“Do not fear or be dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s. 2 Chronicles 20:15b
Israel’s ability to find and keep peace, is directly related to their determination to trust in the Lord. In this sense, peace is a mental and spiritual discipline of continually choosing trust, building the muscle of faith. Great faith is the result of exercising our frail muscles of childlike trust. It’s only when our fears are held up to 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. And brave, bold, trust is the most obedient thing.
Again, we remember 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:
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 dead, the enemy ran away, not from a stone in a sling and a shepherd boy, but from a God who fights for His people. Our own resources will ALWAYS fall short so that miracles may happen—if we stay locked into trust. We don’t run away from the challenge. We focus instead on the faithfulness of a God who is really much bigger than our problems.
David was favored by God because 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 in Israel, on and off 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. (1 Samuel 4:1-11; 2 Sam 5:17-20; 2 Kings 3; 2 Chronicles 20; 2 Kings 13:1-5)
David subdued his enemies in partnership with the Lord. And when that was done He offered to Build God a house, a temple. What was God’s response? I will build and establish YOUR house. Israel will try again to build a temple, but the I believe Lord will establish the temple of heaven on earth miraculously. Isaac came miraculously. Pharoah was defeated miraculously. Yeshua came miraculously. Salvation and provision from the Lord always comes miraculously.
David was weak. The Kings were weak. We are 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 Yeshua gives is only found in denying trust in anything else, including our own ability, resources, and skills (though God may call on us to use those things). This is our surrender. 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.
(text slightly altered to pray to the Lord),
Lord, I will praise You at all times.
I will constantly speak Your praises.
2 I will boast only in the Lord;
let all who are helpless take heart.
3 Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;
let us exalt his name together.
4 I prayed to You, and You answered me.
You freed me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to You for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
6 In my desperation I prayed, and the You listened;
You saved me from all my troubles.
7 For the angel of the Lord is a guard;
he surrounds and defends all who fear him.
8 We will taste and see that You are good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in You!
9 We will fear You Lord,
for those who fear You will have all they need.
10 Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.
Lord, may all in Israel:
13 …keep our tongue from speaking evil
and our lips from telling lies!
14 Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
15 Your eyes, Oh Lord, watch over those who do right;
Your ears are open to their cries for help.
16 But You turn your face against those who do evil;
he will erase their memory from the earth.
17 You hear your people when they call to you for help.
You rescue us from all our troubles.
18 You are close to the brokenhearted;
You rescue those whose spirits are crushed.
19 The righteous person faces many troubles,
but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
20 For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous;
not one of them is broken!
21 Calamity will surely destroy the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
22 But You will redeem those who serve you.
No one who takes refuge in You will be condemned.
1 O God, have mercy on me,
for people are hounding me.
My foes attack me all day long.
2 I am constantly hounded by those who slander me,
and many are boldly attacking me.
3 But when I am afraid,
I will put my trust in you.
4 I praise God for what he has promised.
I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
What can mere mortals do to me?
5 They are always twisting what I say;
they spend their days plotting to harm me.
6 They come together to spy on me—
watching my every step, eager to kill me.
7 Don’t let them get away with their wickedness;
in your anger, O God, bring them down.
8 You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.
9 My enemies will retreat when I call to you for help.
This I know: God is on my side!
10 I praise God for what he has promised;
yes, I praise the Lord for what he has promised.
11 I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
What can mere mortals do to me?
12 I will fulfill my vows to you, O God,
and will offer a sacrifice of thanks for your help.
13 For you have rescued me from death;
you have kept my feet from slipping.
So now I can walk in your presence, O God,
in your life-giving light.
O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer!
2 From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help
when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety,
3 for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.
4 Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings!
O Lord, I have come to you for protection;
don’t let me be disgraced.
2 Save me and rescue me,
for you do what is right.
Turn your ear to listen to me,
and set me free.
3 Be my rock of safety
where I can always hide.
Give the order to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
4 My God, rescue me from the power of the wicked,
from the clutches of cruel oppressors.
5 O Lord, you alone are my hope.
I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood.
6 Yes, you have been with me from birth;
from my mother’s womb you have cared for me.
No wonder I am always praising you!
7 My life is an example to many,
because you have been my strength and protection.
8 That is why I can never stop praising you;
I declare your glory all day long.
9 And now, in my old age, don’t set me aside.
Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing.
10 For my enemies are whispering against me.
They are plotting together to kill me.
11 They say, “God has abandoned him.
Let’s go and get him,
for no one will help him now.”
12 O God, don’t stay away.
My God, please hurry to help me.
