“The Battle Is the Lord’s”

“And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.” —I Samuel 17:47

THERE is no recorded incident in the Bible that illustrates more dramatically the Lord’s overruling providences and his willingness to fight for his people than David’s victory over Goliath, and the subsequent dispersion of the Philistines. It was necessary, of course, that David demonstrate his faith, and this he did by insisting on meeting the Philistine, even though he was a dwarf beside Goliath. David disdained the proffered armor and confronted the Philistine with only a sling and some stones. In verse 45 David said: “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.”

The result of this confrontation is well-known. “And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.”—vs. 49

It is reasonable to assume that Goliath was arrayed in almost invincible armor, including a helmet and a shield. Perhaps it was just for a moment that an opening in the helmet presented itself as a target to David; but that was all that was necessary, and the Lord saw to it that the missile found its mark.

When the Lord made the covenant with the children of Israel at Mount Sinai, he set them apart as his people. In Deuteronomy 7:7,8,12,24 we read: “The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: but because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. … If ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, … the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers. … And he shall deliver … kings into thine hand, and thou shalt destroy their name from under heaven: there shall no man be able to stand before thee, until thou have destroyed them.”

When the nation of Israel was obedient and faithful they enjoyed this wonderful relationship with the Lord. But when they were disobedient and unfaithful the Lord punished them.

Hezekiah was one of the kings of Israel who found favor in the Lord’s sight. He came to the throne when his father Ahaz died, and he immediately began to reinstitute the priesthood and the temple and all that pertained to them. In II Chronicles 31:20,21, we read: “And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought that which was good and right and truth before the Lord his God. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.”

But after these things a wicked king of Assyria, Sennacherib, encamped against the cities and sought to win them for himself. When Hezekiah determined that the Assyrian king proposed to fight against Jerusalem, he gathered his princes and heads of the tribes together and took counsel. They planned their defense and strengthened themselves.

Then Hezekiah went to the people, saying: “Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him: with him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.”—II Chron. 32:7,8

It appears from the statement “There be more with us than with him” that Hezekiah was aware of the heavenly army and the awesome power of God that was standing by ready to fight the battle. Against such forces the arm of flesh employed by the Assyrian king would be helpless when put to the test. And the people had confidence in Hezekiah, a king who had the favor and blessing of Jehovah God, and they put their trust in the overruling providences of the Lord on their behalf.

But Sennacherib launched a campaign among the people to discredit Hezekiah and cast doubt upon the power of the Lord to deliver them from the siege. In II Chronicles 32:10 we read, “Thus saith Sennacherib king of Assyria, Whereon do ye trust, that ye abide in the siege in Jerusalem?” The thought that was intended to be conveyed was complete disdain for the protection that might be offered by the God of Israel.

Then, to undermine the influence of Hezekiah, the Assyrian said: “Doth not Hezekiah persuade you to give over yourselves to die by famine and by thirst, saying, The Lord our God shall deliver us out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Hath not the same Hezekiah taken away his high places and his altars, and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall worship before one altar, and burn incense upon it?”—vss. 11,12

Among many of the reforms that had been instituted by Hezekiah was one to banish idol worship. In the 1st verse of the 31st chapter we read, “All Israel that were present went out to the cities of Judah, and brake the images in pieces, and cut down the groves, and threw down the high places.” Sennacherib suggested to the minds of the Israelites that this was a fatal mistake; for because of this when they found that Jehovah was unable to help them, they would not be able to turn to other gods because they had been desecrated.

But then Sennacherib suggested that their faith in one God, or even a multiplicity of gods, was foolishness anyway, because in the past no one had been able to stand up against his armies. In verse 15 (ch. 32) we read: “For no god of any nation or kingdom was able to deliver his people out of mine hand, and out of the hand of my fathers: how much less shall your God deliver you out of mine hand?”

These fiery darts began to have a telling effect upon the Israelites, especially as the effort to destroy their faith intensified. In verses 16 to 19 we read that the Assyrians spoke more against the Lord God and Hezekiah. They wrote letters and they cried with loud voices in Israel’s own language, suggesting that all gods were the work of man’s hands and that nothing could save the Israelites.

The children of Israel did not rail against their tormentors but turned to the Lord, the source of their strength. They realized that in their own strength they could not stand up against such onslaughts. They realized that the battle was the Lord’s. In verses 20,21 we read: “And for this cause Hezekiah the king, and the Prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz, prayed and cried to heaven. And the Lord sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valor, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land.”

“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition.” (I Cor. 10:11) What lessons can we, as probationary members of the body of Christ, learn from these experiences of the nation of Israel? We are told in II Corinthians 10:3-5: “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 strongholds;) 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.”

In I Peter 5:6-10 we have the additional admonition: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”

Our Christian walk is a continuous battle with the spirit of darkness, Satan. And we find his influence manifested in our flesh and in the world all about us. Our enemy is a giant, in whose presence we are feeble indeed. The apostle calls him a wily foe, and our Lord instructed us to pray, “Abandon us not in temptation but deliver us from evil [margin: evil one].” Quite obviously we need the Heavenly Father’s assistance, as did David and Hezekiah.

