American baby-boomers have been labelled the “Me Generation” for our narcissistic tendencies and devotion to self-actualization, self-fulfillment and self-realization. But according to Scripture, every person and every generation is guilty of such self-absorption.
Why else would Paul tell the first century Roman Christians, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment” (Romans 12:3). We are wired to look around and tell the world, “Look at me. See what I’ve done!”
When reading the Bible it can appear that godly people are drawing unnecessary attention to themselves. In Psalm 18, for example, David is rehearsing his victory over enemies who had hounded him for years.He says, “I pursued my enemies and overtook them. I did not turn back till they were destroyed. I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feat” (Psalm 18:37-38).
It sounds like David is taking the credit for a great accomplishment. And if these were the only verses in this psalm, one could conclude that David was quite full of himself.
But such is the danger of taking a passage out of context. When we read the entire psalm, we find David praising God repeatedly for His role in the conquest. The Lord had promised David that he would become the King of Israel, and eventually this promise was fulfilled only because God made it happen.
Listen to how David gives credit where credit is due:
“You armed me with strength for battle; you made my adversaries bow at my feet. You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes” (Psalm 18:39-40). Yes, David destroyed his foes because God intervened and provided the strength and military savvy to pull it off.
Over and over in Psalm 18 you’ll see that God is the focus. He is the subject of almost every sentence, the One doing the saving, delivering, empowering and sustaining of David.
“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze” (Psalm 18:32-34).
Reality check: When you experience success, how gets the praise? How easy it is for us to take credit. After all, we did something, right? We studied hard and earned that degree. We worked hard and got that promotion. We exercised ourselves to the point of exhaustion and finished the race.
Ah, how easy it is to look at life with the eyes of our fallen flesh!
Yes, we are capable of great things. But where did we get the resources? Who made us and put us here? Who gave us the breath of life and the opportunity to wake up day after day with good health and ample provision of food, clothing and shelter? Who endowed us with a mind to think and legs to walk and hands to use?
Ah, when we look at life with the eyes of faith, everything changes.Instead of seeing what a great human being I am, we sing with David:
“You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can run through a barricade; with my God I can scale a wall” (Psalm 18:28-29).
Yes, God is the source of our strength, whether we realize it or not. Every breath we take is a gift from His gracious hand.
David realized that. How about you?
May the words of Jesus resonate in our hearts every day: “Apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).