“Say to God ‘How wonderful are the things you do! Your power is so great that your enemies bow down in fear before you”.
Ps 66:3 GNB
The reference to God having enemies will strike most people as odd – the sort of statement that makes many people turn away from the Bible and dismiss it as hopelessly out of date.
It is likely that it was written in the time when loyalty by any nation to its god was very strong. Nations were constantly at war with each other and the people assumed that any nation that was their nation’s enemy was also defended by that nation’s god and therefore the different gods all had enemies as well. The idea that God was the God of all the nations of the world was only emerging slowly and tentatively and took centuries to really take hold as a generally accepted understanding of God.
What the Israelites believed implicitly was that God had intervened on their behalf against the Egyptians at the time of the exodus from Egypt and that therefore he was a really mighty God. They also believed that other surrounding nations attributed their release to their God as well and that they would therefore fear God – and the Israelites who worshipped him. Whether the other nations thought as far as that is highly unlikely.
The coming of Jesus put paid to the concept of tribal gods. The Holy Spirit moved the disciples to take the message of the universal love of God to Gentile people and it was among them that Christianity took root on a wide scale.
Christians need to be careful that they don’t “colonise” God and regard him as existing to make their nation great. He belongs to every nation.
Lord, keep us from thinking that you are there to make us great.