Learn from David’s success on the physical battlefield to prevail in your spiritual battles1
Introduction: With God’s help, David’s army defeated the Philistines in Gath, the Moabites in Jordan, the Arameans in Syria, and the Edomites in Jordan (1 Chr. 18). Here, David’s army battled against the Ammonites in Jordan and again against the Arameans. These battles should be read on three levels. First, they reveal the faithfulness of God in keeping His promises. Second, they showed the faith of David and his men. Third, this account provides lessons for believers today in spiritual warfare: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12). Here, God’s seven lessons include: (1) love, (2) restraint, (3) Spirit-led leaders, (4) unity, (5) encouragement, (6) faith, and (7) peace.
First, David was obligated to clear the Promised Land of Israel’s enemies. But this did not apply to areas outside of the Promised Land. Thus, upon the death of an enemy Ammonite king outside of the Promised Land in Jordan, David showed kindness to his enemy. From David’s example, God reveals that spiritual warfare should include love and kindness toward your enemies. Second, the Ammonites rejected David’s peace offering and humiliated David’s peace envoys by shaving their beards. David, however, did not retaliate. From his example, God reveals that spiritual warfare should include patience and self-restraint. Third, when the Ammonites in Jordan joined forces with the remaining Arameans in Syria, David assembled his men without fear who trusted God. From David’s example, God reveals that spiritual warfare should include Spirit-led leaders who trust in the Lord. Fourth, when the enemy surrounded David’s men, David’s men carefully coordinated with each other to offer protection if needed. From this example, God reveals that spiritual warfare should include unity of the Body of Christ. Fifth, David’s general Joab encouraged his men before battle. From his example, God reveals that spiritual warfare should include encouraging one another to bolster every person’s faith. Sixth, when the enemy forces again attacked, David’s faith and the faith of his men allowed God to defeat their enemies. From their example, God reveals that spiritual warfare should include faith in God. Finally, after defeating the Ammonites, David made peace with the Arameans who remained. From David’s example, God reveals that spiritual warfare should include a desire for peace. Like David, believers should seek to live in harmony with others wherever possible.
David shows kindness following the death of the Ammonite king. After defeating many enemies in battle, David showed kindness after the death of an enemy Ammonite king: “1 Now it came about after this, that Nahash the king of the sons of Ammon died, and his son became king in his place. 2 Then David said, ‘I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, because his father showed kindness to me.’ So David sent messengers to console him concerning his father. And David’s servants came into the land of the sons of Ammon to Hanun to console him.” (1 Chr. 19:1-2; 2 Sam. 10:1-2a). King Hanun is believed to be either the son or grandson of King Nahash whom Saul conquered (1 Samuel 11) approximately fifty years earlier. The Ammonites would have deeply resented Israel for this defeat. Although David was a sinner, his kindness toward the Ammonites distinguished him from the worldly kings around him. This is one of the many Spirit-led actions that showed that he was a man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22).
The Jews’ long-term conflict with the Ammonites. The Ammonites were long-term enemies of the Jews. The Ammonites in modern day Jordan previously attacked the Jews in Gilead. Out of grace, God then empowered an unworthy judge named Jephthah with the Holy Spirit to gather an army of Jewish soldiers to defeat the Ammonite army in battle (Jdgs. 11:29-33). Jephthah, however, later sought to pay tribute to God with an evil act of sacrificing his daughter (Jdgs. 11:34-40). Hundreds of years later, possibly the same Ammonite King Nahash (1 Chr. 19:1-2) attacked the Jews at Jabesh-gilead. The Jews there promised to serve this king if the king made a covenant with them (1 Sam. 11:1). Yet, Nahash would only make a covenant of peace with them if each Jew agreed to be mutilated in one eye (1 Sam. 11:2). At a time when he walked with the Spirit, Saul united the Jews together to free their brothers (1 Sam. 11:5-8). Yet, like Jephthah, Saul then turned away from God. The Ammonites likely thought little of the Jews’ claims of righteousness. Unlike Jephthah and Saul, David showed righteousness through kindness.
