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” Hebrews 13:15 (NIV)
Praise invites God into the situation…. (Quote source here.)
At this point, I will direct you to her post at this link, where she describes how praise invites God into the situation; how praise acknowledges that God is greater; and how praise causes the enemy to flee. She also includes stories from the Bible where praise was used as a weapon in the lives of King Jehoshaphat, Paul and Silas, David, and Joshua in the battle of Jericho. She ends her post with some practical steps in using praise as a weapon. (Click here to read her post.)
I’ll admit that whenever I get upset about something, praise usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind; yet praise is very calming, and it take our mind and focus off of the situation and puts it where it belongs–on God.
I’ll end this post with the words from Psalm 150 (NIV):
Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything . . .
That has breath . . .
Praise the Lord . . . .
YouTube Video: “Psalm 8 (How Majestic Is Your Name)” by Shane & Shane: