If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast (Psalm 139:9,10).
The old recruitment slogan read: “Join the Navy and see the world.” Many a young American did just that. Some still do. Another slogan announced: “It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure!” That one was also successful. Behind both of the slogans is the message that to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces will enable a person to see places and do things unusual and exciting. What is not mentioned is that the recruits will have little to say about where they will go or what they will do. In the lingo of the Marines, “The head shed decides all of that.” The phrase, “the wings of the dawn,” points one to the east, where the sunrise spreads itself on the horizon as if it had wings. For the Israelite, “the far side of the sea” was to the west, where the sun sets. The psalmist is saying: “Wherever I go…”
Many who have worn the uniform have seen sunrises and sunsets in far off places. Sometimes they were on an adventure. At other times, they certainly would have not called it that. At all times, there was an element of risk. It came with the job. The job is to protect America, even if it means going to distant and dangerous places.
The writer of this psalm, King David, understood the risk of being a warrior. He spent most of his life at war. His career started with taking down Goliath. He carried his weapons even into old age. He was a hero. But he was not self-reliant. He was not cocky. He knew that his life was but a breath that could fade in less than a minute. He understood that the Lord God was king over him, and the source of his strength. Of the Lord, David said, “You shield my head in the day of battle” (Psalm 140:7).
The question every warrior asks as he heads into danger is, “Will my support be there when I need it? Will someone have my back? Will someone cover me when I move into danger?” David had brave and tested troops under him. He depended upon them. But most of all, he depended upon the Lord his God. The Lord would be there no matter where he went. He would be there to guide him. He would be there to support him. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” David will write in the 23rd Psalm. “I will fear no evil” he will say. “For thou art with me…” he will explain. “Wherever I go…” he said. East or west, or anyplace in between—his God will be there. “Wherever I go…” On mountain tops or in valleys—his God will be there. “Wherever I go…” In life or in death—his God will be there. “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” This is the promise of the one who defeated death and gave us life everlasting.
This God is our God. This promise is to us. Our God will be there to guide and support. Even when we rise on the wings of the dawn.
We pray: Almighty Father, strong to save. Be with us wherever we go. Guide and support us. Forgive our sins for Jesus’ sake and send the Holy Spirit to keep us from harm to body or soul.