Our Significant Insignificance: Reflections on Psalm 144

P1060408I love how Psalm 144 situates verses 3-4 smack in between a blessing on the God who equips us, defends, and fights for us (vv. 1-2) and a call for him to come down and fight for us and bless us (v. 5ff). The question of v. 3 is answered in v. 4, but the answer does not lend itself naturally to the call of v. 5! If man is so insignificant (vv. 3-4), what is the basis for the Psalmist’s call for God to interrupt his schedule to help little ole’ me (vv. 5ff)? Well, that basis is found in vv. 1-2—God equips, defends, and fights for his people. But why does he do this?

This is why I love Psalm 144 and find it noteworthy. That question is not directly answered. Its like a circular argument: Question: Why would God bend the heavens and come down (v. 5) for the sake of the insignificant, vaporous vanity that is humanity (vv. 3-4)? Answer: Because that’s what God does (vv.1-2)!

Upon reflection, I think the answer is implicit. Our significance doesn’t come from being key players in world history. Look at Moses, Martin Luther, Karl Marx, and all the key players in between and after (including Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Constantine, Muhammad, Charlemagne, and Steve Jobs!): I won’t influence the world stage as any of them did, nor likely will anyone I influence do so. But even those dudes aren’t significant eternally for those things.

Here it is: Our significance comes from the manner in which God relates to us, whether it be to use our hands (“training our hands for battle”, v. 1) or to use our helplessness (“fortress and deliverer”, v. 2). Our role is to be a context for the showcasing of God’s strength, beauty, and goodness. It doesn’t matter what things I accomplish on the world stage. Rather, what matters are the things God accomplishes on the cosmic stage using me as a foil, antagonist, prop, or as background scenery.

I am prone toward depression whenever I realize I am but a drop in the ocean of humanity, unlikely to be remembered beyond a few generations. But God’s perspective is that He is the hero of history and eternity, and as long as we’re attached to him in a way that glorifies his splendor, we are significant. The Psalm concludes most truly:

“Blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!” (v. 15)

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