“‘And carry these ten cheeses unto the captain of their thousand, and look how thy brethren fare, and take their pledge.’” (1 Samuel 17:18, KJV).
How do thee, my brethren, fare this day? Fare thee well, or fare thee less? However thee fare, thou Father is aware, and his love for thee exceeds thy need. So thus, I invite thee to come and find thy Master’s feet and receive thy portion of his love unto thee.
Please read today’s scripture focus, 1 Samuel 17:14-32, in whatever version thee desireth!
I love the King James rendering of 1 Samuel 17:18. Sometimes the King’s English speaks with a rich eloquence that puts my mind to thinking and my heart to dreaming. David’s story is worthy of a dream or two. It certainly is worth our pondering, for it has much to teach us about the art of war. About the winning and losing of battles. About the gains and losses of confrontation.
For in every fight, something stands to be gained and something stands to be lost. Weighing the difference between the two is of paramount importance when kingdom business is at hand. Not every battle is ours to embrace, but every battle should be weighed in accordance with God’s divine perspective (part one). The enemy understands our propensity for a good fight. He’s perfected the lure and baited his hook with just enough intrigue and drama to engage our thoughts (part two). And if not checked, our thoughts can sometimes lead us into a war that we were never meant to fight.
So how do we know the difference? How do we know when the battle belongs to us and is worthy of our sacred participation? We start by doing just exactly what boy David did.
We listen to our Father.
“Now Jesse said to his son David, ‘Take this … for your brothers. Take along these … to the commanders of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.’” (1 Samuel 17:17-19).
David’s earthly father, Jesse, sent David to battle; not to fight but to check on the welfare of his brothers…to see how thy brethren were faring. They were faring poorly. Floundering in their fear, they took to their hiding, and when David was unable to secure the “assurance” that his father was looking for, David altered his plan. No longer would this be a mission of provision, but rather it would become a mission of kingdom priority…a father’s priority.
Assurance. The Hebrew transliterated word rubbah meaning “…a tangible sign of a current or soon-expected reality. It was used specifically in reference to an assurance of well-being brought from the battlefield.”[i]
The only tangible sign of a soon-expected reality was a stance of fear and dismay. And where there is fear…where there is dismay…the soon-expected reality is sure defeat. Thus David, rather than returning home without any pledge or assurance for his father, pushed the matter to a head. He postured himself for participation in the battle because David knew that…
Sometimes, one is called to battle because the welfare of the brethren is at stake.
David’s brethren? The Israelites. God’s flock. The sheep of his sacred pasture. The apple of his eye. They were the children of Promise, barely living within the pasturelands of Promise. Milk and honey were yesterday’s taste. Today’s palate was limited to a faithless trembling that swallowed difficult and soured the stomach.
The hearts of a nation laid themselves bare for the taking, and David was quick to recognize their nakedness.
“David asked the men standing near him, ‘What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?’ … ‘Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.’” (1 Samuel 17:26, 32).
David entered the arena as a shepherd boy, the son of Jesse. But in one transforming moment, David refined his identity. He would retain his role as shepherd, but this time, as the son of his heavenly Father. Not only were the brethren not faring well, but the identity of his Father’s people stood to know fracture and disgrace at the hands of the enemy. David postured himself for participation in the battle because David knew that…
Sometimes, one is called to battle because the honor of a Father is at stake.
There you have it. Two good reasons to enter a battle with the enemy.
A brethren’s welfare. A heavenly Father’s honor.
There are other worthy reasons to find our fight, but these two offer us some perspective in the matter. David had no way of knowing what lie ahead for him as he loaded his father’s grain and bread and cheeses into his pack. He only knew that he had to go for the sake of his father’s assurance…for a tangible sign of a soon-expected reality. A reality that would eventually shout victory because his heavenly Father’s assurance went with him.
It, too, goes with us this day. You need to know this, for many of you are facing a battle of untold proportions. You are weighing the matter out upon the soil of your faith…hoping for a win but, perhaps, expecting a loss. You may be fighting for the welfare of the brethren…for your brothers and sisters. For your sons and daughters. For your family and for your church. You may be fighting for the honor of your Father. For his name. For his renown. For his truth and for his Word.
It is good to understand what leads us into battle, and as a woman who loves her brethren and who loves her God, I will always find my fight on behalf of them both. And so I ask you again…
How do thee, my brethren, fare this day? Fare thee well or fare thee less, you have a friend in me. You fight not alone. You fight with an ally who is privileged to enter the battle alongside you. Together, we will march in victory with our Father at the lead until he ushers us from this battlefield into our forever field. A spacious place of milk and honey. An easy swallow for eternity and well beyond. And so I pray…
“Lead on O king Eternal, The day of march has come;
Henceforth in fields of conquest, Thy tents shall be our home.
Thro’ days of preparation, Thy grace has made us strong,
And now O King Eternal, We lift our battle song.
Lead on O king Eternal, Till sin’s fierce war shall cease,
And holiness shall whisper, the sweet Amen of peace.
For not with swords loud clashing, Nor roll of stirring drums,
With deeds of love and mercy, The heav’nly kingdom comes.
Lead on O King eternal, We follow not with fears,
For gladness breaks like morning, Where’er Thy face appears.
Thy cross is lifted o’er us, We journey in its light;
The crown awaits the conquest: Lead on, O God of might.”[ii]
Please feel free to leave a comment. At the end of our study, I will enter all comments into a drawing for a give-away. If you have a special prayer request, please indicate within your comment or via my e-mail on the side-bar. You give me much joy, my blogging friends. God be close to you this weekend.
[i]Baker & Carpenter, “rubbah,” The Complete Word Study Dictionary Old Testament (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2003), 6156.
[ii] Ernest Shurtleff, “Lead On, O King Eternal,” Then Sings My Soul Book 2 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2004), 202-203.
(allrightsreserved, elaineolsen – 2008)