Use kindness and love to win over your enemies. Like David, try to win over your enemies with love and kindness: “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.” (Prov. 25:21-22; Ro. 12:20). “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Ro. 12:21). “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matt. 5:44). “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you . . . But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” (Lk. 6:28, 35). Do you pray for and show love and kindness toward your enemies? Or, are you cold toward them?
Forgive those who persecute you. Directed by the Spirit, David showed forgiveness and pursued peace over conflict: “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression.” (Prov. 19:11). “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:32). “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Matt. 6:14). “bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” (Col. 3:13). Have you forgiven those who have harmed you?
The Ammonites accuse David’s envoys of spying and humiliate them. Motivated by the flesh, the Ammonites rejected King David’s peace offering and humiliated David’s peace envoys. Yet, David did not retaliate: “3 But the princes of the sons of Ammon said to Hanun, ‘Do you think that David is honoring your father, in that he has sent comforters to you? Have not his servants come to you to search and to overthrow and to spy out the land?’ 4 So Hanun took David’s servants and shaved them and cut off their garments in the middle as far as their hips, and sent them away. 5 Then certain persons went and told David about the men. And he sent to meet them, for the men were greatly humiliated. And the king said, ‘Stay at Jericho until your beards grow, and then return.’” (1 Chr. 19:3-5; 2 Sam. 10:2b-5). Under the Torah, a Jew could not (1) shave his head or (2) shave off the edges of his beard or cut his body: “They shall not make any baldness on their heads, nor shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any cuts in their flesh.” (Lev. 21:5). These things were not to be done in mourning for “the dead.” (Lev. 19:28; Dt. 14:1; Lev. 21:1-4). During Old Testament times, the followers of Baal worshipped their god and the dead by cutting themselves and the “corners” of their beard near the chin, below the ears and on top of their heads (1 Kgs. 18:28). Captured gentile woman also frequently shaved their heads in mourning their dead (Dt. 20:13-14; 21:12-14). God’s rules were meant to distinguish the Jews from those who cut themselves as an act of pagan worship. Shaving was permitted when it was for other kinds of mourning unrelated to death (Nu. 6:5; 2 Sam. 14:26; Amos 8:10; Micah 1:16; Jer. 41:5). David most likely sent his envoys to Jericho, a city of refuge (Josh. 20:8), so they could not be attacked or shamed while their beards grew back. If David had been motivated by the flesh, he would have retaliated for the insult against his envoys. Instead, he showed self-restraint and patience. This is a sign of a Spirit-led leader.
Show self-restraint when you are attacked. David had once responded with rage and tried to kill Nabal for failing to offer food for his men after David’s men had protected Nabal’s herds. David relented only after Abigail offered restitution and pleaded for mercy (1 Sam. 25:21-31). Through his testing and molding in the wilderness, God taught David the importance of self-restraint. Like David at this point in his walk, Jesus calls upon believers to show restraint when they are provoked or insulted. “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” (Matt. 5:39; Lk. 6:29). “not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.” (1 Pet. 3:9). “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. . . Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.” (Ro. 12:14, 17). When others hurt you or insult you, do you restrain your urge to strike back?
Show patience for God’s timing when you are attacked. Part of being restrained includes waiting for God’s timing if you are to respond at all: “Do not say, ‘I will repay evil’; wait for the LORD, and He will save you.” (Prov. 20:22). From his many lessons on the battlefield, David later wrote songs to celebrate God for teaching him patience: “For the choir director. A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.” (Ps. 40:1). “Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD.” (Ps. 27:14). “Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed; those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed.” (Ps. 25:3). “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for You.” (Ps. 25:21). When you face an enemy or conflict, do you wait on God for guidance in responding?
David finds “mighty men” to fight against the Ammonites and Aramean mercenaries. Because the Ammonites lacked the strength to defeat the Jews on their own, they hired Aramean mercenaries. Directed by the Spirit, David assembled his mighty men without fear to fight them: “6 When the sons of Ammon saw that they had made themselves odious to David, Hanun and the sons of Ammon sent 1,000 talents of silver to hire for themselves chariots and horsemen from Mesopotamia, from Aram-maacah and from Zobah. 7 So they hired for themselves 32,000 chariots, and the king of Maacah and his people, who came and camped before Medeba. And the sons of Ammon gathered together from their cities and came to battle. 8 When David heard of it, he sent Joab and all the army, the mighty men. 9 The sons of Ammon came out and drew up in battle array at the entrance of the city, and the kings who had come were by themselves in the field.” (1 Chr. 19:6-9; 2 Sam. 10:6-8;). The Ammonites paid the Arameans / Syrians 1,000 talents to fight against the Jews (1 Chr. 19:6). David would have known that an army of mercenaries would not have the same motivation as an army motivated by faith. Thus, David turned to men who were “mighty” in the Spirit to defeat them.
