A warrior to his fingertips!

King David Playing the Harp (1622) by Gerard van Honthorst

“Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight,” Psalm 144:1.

David was a warrior. He was engaged in WAR all his days and that most successfully. In that he was a type of the Lord Jesus. This world has a very perverted view of Christ, mislead chiefly by the ‘pansied’ notions of liberal preachers. This world will one day see Him as He is.  “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war,” Revelation 19:11.

Please note from our text, read on the Sabbath past as part of my daily Bible readings, that:


1. The wars of men are rarely if ever born of anything other than fleshly desires.There have been wars that are termed ‘just’. Evil dictators and aggressors have been opposed by those whose liberties and wellbeing they threaten. But even such are attended by wickedness and cruelty. The battlefield has very been a place where fleshly lusts have reared their head. The worst of crimes have marred the most honourable attempts to curtail and bring to justice those whose whole desire is to afflict and harm their neighbours.

In living memory, Adolf Hitler is an example of the tyrant who it was right to go to war to overthrow. None can deny however, that wrong was wrought by soldiers in the allied armies during that honourable crusade.

2. In more recent times we have seen tyrants warring against their weaker neighbours. In Iraq, Syria, North Korea, and at the present time, the evil attack of Putin’s Russia upon Ukraine, are all examples of the actions of tyrants. Many have sought to aid Ukraine’s struggle against her tyrannical neighbour, believing her cause to be just. Yet, we would be foolish to think that every action of Ukraine’s armies was untainted by wrongdoing! Man’s ‘rules of war’ are rarely kept on the battlefield. Human rage and revenge are frequently yielded to!

3. However, there is an ongoing war which is virtuous in ever detail, though sadly, it must be confessed that those engaged in this holy war have often marred its testimony by breaching the rules laid down for its conduct.

I am referring to that war the Lord started and has maintained against sin and the devil. The beginning of that war is recorded in Genesis. “And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel,” Genesis 3:14-15.

The word ‘enmity’ literally means ‘hatred’. The word is used of the wicked animosity and perpetual hatred, a hereditary enmity from Esau’s time, the father of the Edomites, against Isreal. “Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time that their iniquity had an end,” Ezekiel 35:5.

The Lord has put a ‘holy hatred’ in the hearts of His people against sin. Thus David said: “I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked,” Psalm 26:5. And again, “I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the LORD,” Psalm 31:6. Once more, “Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies,” Psalm 139:21-22.

It is of the warfare that springs from this ‘enmity’ that God has placed within His heart that David speaks in our text.


The marginal readings renders it ‘the war’. That is, the war that the Lord started. It was in that warfare that David has been taught the skills of battle in order to take part and triumph.

The word ‘teacheth’ carried the meaning of ‘diligent instruction’. No recruit in any earthly army was ever trained and tutored in the ways of war like the soldier of the Lord!

1. The Christians has been given the very best of weapons. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints,” Ephesians 6:10-18.

Here are weapons by which we may pull down the fortifications of the devil, weapons that protect every part of the Christian warrior. They are armaments of war that will never fail, and when used aright, through which the enemy can find no chink or breach. In the midst of the battle, communications do not fail between the soldier and His Commander, an all too tragic failure on the battlefields of men! In the midst of battle we may still maintain contact  with the Lord, “praying always with all prayer”.

2. These weapons and armour and strengthening of the spirit of the Christian soldier, make us ‘conquerors’, even when it appears we are conquered! As Christ’s ‘defeat’ at Calvary was, in truth, His greatest victory and the enemy’s greatest defeat, so it is with the child of God.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Romans 8:35-39.

“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death,” Revelation 12:10-11.

Slain by the devil, yes, but overcoming him by the blood pf the Lamb nevertheless!

3. The martyr’s death on the battlefield was but the gateway to glory and everlasting honour.

“And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” Revelation 6:9-10.

Honoured yes, and revenged!

What a price wicked men will yet pay for lighting the martyr’s fires and employing the sword against the saints of God in their efforts to quench their witness and light in this world!

“And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; and the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth,” Revelation 18:21-24.