13 Bring disgrace and destruction on my accusers.
Humiliate and shame those who want to harm me.
14 But I will keep on hoping for your help;
I will praise you more and more.
15 I will tell everyone about your righteousness.
All day long I will proclaim your saving power,
though I am not skilled with words.[a]
16 I will praise your mighty deeds, O Sovereign Lord.
I will tell everyone that you alone are just.
17 O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood,
and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do.
18 Now that I am old and gray,
do not abandon me, O God.
Let me proclaim your power to this new generation,
your mighty miracles to all who come after me.
19 Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens.
You have done such wonderful things.
Who can compare with you, O God?
20 You have allowed me to suffer much hardship,
but you will restore me to life again
and lift me up from the depths of the earth.
21 You will restore me to even greater honor
and comfort me once again.
22 Then I will praise you with music on the harp,
because you are faithful to your promises, O my God.
I will sing praises to you with a lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
23 I will shout for joy and sing your praises,
for you have ransomed me.
24 I will tell about your righteous deeds
all day long,
for everyone who tried to hurt me
has been shamed and humiliated.
Lord, we thank you for remembering your promises over Israel:
Israel shall be saved by the LORD…18 Thus says the LORD…who formed the earth…“I am the LORD…19 I have not spoken in secret…I, the LORD, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right…22 Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth…23 I have sworn by Myself; the word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness…that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath. 24 He shall say, ‘Surely in the LORD I have righteousness and strength.’” (Isa. 45:17-24)
But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned…I am… your Savior…Since you were precious in My sight, you have been honored, and I have loved you…” (Isa. 43:1-4)
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.
16 You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’
Therefore you will flee!
You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’
Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
17 A thousand will flee
at the threat of one;
at the threat of five
you will all flee away,
till you are left
like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,
like a banner on a hill.”
18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
19 People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” 22 Then you will desecrate your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, “Away with you!”
23 He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will graze in broad meadows. 24 The oxen and donkeys that work the soil will eat fodder and mash, spread out with fork and shovel. 25 In the day of great slaughter, when the towers fall, streams of water will flow on every high mountain and every lofty hill. 26 The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.
27 See, the Name of the Lord comes from afar,
with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke;
his lips are full of wrath,
and his tongue is a consuming fire.
28 His breath is like a rushing torrent,
rising up to the neck.
He shakes the nations in the sieve of destruction;
he places in the jaws of the peoples
a bit that leads them astray.
29 And you will sing
as on the night you celebrate a holy festival;
your hearts will rejoice
as when people playing pipes go up
to the mountain of the Lord,
to the Rock of Israel.
30 The Lord will cause people to hear his majestic voice
and will make them see his arm coming down
with raging anger and consuming fire,
with cloudburst, thunderstorm and hail.
31 The voice of the Lord will shatter Assyria;
with his rod he will strike them down.
32 Every stroke the Lord lays on them
with his punishing club
will be to the music of timbrels and harps,
as he fights them in battle with the blows of his arm.
33 Topheth has long been prepared;
it has been made ready for the king.
Its fire pit has been made deep and wide,
with an abundance of fire and wood;
the breath of the Lord,
like a stream of burning sulfur,
sets it ablaze.
Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help,
who rely on horses,
who trust in the multitude of their chariots
and in the great strength of their horsemen,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel,
or seek help from the Lord.
2 Yet he too is wise and can bring disaster;
he does not take back his words.
He will rise up against that wicked nation,
against those who help evildoers.
3 But the Egyptians are mere mortals and not God;
their horses are flesh and not spirit.
When the Lord stretches out his hand,
those who help will stumble,
those who are helped will fall;
all will perish together.
4 This is what the Lord says to me:
“As a lion growls,
a great lion over its prey—
and though a whole band of shepherds
is called together against it,
it is not frightened by their shouts
or disturbed by their clamor—
so the Lord Almighty will come down
to do battle on Mount Zion and on its heights.
5 Like birds hovering overhead,
the Lord Almighty will shield Jerusalem;
he will shield it and deliver it,
he will ‘pass over’ it and will rescue it.”
6 Return, you Israelites, to the One you have so greatly revolted against. 7 For in that day every one of you will reject the idols of silver and gold your sinful hands have made.
8 “Assyria will fall by no human sword;
a sword, not of mortals, will devour them.
They will flee before the sword
and their young men will be put to forced labor.
9 Their stronghold will fall because of terror;
at the sight of the battle standard their commanders will panic,”
declares the Lord,
whose fire is in Zion,
whose furnace is in Jerusalem.