Monday, January 22, 2018

Battling with the Strength of the Lord in the Elah Valley

As the rain poured down outside, we sat in the bus and looked out over the Elah Valley.  To the left, the hill that was occupied by the Philistines. 

Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah.  Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines.  The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them. 1 SAMUEL 17:1-3

To the right, the place where Saul and the Israelites would have assembled. And though now dry, the remains of a riverbed with smooth stones.

David, the youngest son of Jesse from Bethlehem,  a shepherd boy, had been anointed to be king of Israel by Samuel,

and from that day the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul and a harmful Spirit of the Lord tormented him.  1 SAMUEL 16:13-14

For Saul to be leading this battle knowing that the Spirit of the Lord had departed from him must have been particularly difficult. 

For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand. 1 SAMUEL 17:16

Trying to lead in our own strength can be so defeating, feeling like we are battling a Giant Philistine, but not getting anywhere. In contrast, the young shepherd, David, who was engaging this giant Philistine with the Spirit of the Lord, and all the experience of protecting his flock, was able to easily defeat the Giant. 

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.

All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.  1 SAMUEL 17:45; 47-50

This image of the Giant taking his stand for forty days is powerful! When we're trying and trying, expending a lot of effort with no movement or results, could it be that we're operating without the power of the Lord? 

In these days, the Lord has already poured out his Spirit - the wisdom and strength of the Lord is accessible. Paul writes:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.  EPHESIANS 6:12-18

My prayer is that, like David, you and I have a similar display of humble confidence in these times.  And, that we pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers ad requests SO THAT we will fearlessly make know the mystery of the Gospel. 

What battle are your fighting for which we can pray with you? 

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