January 18, 2010
Imagine this scene. Julius Peppers, all-pro defensive end for the Carolina Panthers, shows up in your neighborhood, looking for some friendly competition. He is inviting anybody who is man enough to take him on in the meat grinder. That’s what we used to call it when I played football back before I knew I couldn’t. The coaches would lay two tackling dummies on the ground (big padded cylindrical things, not slow linemen). He would call two names and those players would have to face each other, one with the ball. When the whistle blew, they collided in the middle of those two dummies.
So, here is Peppers, all 6-7, 283 lbs of him, inviting all comers to line up in the meat grinder with him. There are men standing around trying to summon their courage. Some are pretty beefy guys. But suddenly, I push my way through the crowd, shoving large men aside so I can get down in a three-point stance across from Pep, and I look up and scowl at the big fella. What would Peppers likely do at this point? He would do the same thing David Briggs did when I was in the ninth grade and challenged him to a fight after school. David was dating a girl that I liked and so I got in his face during lunch one day and said, “Me and you, Briggs. After school. In the wrestling room!” I said it with as much bravado I could muster, as I looked up at David and poked him in the chest. He outweighed me by at least 100 pounds. He was an offensive lineman on the football team, an upperclassman, and a stud. I was a pipsqueak with an attitude. David laughed. Then he shook his head and said, “Are you serious? Fox, it’s not your day to die. Go pick a fight with someone your size.” That made me mad, so I poked him again and said, “See you after school.”
News travels fast of an execution. David and I were on the center of the mat, and there were probably 100 kids around us, yelling and laughing at me and waiting to see the massacre. That’s when it happened. No, I didn’t execute a perfect flying roundhouse and knock David out. Nor did I put him in the sleeper hold that I had learned from Chief Wahoo McDaniel. David walked over, put his arm around my shoulders, and said with a friendly smile, “I’m not going to fight you, Fox. I’m afraid I would kill you.” Then he walked out as I stood there trying to look tough, trying to look like I had actually won the fight.
King David asked this question about 3,000 years ago: “Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing?” In Psalm 2, David is incredulous that the people of the world would fight against God. That they would plot against his Son. That they would dare to challenge the Creator to duke it out with them. God responds to man’s challenge the same way David did to mine. God laughs. He does not pace the floor of heaven, wondering what on earth he will do. He does not work feverishly to muster an army. No, God sits in the heavens. And he laughs.
That’s the image David paints for us in the Psalm. God is laughing.
What should you do? Climb out of the ring and surrender. As David said, “Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.”