Tag Archives: enemy

Judges 15

It’s not my fault

“Blame him, not me! I had no choice. They deserved it. Paybacks are fair game. Because!”

Do these words sound familiar?

They sure do to me… I’ve said them, many times. But as I look at them now, on the other side of whatever incident or event that prompted them, they somehow feel like sand in my throat. They are all rooted in self. I didn’t get something. Something didn’t happen in the way I expected. I got angry…

Samson said, “This time I cannot be blamed for everything I am going to do to you Philistines.” – Judges 15:3

Really Samson, you cannot be blamed? Um, you abandoned your “wife” on your wedding night! And you didn’t return for weeks, perhaps months. Then you have the gall to say that you cannot be blamed because her father later gave her in marriage to a man who would actually take his wife with him – like he was supposed to do?

What a pathetic excuse for an irrational temper, prone to fits of rage, and fueled by the supernatural power of God.

“Because you did this,” Samson vowed, “I will take my revenge on you, and I won’t stop until I’m satisfied!” – Judges 15:7

Notice that it is all about him. The “I” word is rather prominent in both “outrage” verses. Now, I do know that Samson accomplished God’s work in putting some fear into the Philistines. But imagine how much more could have been done if he had also lived a holy life, a life which sought after the heart of God instead of the fleshly wants of Samson? He was designed to lead, not merely destroy.

How much more could I accomplish for God if I lived a holy life, a life which sought after the heart of God instead of the fleshly wants of Jan? How different would life be if I didn’t cast blame, or if I looked a bit harder and prayed for alternatives rather than having knee-jerk reactions? What if I didn’t payback evil with evil? What if I truly sought God for any and all actions which I was unsure about?

I suspect that there would not be quite as much sand scratching my uvula.

Father, blame me. I had a choice. They deserve your mercy and mine. Paybacks are the devil’s tool. Because your son died so that I would live life as he did, for others, not for myself. Please forgive me for failing so often. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

It is my fault. That’s why Jesus came, to take it away. Jan

Judges 5

Come back and fight like a man

Until now, I’d never noticed the sequence of what occurred in the battle between the forces  of Barak and Sisera.  An interesting happened on the way to the battle, the enemy ran away! And they did it before Barak’s soldiers engaged them.

Then Deborah said to Barak, “Get ready! Today the LORD  will give you victory over Sisera, for the LORD is marching ahead of you.” So Barak led his ten thousand warriors down the slopes of Mount Tabor into battle. When Barak attacked, the LORD threw Sisera and all his charioteers and warriors into a panic. Then Sisera leaped down from his chariot and escaped on foot. Barak chased the enemy and their chariots all the way to Harosheth-haggoyim, killing all of Sisera’s warriors. Not a single one was left alive. – Judges 4:14-16

Notice that the Lord marched out ahead of Barak, and that Sisera’s forces were in a panic because of the Lord, not Barak. Why did they panic?

I found it interesting that God made sure to mention that Sisera’s focres had nine hundred iron chariots.

Sisera called together all his chariots, nine hundred iron chariots, and all the people who were with him, from Harosheth-hagoyim to the river Kishon. – Judges 4:13

He actually mentioned them earlier in the chapter too, and then he also ensured that Sisera’s leap from his chariot was recorded.

An iron chariot was the equivalent of our modern day tank. Infantry is no match for one. And all of Israel had was infantry. So I ask you, why would you jump out of your battle-wagon? Why would you abandon your armor? Why leave the tank behind?

I think the following section of the song of Deborah and Barak explains it.

LORD, when You went out from Seir, when You marched from the field of Edom, the earth quaked, the heavens also dripped, even the clouds dripped water. The mountains quaked at the presence of the LORD, this Sinai, at the presence of the LORD, the God of Israel… The stars fought from heaven, from their courses they fought against Sisera. – Judges 5:4-5, 20

Hmm, heavens dripping. Could that be rain? The earth quaked, the mountains quaked. Sounds like thunder. The stars fought from heaven. Sounds like lightning. I don’t have definitive proof, and I’ll have to wait to see it on God’s Blue-Ray screen, but I suspect that Sisera’s iron chariots become lightning-rods. God was having himself a Canaanite barbecue.

Sisera, seeing his forces being roasted as they stood in their Smokey Joe’s, jumped out of the spit as fast as he could and started running for his life – as did the rest of his troops. And Israel began the mop-up operation.

