My ability to find and keep peace, is directly related to my determination to trust. In this sense, peace is a discipline. The mental and spiritual discipline of continually choosing trust, builds the muscle of faith. Great faith is the result of exercising our frail muscles of childlike trust.
Look at how David did this. Only the second human king of God’s people, his predecessor a man driven mad by spiritual oppression and jealousy, David was a warrior. He was a king, anointed by God to rule.
And yet, He chose, from the time he was a boy, to trust God to fight for Him.
He determined to rely on God’s protection and authority—his faith was bigger than his fear despite his resources. Remember the story of the stone and the sling? Goliath, a giant mocking God’s people and none of them were brave enough to defend the name of God or themselves. David was indignant. Who does this guys think He is, coming against the army of the living God? So he volunteers! This little guy who was a shepherd of all things. But he was completely confident in God’s protection. He recalled all the times God had rescued Him before (see 2 Samuel 17:34-37). His confidence in the person of God and the ability of God, gave him the bravery to step forward with only a sling and stone against a giant. And listen to this voice of faith:
45 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. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 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.” (1 Samuel 17: 45-47)
Goliath fell, the enemy ran away, not from a stone in a sling and a shepherd buy, but from a God who fights for His people. Our own resources will ALWAYS fall short so that miracles may happen—if we make space for them to. If we don’t run away from the challenge. If we focus instead on the faithfulness of a God who is really much bigger than our problems.
I think this is why David was so favored by God. He trusted Him. COMPLETELY.
Even as a warrior under Saul, in David’s mind, success on the battlefield came from God alone. Victory was a gift from Him, not something we could earn on our own. Because David trusted God, more than the tools at his disposal (chariots and armies) this man was able to know the Shalom of God. The peace that comes under His protection. I believe David fought a continual mental battle to remain reliant on God. We can see this re-assertion of trust over and over in the songs he wrote as he forced himself over and over to reinstate God’s rule in his heart despite fear, despite threat,
Now this I know:
The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
8 They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.
9 Lord, give victory to the king!
Answer us when we call! (Psalm 20 6-9)
David was unique in this. He was a king, anointed by God to rule, and yet, He deferred to God’s protection and authority—not out of fear, but out of worship. In David’s mind, success on the battlefield came from God alone. Victory was a gift from Him, not something we could earn on our own. Because David trusted God, more than the tools at his disposal (chariots and armies) this man was able to know the Shalom of God. The peace that comes under His protection.
Here’s a reading list in case you’re still not sure about all of this…
Psalms 34, 56, 61, 71, 91, 121,
1 Samuel 4:1-11; 2 Sam 5:17-20; 2 Kings 3; 2 Chronicles 20; 2 Kings 13:1-5)
David was weak, the Kings were weak, but God is strong—a shelter, a fortress, wings that cover us, a rock. He CAN be trusted. The peace Jesus gives is a peace that must be chosen. He does not force it on us. It is not a peace in the sense of “an absence of war” that is based on military might or human power, like the Romans promised. It is not even a humanly arranged Shalom, a situation of well-being like the Jews perceived of in an ideal community protected by a human king. The peace that Jesus gives is only found in denying trust in anything else, including our own ability, resources, and skills. It is a trust fall that fully realizes, decides actually, that we have will absolutely no other backup plan. Only then do we drop fully into the arms of God, finally home—back where we belong. It is a peace that actively rejects all other potential sources of hope in our choice of relying on God’s resourcing, His strength, His protection, and His provision.
I’m not entirely sure I’ve maintained that level of intentional determined trust in my adult years. Something about growing up and learning and being able to buy “things” get jobs with “insurance” and save up for a rainy day gives is a false sense of security in our own abilities doesn’t it? It’s only when those things are held up in the light of His burning love, that we start to see the rebellion in the way we have been thinking about things—realize that in our heart of hearts we still resist trust and that fear can quickly become rebellion.
What other “kings” have you trusted to protect you? People, jobs, money, relationships, power, Insurance companies, lawyers, health professionals? I know every day I need to stop and intentionally re-state and therefore reinstate his rule of authority and protection in my life today? Thank you God that you fight for us and that we can trust you even in the middle of crazy difficult circumstances…you fight for us; you give us peace.
Maybe we could re-state Psalm 20:9 this way…
Some trust in the resources they have, but we trust in the name and authority and power of the Lord our God!
Verse to memorize:
“Do not fear or be dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s. (2 Chronicles 20:15b)