Read His Words Before Ours!
El Shaddai, God Almighty.
Yahweh Sabaoth, Lord of Hosts.
The Lord is a Warrior,
The Lord is His name. (Exodus 15:3)
The Lord advances like a warrior;
He stirs up His zeal like a soldier.
He shouts, He roars aloud,
He prevails over his enemies.
Have you considered the aspects of God’s nature that make him mighty, strong, valiant, a warrior?
We might know those things about God.
We’ve probably heard and read them.
But do we consider what this looks like in action?
Does the idea of God’s battle anger being compared to a drunk waking up out of control make you uncomfortable? (Psalm 78:65)
Can you imagine God shouting and roaring as He attacks His enemies? (Isaiah 42 13)
It might be hard for some of us.
Perhaps we’re more inclined to remember God’s gentleness, kindness, and compassion since we are urged to submit to the Spirit’s growing this fruit within us. (Galatians 5:22)
This doesn’t negate however what the Bible also shows us of
His wild, warring, just hand,
and His unstoppable defense of His name and people.
A Warrior in our Defense
The Hebrew name Yahweh Sabaoth, speaks directly to God being the Lord of Hosts. He’s the head of His army, leading us in His strength, might and power. Many Old Testament saints believed this and acted upon it. When David showed up to battle Goliath he declared, I come against you in the name of the Lord of Armies, the God of the ranks of Israel—you have defied Him, (I Samuel 17:45). When Aram’s armies were hunting down Elisha and his servant, Elisha prayed for eyes to see God’s host of protection. His servant looked out to the hills and saw them covered with the Lord’s armies (1 Kings 6). The night before the battle at Jericho, the Lord of Hosts appeared to Joshua, affirming that He would indeed bring the walls down (Joshua 5:13-6:2).
A Warrior After Me
Zephaniah 3 explains that the people of God were in deep sin, disobedience, and oppression. Their own priests were wayward, the people had stopped trusting in God, and they had no shame in wrong-doing. Here, God declares that He will rush in and rescue His people from this oppression and restore them to Himself. He declares His faithfulness over them, even when time and time again they failed to turn to Him. It is then that Zephaniah pens the following familiar verses that paint the spectrum of God’s character, including the zeal of a warrior.
On that day it will be said to Jerusalem:
“Do not fear;
Zion, do not let your hands grow weak.
The Lord your God is among you,
a warrior who saves.
He will rejoice over you with gladness.
He will be quiet in his love.
He will delight in you with singing. (vs 16-17)
God’s intense, just nature is fueled by His holiness, His purity, and His desire for His people to be in a right relationship with Himself.
I grew up memorizing Psalm 23 and in particular I learned verse 6 this way:
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”
All these years it sounded like David tied a sweet little bow right onto the end of this well-known, comforting Psalm. I’ll admit that it even had the ring of something that sounded a little too good to be true, like a hallmark card.
Yet, I’ve come to trust this is God’s Word – His promises for those who trust Him, and there’s nothing trite about that. Over the last couple years God has shown me that what I thought was a sweet little “follow”, is actually not a passive, “follow-the-leader” kind of meaning at all. Nor is it like my little one straggling behind me in the store, forcing me to keep saying, “come on now, keep following me”.
No, God is warring after us, and this is very different.
The Hebrew word for follow here is radaph and every other time it is used in the Old Testament, it is in reference to an intense, passionate chase or pursuit, often used in terms of battle. In fact, I love how the Christian Standard Bible version translates Psalm 23:6 this way,
“Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all of the days of my life.”
Pursue! Battle! Chase! Hunt!
These are things warriors do.
And this is the intensity in which our God chases our hearts down.
There was a too-long period of my life when I had been living under private oppression, my heart weighed down and held captive with lies. With one phone call it all came crashing down, as God swung in with His severe mercy. It felt like the fist of God pounding down on a table hollering “ENOUGH!”, not in anger toward me, but in battle against sin, darkness, lies and oppression. It was like Jeremiah expresses in 20:11,
But the Lord is with me like a violent warrior.
Therefore, my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.
His faithful, violent love hunted me down and didn’t stop until I was found.
This is the kind of warring love our Savior has for us!
Let us fear this Warrior Lord for who He is,
and draw near to Him because of the love He gives.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!