Select Spirit-led leaders to lead the fight. When Moses tried to lead the nation on his own, his father-in-law Jethro rebuked him and advised him to select God-fearing men who loved the truth and hated dishonest gain to help lead: “Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.” (Ex. 18:21). In the New Testament, such a leader is referred to as either being full of the Spirit or Spirit-led: “Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.” (Acts 6:3). God also wants you to seek the help of others as you serve Him. Are you looking for help from Spirit-led people to help you be a leader for God?
The laying hands upon a future leader should never be done in haste. Although selecting other leaders to help run a ministry or organization is critical to success, great harm can come to an organization or ministry that selects a leader who is not ready or qualified. The leadership selection process is not concluded until a senior leader publicly laid hands on the new leader (Nu. 27:19). This symbolized the transfer of authority (Lev. 1:4). Yet, Paul warns: “do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.” (1 Tim. 5:22). The Bible provides several tests to make sure a leader is ready to lead. First, as quoted above, the person must be an honest God-fearing and Spirit-led person (Ex. 18:21; Acts 6:3). Second, a person must be content (1 Tim. 6:6-9). Third, the person must be “above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach.” (1 Tim. 3:2). Fourth, the person also must not be “addicted to wine or be pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money.” (1 Tim. 3:3; 6:6-10). Fifth, the person must also manage his or her own household well (1 Tim. 3:4). Sixth, the person must also not be a new convert (1 Tim. 3:6). Finally, the person must also lead by being a servant to others (1 Tim. 6:2). In short, you will know them by their fruits (Matt. 7:16, 20). Every believer is part of God’s nation of priests (1 Pet. 2:5). Ask God to show you where to improve as a leader.
Trust God to fight your battles. David trusted God to lead these Spirit-led men because he knew God was with Israel when it walked in Spirit-led obedience. For example, God previously defeated Pharaoh’s mighty armies at the sea (Ex. 15:3-4). God once used a judge named Shamgar to defeat 600 Philistines with only a sharp farming tool (Jdgs. 3:31). He used the female judge Deborah with no military training to help the Jews to fight the Canaanite king named Jabin and his military commander named Sisera. (Jdgs. 4:6-7). He also gave Samson the power to kill a 1,000 Philistines with a donkey’s jawbone (Jdgs. 15:15). He also previously used Samuel with no military training to defeat the Philistines (1 Sam. 7:10-14). Indeed, God’s hand was present in each of the Jews’ many victories. Moses explained “The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Dt. 31:8). God was able to defend the Jews more efficiently than David or any general could. The Jews only needed to show up in faith. Do you trust God to fight your battles?
Fear is “false evidence appearing real”. The Lord is the only thing that you are to fear. (Prov. 1:7). And this is defined as hating evil (Prov. 8:12). “The fear of man brings a snare. But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.” (Prov. 29:25). When God wanted to reduce the size of Gideon’s army, the first thing He did was to dismiss every soldier who felt afraid (Jdgs. 7:3). God did not want any person fighting in His army who feared the enemy. Such a person had no trust in Him: “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you.” (Dt. 20:1). “He shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, you are approaching the battle against your enemies today. Do not be fainthearted. Do not be afraid, or panic, or tremble before them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’” (Dt. 20:3-4). If you fear anything other than God your faith is lacking. Although David was the smallest man in his family, he feared no evil or any enemy because he had faith that God was fighting for him. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?. . . Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arises against me, in spite of this I shall be confident.” (Ps. 27:1-3). “I fear no evil, for you are with me.” (Ps. 23:4). “How blessed in the man that fears the Lord . . . He will not fear evil tidings” (Ps. 112:7). “Say to the anxious heart, ‘take courage, fear not.” (Is. 34:4). Is there any person, thing, or enemy that you fear? If so, Satan may use that fear to ensnare you and cause your faith in Jesus to falter. Without faith, you are of no use in God’s army. Without faith, it is “impossible” to please Him (Heb. 11:6).
