While reading Psalms 33:16-17 I was immediately reminded of the story about a bully and his friends.
A grade school bully was demanding another boy’s lunch money as they crossed paths on their way to school. The boy asked the bully, “who is going to make me give you my money?” The bully responded, “me and my five friends, one, two, three, four, five” as he curled each finger in sequence to make a fist. The boy gave the bully his money and thought disappointedly about no lunch that day.
The bully in the story was relying on intimidation and his strength to win the battle for the lunch money. The other boy needed someone to save him, or in this case, to fight his battle for him. He was not strong enough to do it on his own.
It prompted me to ask myself, am I strong enough on my own to fight off anyone and anything bad that comes my way? Can I effectively fight bullies in my little corner of the world? In my youth, I felt confident to do it. I felt 6 feet tall and bulletproof. Unstoppable. My wife still thinks I am. At least I want to believe she does. But am I?
I asked myself, what are my battles and where do I get the strength to fight them? Where is my strength? Is it with friends, finances, possessions, physical strength, words, intelligence, cunningness, stature, or seniority?
Battles Fought By God
If you like to read about historical battles, the Old Testament is rife with them. However, these battles are beyond the realm of expected outcomes. Only God’s hand could make them come true.
Goliath was 9 feet tall and boldly mocked the entire Israeli army of the day. David was only a child, relative to Goliath, yet he stood up against Goliath and with one small rock put him down and ran off the Philistine army. One small rock. That was an improbability, yet it happened.
Joshua didn’t fire a shot or build a siege ramp, yet by the mere blowing of a horn routed the city of Jericho`, one of the strongest walled cities in the Promised Land. No man was left standing nor a single stone rested atop another. This was beyond improbable and steps into the realm of the impossible.
Gideon battled the Midianites whose armies, according to Judges 8:10 were 135,000. He started with 22,000 men but God pared them down to 300. At Gideon’s signal, the men broke water pots that were covering lit torches, blew trumpets, and cried, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” Then the Lord confused the Midianites so much that they actually killed each other and those remaining alive fled.” That’s just crazy talk suggesting that 300 men could wage a war and decisively win against 135,000 men.
Israel, in the future, as described in Revelation 16: 16-21 and Ezekiel 38-39, will find themselves surrounded by nations of the world who have banded together to destroy Israel. There is no human way that Israel can stand, much prevail, against the nations of the world at one time. Just as it looks like Jerusalem will be destroyed, God steps in and tips the balance of force with flashes of lightning, peals of thunder, the greatest earthquake that has ever been seen, and finished it off with 75-100 pound hailstones. Jerusalem and Israel are saved. The offending nations are thoroughly destroyed. All while Israel just watches and waits.
Notice the common thread in these battles? These decisive wins are an impossibility from a human perspective. Sure, David slung a rock, Joshua blew some trumpets, Gideon broke a water pot or two and Israel could only stand by and prepare to die. No one devised a battle plan, trained their troops, or swung a sword, yet in every case, the enemy was completely routed. Since not by man, then who else but God Himself?
Am I making something out of a few battle stories? I think not. There are many verses in the Bible indicating that God fighting our battles is a scriptural principle.
God Fights Other Battles
The first place to look is in the Old Testament.
Joshua 1:9 says “God has commanded me. I am strong and very courageous in Christ; I am not afraid, nor dismayed, for the LORD my God is with me wherever I go.”
In Deuteronomy 20:4 Moses says “For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’
Isaiah 41:10 says “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
The second place we look is in Psalms where David says…
Psalm 118:6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
Psalm 118:14 The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
And finally, in the New Testament, Paul says to Christians living in Ephesus and Philippi…
Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
These are just a few verses to illustrate what the Bible says about God being our strength. There are many more Biblical references speaking specifically about God being our strength. And never once does it suggest we are to do our own fighting, or that God will not fight for us. It’s always God fighting for us.
There are preconditions to God fighting our battles, however. Jeremiah passes along preconditions from God…
Jeremiah 9:23 This is what the Lord says: “Let no wise man boast of his wisdom, nor let the mighty man boast of his might, nor a rich man boast of his riches;
Jeremiah 17:5 Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.
Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.”
Our Five Friends
Remember the bully’s five friends; one, two, three, four, and five? Here are five of our friends if we want God to fight our battles for us.
1 Keep from evil – In Deuteronomy 23:9 God told His people that if He was to fight for them they had to be holy by saying “When you go out as an army against your enemies, you shall keep yourself from every evil thing.”
Staying from evil is being pure and set aside for God. The word for that is holy. We are to be holy, pure, and set aside for God. For God to fight for us we, therefore, need to strive to live a holy life, dedicated to God.
2 Look forward – As Israel was leaving Egypt, and looking toward the Promised Land, they took their eyes off the goal and God by looking back at the pursuing Egyptian army. That backward view caused them to doubt their future of living free. Similarly, Lot’s wife looked back as she ran from the destruction of Sodom and was turned into a pillar of salt. We must not look back at life’s past troubles, but rather look forward if God is going to fight for us.
3 Trust – We don’t have to look too far to see trust is another all too important requirement for God to fight our battles. In 2 Thessalonians 3:3 Paul says, “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”
Or we can skip back to the Old Testament and read Numbers 23:19 which says, “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
For God to fight our battles we need to trust that God will indeed do it. Unfortunately, this may not happen when and how we think it should. That’s where a double dose of trust may be required to be able to say with confidence that God is in control, I trust God’s battle tactics, no matter the outcome.
4 Pray – Psalms is a book of David’s prayers. Sometimes he was weeping to God about his enemies. Sometimes he was repenting for his sin. Other times he was asking for direction. In Psalm 46:1 David prays to God saying “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.”
It was this prayer that inspired Martin Luther to write the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” David prayed this prayer 14 times in the Psalms. 14 times. Prayer must have been important to David, by his example it should be important to us. Prayer is a sure requisite for God to fight our battles.
5 Untangled – Deuteronomy 20:5-8 records that a recently married man did not go to war for one year. This was because he was primarily concerned with his new wife, setting up a household, and getting established, along with just enjoying marriage. He was too busy with these affairs of life to be effective in warfare. This is why Paul similarly reminds Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:4 that, “No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life.”
To be in the world, but not of the world is a concept that both Jesus spoke about in John 15:19 and John 17:14-16 as well as the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:2. It refers to us living in this world as long as we draw breath but not get all entangled in it. As Paul clearly states in Philippians 3:20-21“For our citizenship is in heaven, not in this world.” We are just passing through to our eternal home in heaven.
God will fight our battles! Woo hoo!!
God will do His part of that there is no doubt.
We have to do our part by being holy, looking forward not backward, being in prayer, not being entangled in this world, and trusting God. Those are our 5 friends that will allow God to fight our battles.
I will leave you with one last thought.
Romans 8:31 “…If God is for us, who is against us?