Father, thank you that if we trust you, often times you will battle for us. Of course there are times that you expect us to engage as the Israelites had to. But you certainly know how to put our opposition to flight. Thank you for allowing me the honor of being on your side. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I smell rain… Jan

Judges 3

Rescue Them

I have a pretty good overview of the Old Testament history of the Hebrews. Frankly if I was God I would have abandoned them and started over with a people a bit more receptive to obeying his commands. He certainly had plenty of nations to choose from. But no, he remained faithful even if they didn’t. However, he did discipline them.

Since they wanted to live for themselves, God withdrew his protection and allowed natural consequences to take effect. Soon they were conquered by their enemies and enslaved.

No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. – Hebrews 12:11

Once they experienced the discipline, the consequences of their actions, they cried out for relief. Funny how we always seem to remember God once we are in trouble, but never when we are getting into it.

But when Israel cried out to the LORD for help, the LORD raised up a man to rescue them… – Judges 3:9

And again.

But when Israel cried out to the LORD for help, the LORD raised up a man to rescue them… – Judges 3:15

And again.

After Ehud, Shamgar son of Anath rescued Israel… – Judges 3:31

And the same sad story continues through the entire book. They do evil. God lets them have their way. They are overcome, they are enslaved. They cry for help. God sends rescue.

Isn’t that our story? It is my story.

If I was God, I would have abandoned me long ago and left me to rot. But he didn’t and he doesn’t.

He considers me infinitely valuable.

How do I know that? His Son Jesus created infinity and God allowed him to die to pay the penalty for all of my sins: past, present and future. He rescued me.

Heavenly Father, please continue to create in me the desire to be holy. I want to love the things you love, hate the things you hate. Help me to see everyone through your eyes. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I’m Rescued

Judges 2

Resistance

What does it mean to resist?

re-sist
–verb (used with object)
1. to withstand, strive against, or oppose: to resist infection; to resist temptation.
2. to withstand the action or effect of: to resist spoilage.
3. to refrain or abstain from, esp. with difficulty or reluctance: They couldn’t resist the chocolates.

I really like the third one where it adds, with difficulty or reluctance.

If you are one of the 1% of men who have no struggle with visual purity, or are female, go ahead and stop reading. You just don’t understand. But, if I am speaking to you, those of us who have difficulty or reluctance, then read on.

As I was reading in the second chapter of Judges I encountered something I’d seen many times in scripture, but never investigated before. It was the relation of Baal and Ashtoreth. Both of these pagan deities are well documented. And both of them, among other functions, are fertility symbols. One reference wrote of “the orgiastic nature of Baal worship.” Part of the worship of Ashtoreth involved “Ashtoreth Poles”. You don’t need too much imagination to conjure up a mental image of their probable appearance. “Archeological excavations in Canaanite locations have uncovered temples with chambers where sexual activity took place. Also, many iconographic representations of the fertility goddess, Asthoreth, with exaggerated sexual features have been discovered.” So, suffice it to say, worship of these gods was at least partially sexual in nature.

As I read this today I noticed some words that connected some interesting dots for me.

They abandoned the LORD to serve Baal and the images of Ashtoreth. – Judges 2:13

Men are such visual creatures, we see something, we want it. We are hard-wired for visual stimuli. So, the men abandoned the Lord to serve Baal and the images of Ashtoreth.

Images!

How many of us have abandoned our principles, our morals, our purity, because of an image, a picture – be it moving or still? Thank you very little Mr. Hefner.

When we do, what happens?

This made the LORD burn with anger against Israel, so he handed them over to marauders who stole their possessions. He sold them to their enemies all around, and they were no longer able to resist them. – Judges 2:14

Have you had your purity stolen? How about your finances, job, or even family? Have they been given over to the marauders because you were no longer able to resist?

re-sist
3. to refrain or abstain from, esp. with difficulty or reluctance:
They couldn’t resist the images.

What have we allowed the marauders to steal because of reluctance?

Every time Israel went out to battle, the LORD fought against them, bringing them defeat, just as he promised. And the people were very distressed. – Judges 2:15

Distressed yet?

Every time (insert your name here) went out to battle, the LORD fought against him…

Don’t be misled. Remember that you can’t ignore God and get away with it. You will always reap what you sow! Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful desires will harvest the consequences of decay and death. – Galatians 6:7-8a

OK, I get it, I’ll buck up. I’ll resist. I’ll never let the Ashtoreth images into my life again.

Fool.

You can’t do it alone. As the old expression states. “The man who has himself for a lawyer has a fool for a client.”

Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

In this battle there are but two courses of action. The first is to be open and honest with at least one other man who can help you if you should start to stumble. The other is RUN.

