Problem or No

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. ~ 1 Samuel 17:47

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. ~ 1 Samuel 17:47

Absolute sovereignty poses a problem for not a few modern minds. It is supposed that if God is ultimately in control, it would not really matter what we did. They object, more or less, that this removes all motivation man would have in doing right or what God commands to be done.

I don’t find the faithful in the Bible to suffer from such a crisis of doubt. If you were to pose this problem to David, I imagine he would respond with thoroughly furrowed brow, “That maketh no sense.” Allow me to explain.

The Philistines sought opportunity against Israel after they had anointed David king. They spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim to fight. David went down to the hold and “inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up to the Philistines? Wilt thou deliver them into mine hand?” (2 Samuel 5:19). David did not march to battle immediately. He sought direction from the Lord.

God responded by giving David a command and a promise. “And the LORD said unto David, Go up: for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into thine hand” (2 Samuel 5:19). David had a direction to go and a sure word of victory. What did he do?

    And David came to Baal-perazim, and David smote them there, and said, The LORD hath broken forth upon mine enemies before me, as the breach of waters. Therefore he called the name of that place Baal-perazim. And there they left their images, and David and his men burned them.” ~ 2 Samuel 5:20-21

David went and fought and won the victory. He also gave the glory to God for it.

What do we learn from this?

  1. The surety of victory beforehand did not cause David to think he had no responsibility. He did not think he didn’t have to go because God had already promised the victory. The opposite was the case. David went forth with zeal and energy to do the Lord’s bidding. The sovereignty of God empowered David.
  2. The battle being won by the Lord did not mean they didn’t have to really fight. They had to plan, march, and fight with all the energy, skill, and wisdom they had.

What does this mean for us today? For one thing, if Christ says we are to go “into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15) and “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me” (John 6:37), we should go and preach with all our energy. And when the victory come, we should praise Him for it.

About Jeff Short