1 Chronicles 14:13-15 And the Philistines yet again made a raid in the valley.And when David again inquired of God, God said to him, “You shall not go up after them; go around and come against them opposite the balsam trees. And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then go out to battle, for God has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines.”
David had just become king after fleeing Saul for over a decade. He went from living in caves and constantly on the run to living in a palace in Jerusalem, a city he had taken after generations of being a stronghold in the midst of Israelite territory held by the Jebusites. In the episode above, we can see the source of his personal strength, his sustenance and success as a leader. He “inquired of God.” It would have been normal for David to assume a direct line of attack on the enemy Philistines; that was the usual strategy. But this time, the instruction was different – “go around and come against them opposite the balsam trees.” The Philistines may have been very prepared to repel a frontal attack; we aren’t told. But I would suggest it was at least as important for David son of Jesse to experience what God had planned that day. He was to wait until he heard the movement of the host of heaven, the armies of God, marching in the tops of the balsam trees. Balsam is a conifer, an evergreen, which would make good cover but also a tree which would not make much noise even when blown by the wind. So the sound of marching would be not confused with any other sound and it would be a the signal for David to fight, not because of lack of preparedness by the enemy but because the sound would be that of a much more powerful army that was going “out before” the army of Israel “to strike down the army of the Philistines.” This is perhaps the most vivid examples of warfare as God fights it. The spiritual army trumps any physical one, and the encouragement this gave David would define him. All because he inquired of God.
Where is my battle and with whom? Is my enemy also the enemy of God? Have I been living in hiding like David, running for my life? If so, or even if not, I need to be in the habit of inquiring of the Lord for my every battle. If I am to reign through conquest, let it be as a shepherd-king like David. Let me get strategy from God, though it be “wait” or “don’t go out”. And let me heed it as David did; not every day and every battle is even worth fighting. If I am to have victory in life, let it be after hearing the sound of marching through the trees. If God is not going out with me then the fight is not for me to fight. At least not yet. If it is not clear, let me have the discipline to pray until it is. Or let me know I have called something a fight that is a personal matter rather than a spiritual one. Will God send His angelic host host marching through the trees and into my battlefield? Though I may not hear the sound or wait among the balsams, I can learn the lesson of the servant of Elisha – “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them ”. And I can know that if I learn to listen, the enemy will not be ready for the strategy I am given. I do not battle against flesh and blood, but I do battle, both internally where I need tactics to overcome my own sin and externally where I need direction to triumph over evil in public places*.
Father, first choose my battles for me. Then, give me the discipline to always seek You for the way to approach the enemy. Truly the battle belongs to the Lord and to You be the glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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