For not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them.” (Psalm 44:3, ESV)

One of the things that we need to understand in the Christian life is that there is always an alternative explanation for what takes place in our life.  Answered prayer?  That was just a convenient coincidence.  Job received?  That was obviously because my new employer figured out how valuable I was.  Disease cured?  Two words: modern medicine.

The first thing that strikes me when I read Ps 44.3 is that, of course the Israelites won the land by their own sword.  They attacked and cities fell.  They were using their swords when they attacked.  The Sons of Korah, to whom the psalm is attributed, look beyond the immediate cause of something for the ultimate cause, and we should not miss this.  The ultimate cause of Israel taking the land was that God was with them and God delighted! in them.  He fought for them and He won the battles.

As followers of Christ we always need to be looking beyond the immediate cause of something to the ultimate cause because in doing so we will be both glorifying our Father and giving credit where credit is due.  Paul captures this thought very well:

What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?  (1 Cor 4.7b, ESV)

Talent, wealth, social position, health, job, abilities, family, and [insert any other thing here] are all ultimately from the God who created us, who delights in us, and who loves us.  We take too much credit for what God accomplishes in and through us and forget to give God the credit.  We are like the nine lepers who forget to turn around and thank Jesus for healing them.

John Calvin comments here: “The best means, therefore, of cherishing in us habitually a spirit of gratitude towards God, is to expel from our minds this foolish opinion of our own ability.”