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Someone once said, “…choose your battles wisely”.
Someone else said, “…good fighters know when to fight and when to walk away”
It dawned on me recently (more of a reminder, than a revelation) that, as believers, we are not exempt from battles. With this reminder came the assurance that just as David did in Psalm 144: 1, we have the right to say “Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.”
Speaking of David, ‘a man after God’s own heart’…but also a man of war, if there was one character in the Bible to refer to for battle strategies, it would certainly be him. In fact, you may recall that when David wanted to build a temple for God, God’s response was that David could not build the temple, because he had shed much blood and fought many wars.
David’s approach to warfare is an interesting one. Whenever there was a situation with an enemy, whenever there was a call to war, David first sought God’s clearance before addressing his enemy or entering into battle. Not only did God approve or deny permission to engage, He also provided the details on how exactly to engage.
In 1 Samuel 23, David points out to God that the Philistines (who were usually the ones causing the issues) were on the attack. “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” and the Lord says “Go and attack”. Despite the hesitancy of his army, David attacks and is victorious in the battle. Throughout the books of first and second Samuel, this pattern is maintained, and we see David consulting with God before he enters a battle.
To prove that God’s commitment to directing us in matters of warfare is not limited to David, we can look at a few other characters in the Bible. King Jehoshaphat, upon hearing of impending doom, calls for a solemn assembly to enquire of the heart of God. In 2 Chronicles 20, we see the prophet Jahaziel rising up in the assembly to declare, “King Jehoshaphat, listen! All you who live in Judah and Jerusalem, listen! The Lord says to you, ‘Do not be afraid. Do not lose hope because of this huge army. The battle is not yours. It is God’s. 16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take your positions. Stand firm. You will see how the Lord will save you. Judah and Jerusalem, do not be afraid. Do not lose hope. Go out and face them tomorrow. The Lord will be with you.” Suffice to say, this was a battle won, just as the Lord had said.
On the contrary, not all battles fought by God’s people in the Bible, ended victoriously. In first Samuel 4 we see the account of the Philistines slaying 30,000 of the army of the Israelites, because the Israelites had failed to consult God before engaging in the battle.
The battles we face today may not be with swords in the fields as in the days of the Bible, but the principles for victorious warfare still apply. When we seek God for His direction, He lets us know which battles we are to fight and which we are to leave alone. For the battles God ordains us to fight or grants us permission to fight, He lets us know how to engage the fight; before, during and after.
When we enter battles not intended for us and without God’s blessing, we are open prey to the enemy and he will certainly put us to shame. The heart of God is that we live victorious lives in Him. His desire is that we win in life’s battles; but we can only win if we are submitted and obedient to His leading.
What battles are you fighting? Have you been winning or losing? Perhaps it’s time to rethink your battle strategy?
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