Run from anything that stimulates youthful lust. – 2 Timothy 2:22a

There is another part to the verses about reaping and sowing.

But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time. – Galatians 6:8b-9

One name for the Holy Spirit is Counselor. That word translates as Lawyer. If the Holy Spirit is your lawyer, you are definitely not a fool. He will never lose in court against the devil.

If we are truly living in a way where we desire to please the Holy Spirit, it is he who gives us everlasting life! We are told not to become discouraged, not to give up the fight. If we resist spoilage of our purity, we will reap a harvest of blessing. It isn’t easy. We refrain, we abstain with difficulty. But it is worth the harvest.

Lord, this battle is one where our enemy knows our weaknesses much better than we ever could. Please give me the desire and ability to surround myself with men who will both hold me up, and hold me accountable – as they have been doing. Give me fleet feet. Please bless the men in my life and give them the same. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who brings the harvest. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Resistance is not futile!

Job 36

Life Interrupted

When we think of a life being cut short we think of an untimely death, or perhaps some debilitating injury or disease. But I noticed a different form of life interruption today.

In the book of Job, Elihu says the following about those who do try to follow after God, those who are not engaged in open willful rebellion.

If troubles come upon them and they are enslaved and afflicted, he takes the trouble to show them the reason. He shows them their sins, for they have behaved proudly. He gets their attention and says they must turn away from evil. – Job 36:8-10

How does God show them the reason? How does he show them their sins? How does he get their attention?

But by means of their suffering, he rescues those who suffer. For he gets their attention through adversity… Be on guard! Turn back from evil, for it was to prevent you from getting into a life of evil that God sent this suffering. – Job 36:15,21

I’ve always known that God allows suffering in our lives so that we change, but I’ve never seen it spelled out so clearly before.

God allows, even sends, suffering to interrupt our lives to effect change. Having what could potentially be a life of sin interrupted by God is blessing, not punishment.

Are you suffering?

Examine your life. Is God trying to get your attention? If so, please listen – and change.

Then take Elihu’s advice, which is pretty good in this instance.

Instead, glorify his mighty works, singing songs of praise. – Job 36:24

This echoes a verse from the New Testament.

Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Other translations say to be thankful “in all things”. Note that we are not asked to be thankful for all things, but in them. Praise to the one who is truly worthy changes our perspective and has the ability to restart an interrupted life – in the right direction.

Father, may I be quick to examine the circumstances of adversity, of suffering and trouble, to determine if they are a gift from you, or an attack from our enemy. If it is the former, please give me the grace to change – quickly. If the latter, then please give me the grace to stand up under it and come out on the other side still praising you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Restart your life. Jan

2 Samuel 18

The Trees Joined In

In the Lord of the Rings movie Trilogy there is scene at the end of the Battle at Helms Deep where the trees of the forest join in the battle and destroy the fleeing Orc army.

Similarly, Absalom’s forces faced off against David’s in a great forest. Something quite unusual happened during the ensuing battle.

Then the people went out into the field against Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. The people of Israel were defeated there before the servants of David, and the slaughter there that day was great, 20,000 men. For the battle there was spread over the whole countryside, and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured. – 2 Samuel 18:6-8

The forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured?

Sounds like something supernatural happened there that day. Perhaps is looked like the scene from The Lord of the Rings. Whatever it was, God saw to it that his will was acomplished and his man was restored to the throne.

Father, thank you for using whatever means is necessary to grant us victory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Be nice to the trees… Jan

 

2 Samuel 16

Who am I…?

King David, on the run from his son Absalom, encounters a relative of the late King Saul named Shimei. This guy starts hurling insults and curses against David and his people.

As David and his party passed Bahurim, a man came out of the village cursing them. It was Shimei son of Gera, a member of Saul’s family. He threw stones at the king and the king’s officers and all the mighty warriors who surrounded them. “Get out of here, you murderer, you scoundrel!” he shouted at David. “The LORD is paying you back for murdering Saul and his family. You stole his throne, and now the LORD has given it to your son Absalom. At last you will taste some of your own medicine, you murderer!” – 2 Samuel 16:5-8

However, David does something very unusual in response. He keeps his men from harming Shimei and then says the following.

“No!” the king said. “What am I going to do with you sons of Zeruiah! If the LORD has told him to curse me, who am I to stop him?” Then David said to Abishai and the other officers, My own son is trying to kill me. Shouldn’t this relative of Saul have even more reason to do so? Leave him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him to do it. And perhaps the LORD will see that I am being wronged and will bless me because of these curses.” – 2 Samuel 16:10-12

Perhaps this is where Solomon first heard the following words of wisdom that he wrote down.

