by Heather Bock
Troubling presidential elections at hand, repeated violence in public places, abnormal test results at routine physicals…this world has much we could fear. I often hear our time is the worst of all, and maybe it is, but as I study history with my kids, I find it rife with scary times marked by wars, bubonic plague, persecution, genocide, and much more. The question is, how are we going to respond?
In 1 Samuel 13, the men of Israel felt they had good reason to fear. Jonathan, Saul’s son, destroyed a military post belonging to the Philistines, which stirred up quite a hornet’s nest of no less than “30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen,” or at least it seemed so to them, along with all the regular soldiers. It appeared to Israel that the number of soldiers was “like the sand which is on the seashore in abundance” (I Sam. 13:5). In contrast, Saul had only 3,000 men, who didn’t even have swords or spears because the Israelites didn’t have any blacksmiths like the Philistines did.
In the face of this fear, how did Israel respond? They ran hard and went underground, some of them literally, in caves, cellars, and pits. Others hid in thickets and cliffs. Some even went over to the enemy’s side in hopes that they would spare their lives. These men’s hearts were shaking as if they were in an earthquake.
How did Saul respond? He was far from the battle, where he was supposed to be waiting for God’s prophet Samuel to offer a sacrifice for him and give him a word from the Lord. He did fearfully wait the seven long days he had been commanded to wait. However, when Samuel was a little later than Saul expected, he wouldn’t wait any more. He couldn’t stop thinking about his men scattering (from 3,000 to 600) and the Philistines approaching, and he wanted to know God’s answer NOW. So in disobedience, minutes before Samuel arrived, he made a sacrifice, hoping he could manipulate God into giving him an answer sooner. But God won’t be manipulated or hurried; He knew this sacrifice was not made with a pure heart.
Now how did Jonathan respond? He took one young brave armor-bearer and slipped out of camp with a fear of God in his heart, heading the only direction nobody on either side had considered: the cliffs. He followed God’s leading and waited for His answer; if the Philistines saw him and called him up the cliffs, he would know God would give him the victory. If not, he would go back to his own people. God saw his trusting heart, fearing Him instead of the enemy, and He did indeed give him a great victory with a real earthquake on the side, so much so that the Philistines ran away themselves. The men of Israel finally gained heart as a result, coming out of hiding and attacking their enemy.
When it feels like the worst is coming down on our heads, like we will soon be attacked by 30,000 chariots, what should our response be? We must remember God the mighty is with us. We must choose to say alongside of David, Jonathan’s kindred spirit, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?” (Ps. 27:1). Will we be shaken by any fear? Will we run away or rush ahead with our own plans? No, we can say, “My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (Ps. 62:5-8). I will choose to say, my heart will not be moved.
I notified the winner of the drawing for Dwelling Places by Lucinda Secrest McDowell, but I haven’t heard back from the winner yet. If I don’t hear back by Saturday, I will be doing another drawing, so if you entered before, you still may have a chance to win! Check your email inbox or spam folder to make sure you weren’t the one who won in the first place.
I’m still in the middle of the drawing for one copy of Give Your Child the World, which I reviewed last Saturday. If you want to enter, you still can: If you haven’t yet subscribed to my blog by email, you can win one entry by clicking the button “follow” in the above right corner and typing in your email address. Don’t forget to check your spam folder for a confirmation email–it might get sent there by mistake. If you’ve already subscribed, or if you just want more entries, you can earn entries by sharing this book review post via social media. Remember, though, you have to be subscribed for your shares to count as entries. Each share to a different social media venue earns you one entry (up to three). Be sure to let me know in a comment if you’ve shared in a place where I won’t be notified and don’t forget to let me know your name so I can announce the name of the winner. I will announce the winner this coming Saturday when I post a guest post by a good friend of mine, so look for it! Thank you!