The word ‘found’ suggests a searching out and of course it is a searching of that evil system that has dominated mankind since earth’s earliest ages and which will at the end of this age, be centred once again in the city of Babylon. In it will be found ‘the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth’.


The Muslim faith is on record as teaching its people that if they die battling for the furtherance of Islam, they are guaranteed a place in ‘paradise’! That is but the devil’s counterfeit of that promised to the true child of God in the warfare waged against the devil and his lying agents. How deceitful is the devil and how sad that millions of Muslims have perished everlastingly clinging to the false promise of their ‘Mullahs’!


The Lord would have us employ our ‘hands’ and our ‘fingers’ in the fight against His enemies.

1. This denotes a total surrender of our whole being to God. Rebellion within our being is not to be tolerated. Rather, it must be put down most diligently, irrespective of the cost and pain involved. “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell,” Matthew 5:29-30. These words would surely suggest that where there is a tolerating of sin within us there is an absence of true grace and hell will prove to be our eternal dwelling place.

This truth is borne out by John in 1 John 5:18. “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” The words ‘sinneth not’ mean, as one commentator puts it, “ . . . nor does he live in sin, or is under the power and dominion of it.” We are not perfectly free of sin as John indicated earlier in his epistle. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us,” 1 John 1:8-10. But while we do sin, the true Christians does not yield to it and freely indulge in it, but rather fights and resists it and ever seeks forgiveness and cleansing from it!

2. There is no component of our being that is too small or insignificant to be of use to God. Even the fingers of a child! “There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?” John 6:9. That lad’s fingers gripped the little package of food that his mother doubtless prepared for him as he ventured forth to har the saviour. I cannot but commend this mother for thus apparent sanctioning and encouraging her lad’s attendance upon the Lord.

Oh mothers, ever encourage your children to attend meetings where the Word of the Lord is set forth. The ‘littlest’ fingers can serve the Lord and contribute in the setting forth of the glory and power of the Lord Jesus, as did did this little lad’s yielding up of his “five barley loaves, and two small fishes”. Before the Saviour “took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down,” the little lad had yield up his little bundle to the Lord and it became, in the Saviour’s hands, a mighty blessing for thousands!

His little fingers, if I may say so, gave rise to the wonderful display of divine power that day!

An old hymn from the Presbyterian Church in Ireland hymnbook of a bygone age, has this children’s hymn from which every adult may learn as well.

O what can little hands do
to please the King of heaven?
The little hands some work may try,
to help all those in poverty:
such grace to mine be given.

O what can little lips do
to please the King of heaven?
The little lips can praise and pray,
and gentle words of kindness say:
such grace to mine be given.

O what can little eyes do
to please the King of heaven?
The little eyes can upward look,
can learn to read God’s holy book:
such grace to mine be given.

O what can little hearts do
to please the King of heaven?
Young hearts, if God His Spirit send,
can love their Maker, Saviour, Friend:
such grace to mine be given.

Grace W. Hinsdale (1832-1902)

My wife, Ann, can recall being taught those words in Sabbath School in the Gospel Tabernacle, by the late Mrs Isobel Paisley, mother of the late Dr Ian Paisley.

3. No matter how strong the hand or skilful the fingers they must be taught and strengthened by the Lord. The Lord is to the successful warrior both ‘strength’ and ‘tutor’. Please note the first words of my text as well as the last. “Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.”

We can do nothing in our own strength. Even mighty David’s strength had its limits. “Moreover the Philistines had yet war again with Israel; and David went down, and his servants with him, and fought against the Philistines: and David waxed faint. And Ishbibenob, which was of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight, he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David. But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel,” 2 Samuel 21:15-17.

But there is a greater than ‘Abishai the son of Zeruiah’ to strengthen and succour the believer. He is the Lord Jesus.

I trust, dear reader, that you can say with rejoicing Israel who one day will say: “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation,” Isaiah 12:2.

Those thus strengthened through faith in the Lord Jesus can say: “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, ” 1 Corinthians 15:57. On the basis of that most certain victory we can go on to say with Paul: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord,” verse 58.

Let me close with another exhortation of the great apostle. “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. . . . Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness,” Romans 6:13, 16-19.

May the Lord bless this simple message.

Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd)

13th July 2023