All whom the Lord accepts as prospective members of the body of Christ have been anointed and have come under the divine power and guidance; and these therefore have the privilege of calling on him for help in time of need. But, as with David and Hezekiah, the Lord expects his children to carry the battle against the Adversary as far as they can. It is the natural tendency of those of us who must contend with so powerful an adversary to want to don an armor similar to that worn by Goliath. But the Christian must soon realize that our weapons are not carnal. We cannot fight evil with evil, wrong with wrong, slander with slander. If we do undertake to do so, we will surely lose the battle.

The Lord expects the Christian to use those things that he has provided for their own defense. The Apostle Paul does liken those things that the Lord has provided to armor, but he gives a spiritual application to its various parts.

In Ephesians 6:10 we read, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” It is worthy of notice that the apostle did not say, “Be strong in your own strength,” but rather, he admonishes us to be strong in the Lord and his power. We can be strong in the Lord only if we rest in him; that is, if we cease from our own works. To rest completely means that we must exercise complete faith in the Lord’s overruling providences.

Then in verse 11 the apostle states, “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil.” It is essential that the Christian make use of every defense that the Lord has provided for us, else the Devil will find the weak spot, and suddenly we will become exposed to the vastly superior strength and intellect of Satan.

“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 armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (vss. 12,13) In these verses the apostle redefines for us who is our real enemy. It is Satan and the fallen angels, and even individuals in the world who, because of ignorance, are serving his interests. The thought of standing does not mean that we have reached some pinnacle of perfection but rather that we have donned our protection of the armor of God and that with it we can stand our ground and fight. But again the apostle reemphasizes the necessity of having on the whole armor in order to be able to stand.

The girdle generally illustrates a condition of servitude; but it also—when it was used to tie back the flowing garments of that day—pictures action, and this seems to be the thought in verse 14. “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.” It is only because of an understanding of God’s Word, made possible through the Holy Spirit, that activity or any meaningful relationship with the Lord is possible, for it is through an understanding of his plans and purposes that God reveals himself to us as a God of love. This strikes a responsive chord in the hearts of his people, and they are motivated to consecrate and dedicate their lives to serving the Lord and his beneficent purposes.

The breastplate of righteousness represents justification. It is because of our consecration and its acceptance by God that he applies the merit of Christ’s sacrifice—the ransom price—on our behalf. The apostle describes the result of this as follows, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:1) Because of this we are enabled to come confidently to the throne of grace and to claim the precious promises that belong to his people. Another interesting feature of the breastplate was that it was made in two parts, a front and a back, and these two parts were tied together with the girdle, representing truth, or God’s Word.

In Ephesians 6:15 we read, “And your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.” This seemingly unimportant feature of the Christian’s armor represents in the reality one of the most important aspects of the Christian life. The Bible uses the feet and sandals as a picture of the church down through the Gospel Age carrying forth the glad tidings of the Gospel. This is the commission of the church, as it was also our Lord’s commission. The apostle expresses the thought in Romans 10:13-17: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! … So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

It is by fulfilling this responsibility of preaching the glad tidings that the footstep followers of Jesus have the opportunity to prove their loyalty and to develop character and the fruits and graces of the Spirit. It is the method that the Lord chose for his people to demonstrate their faith by works.

A strong faith based on the sure promises of God is one of the most important parts of the Christian’s armor in warding off the attacks of the Adversary. And so in verse 16 the apostle states, “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” We must remember, too, that the child of the Lord is the target, not only of the Adversary, but of his minions and of people of the world as they have been blinded through ignorance and prejudices by the prince of this world. But a strong faith will quench all their fiery darts.

Then in verse 17 the final pieces of the Christian’s armor are enumerated: “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” The helmet of salvation would seem to represent the Christian’s hope. We think of the apostle’s words when describing Jesus in his Christian walk: “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:2) This is the hope, or mental vision, of the joys and blessings of the kingdom that we must hold before our mind’s eye to help carry us through the trials and testings of the Christian walk.

The sword of the Spirit is the truth. It shines as a light in a dark place. It is the means by which the child of the Lord gives a reason for the hope that is in him and stops the mouth of those who oppose. We think of our Lord’s use of the sword of the Spirit as an example for us. In Matthew 22:42-46 we have the account of Jesus’ question to the scribes and Pharisees, who had been almost continuously harassing him. “What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.”

The Lord knew that they would not be able to answer that question, for to answer it in its fullness requires the reasoning of an enlightened mind and a knowledge of the truth. This the scribes and Pharisees did not have, for “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.” (I Cor. 2:14) And so our Lord used the sword of the Spirit to stop the mouths of those who were being used by Satan. To handle the Word of truth is one of the greatest privileges, and also a great responsibility, of the footstep followers of Jesus.

Then, like Hezekiah, having made every preparation possible to stand and fight, we should go to the ultimate source of our strength, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” (Eph. 6:18) Like the faithful servants of God in the past, who “quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.” (Heb. 11:34) These were not weak in any sense except that they did not rely on their own strength to deliver them, for they realized that the battle was the Lord’s.

And we, like the three Hebrew children, must be ready to accept the Lord’s decision in the matter. “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, … O king. But if not, … we will not serve thy gods.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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