Do not rejoice when your enemies fall into trouble. Don’t be happy when they stumble.  For the LORD will be displeased with you and will turn his anger away from them. – Proverbs 24:17-18

Paul further expounded on that concept and raised the bar even further.

See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to everyone else. – 1 Thesalonians 5:15

However, Jesus probably put it best.

“You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!  In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust, too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” – Matthew 5:43-48

Eventually Shimei did pay for his crimes. But it was he himself that brought that calamity on his head. David did not do it. God judged him.

Father, please help me to remember that you are the judge. I need to leave things in your hands more often than not. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I’m not God. Jan

2 Samuel 5

The Enemy of My Enemy…

There is a very old expression that states, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” It is attributed to the Arabians, the Chinese, and several other ancient people groups. It is even found in the bible. 

I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will oppose those who oppose you. – Exodus 23:22b 

I see this principle being put into reality between King David and King Hiram. 

Then King Hiram of Tyre sent messengers to David, along with carpenters and stonemasons to build him a palace. Hiram also sent many cedar logs for lumber. – 2 Samuel 5:11 

It was quickly evident to King Hiram that King David had a well trained and large active fighting force. From Judah alone he was able to muster a force of nearly 400,000. Once combined with the forces of the rest of the nation he had about 1.3 million fighting men. 

Since they shared a common border, and since both King Hiram and King David both had a common enemy – the Phillistines – Hiram wisely formed an alliance. 

A man that has friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24

It is good to have friends. 

Father, please help me to be a good friend to those who count themselves as my friend. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Got any common enemies? Jan

2 Samuel 2

Relatives

My mother has a sister-in-law who is also her aunt. No, she isn’t from the hills of West Virginia. 

Many years ago, my father’s oldest sister met a man on a train while on their way to a Christian youth camp. Eventually they married. Quite some time following that, my father married that man’s niece. Her uncle instantly also became her brother-in-law. 

Today while reading about David’s return to Israel I noticed a familial connection I’d never seen before. 

Joab, Abishai, and Asahel, the three sons of Zeruiah, were among David’s forces that day. Asahel could run like a deer, and he began chasing Abner. He was relentless and single-minded in his pursuit. – 2 Samuel 2:18-19 

Like most people, I tend to just trip past the weird names in the Bible. However, for some reason I kept coming back to this section of scripture. In doing so I discovered that Zeruiah is a female, the verse is listing their mother – something rarely done in the Bible. The reason for her inclusion is because Zeruiah is David’s sister! The three men mentioned are David’s nephews. David is their uncle. 

But Asahel would not give up, so Abner thrust the butt end of his spear through Asahel’s stomach, and the spear came out through his back. He stumbled to the ground and died there. And everyone who came by that spot stopped and stood still when they saw Asahel lying there. – 2 Samuel 2:23 

I find that later Abishai and Joab eventually murder Abner in revenge. However, David, who also suffered this very personal tragedy at the hands of Abner responded very differently. 

Quite some time had passed and a meeting was called where Abner pledged allegiance to David, turning the rest of the kingdom over to him. Then Abner left. Joab discovered this and was furious. 

Joab then left David and sent messengers to catch up with Abner. They found him at the pool of Sirah and brought him back with them.

But David knew nothing about it.

When Abner arrived at Hebron, Joab took him aside at the gateway as if to speak with him privately. But then he drew his dagger and killed Abner in revenge for killing his brother Asahel.

When David heard about it, he declared, “I vow by the LORD that I and my people are innocent of this crime against Abner. Joab and his family are the guilty ones. May his family in every generation be cursed with a man who has open sores or leprosy or who walks on crutches or who dies by the sword or who begs for food!”

So Joab and his brother Abishai killed Abner because Abner had killed their brother Asahel at the battle of Gibeon.

Then David said to Joab and all those who were with him, “Tear your clothes and put on sackcloth. Go into deep mourning for Abner.” And King David himself walked behind the procession to the grave. They buried Abner in Hebron, and the king and all the people wept at his graveside. – 2 Samuel 3:26-32 

Where does vengeance end? David had it right. The Lord is the one who will rightly judge and repay. He was leaving justice in the hands of the supreme judge of all. 

Lord, may I leave in your hands those things that are not mine to handle. Please give me the wisdom to know what that is. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

We are all one family – God’s.
Jan