Never fear evil people. Believers will do foolish things when they let their fear of other people control their actions: “The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.” (Prov. 29:25). “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.” (Lk. 12:4). Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5). “casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Pet. 5:7). The last time you felt fear, had you taken your eyes off Jesus?
Joab organizes the Jewish army with a pact to aid one another. Faced with two armies, Joab coordinated with the Spirit-led leaders from the 12 tribes to ensure that each would come to the aid of the other if overwhelmed in combat. He also delegated responsibility to his brother Abishai: “10 Now when Joab saw that the battle was set against him in front and in the rear, he selected from all the choice men of Israel and they arrayed themselves against the Arameans. 11 But the remainder of the people he placed in the hand of Abshai his brother; and they arrayed themselves against the sons of Ammon. 12 He said, ‘If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you shall help me; but if the sons of Ammon are too strong for you, then I will help you.” (1 Chr. 19:10-12; 2 Sam. 10:9-11). The enemy forces had surrounded the Jews. And David was not there when he was meant to be there (2 Sam. 11:1). If the Jews had not coordinated, the enemy could have defeated them. Only by working together could they prevail. Victory did not depend upon him or any one person. Instead, victory required all of Israel to act with one accord.
Unite others in the Body of Christ. Like Joab and his Spirit-led men, believers in Christ are also commanded to “fight the good fight of faith . . . ” (1 Tim. 6:12). Believers are also called upon to fight in His army (2 Tim. 2:3). It is also not enough to merely fight with your brothers and sisters, you must also act with one accord as the Spirit leads the body. “so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Ro. 12:5). “Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.” (1 Cor. 10:17). “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” (1 Cor. 12:12). “But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; or again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’” (1 Cor. 12:20-21). “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;” (Eph. 4:4). For example, after Gideon’s 300 men routed the enemy, He called upon others in the nearby hill country of Ephraim to join in the pursuit of the fleeing enemy (Jdgs. 7:24-25). Only by working together could the Jews defeat their enemy. Through this example, God provides lessons on working with others in spiritual warfare. Yet, you must also be motivated by love when you act with others: “Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” (Col. 3:14). Joab acted both with one accord and with love. Do your words unify others for God’s glory? Or, do your words cause pain and division?
Find protection within the Body of Christ. God also offers you protection when you are connected to fellow believers: “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:25). Satan acts like a roaring lion. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8). Believers are also called “sheep,” animals without natural defenses. (e.g., Jo. 21:16, 27). Lions usually attack animals that stray from the protections of the herd. Believers cannot claim to be accountable if they float in and out of a mega church or watch sermons online. Believers must also be accountable to a small group of believers. Are you in any type of small church group? Or, are you a lone ranger for Christ?
Satan cannot be defeated without Christ. Just like the Jewish army, you also cannot defeat your spiritual enemy without Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. This is why you are warned to flee Satan’s temptations. (2 Tim. 2:22). Yet, if you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, you need not fear Satan’s power. The Bible promises: “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 Jo. 4:4). “I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.” (1 Jo. 2:13). Are you trying to face Satan alone?
Joab encourages his troops before the battle. Before the fight began, Joab encouraged his troops not to be afraid because God was with them: “13 Be strong, and let us show ourselves courageous for the sake of our people and for the cities of our God; and may the Lord do what is good in His sight.’ 14 So Joab and the people who were with him drew near to the battle against the Arameans, and they fled before him. 15 When the sons of Ammon saw that the Arameans fled, they also fled before Abshai his brother and entered the city. Then Joab came to Jerusalem.” (1 Chr. 19:13-15; 2 Sam. 10:12-14). Like Joab, believers are called upon to encourage and protect each other. Because Joab bolstered the faith of his men, God was with them.
Encourage one another in spiritual warfare. As a believer, you are commanded to encourage others each day. “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb. 3:13). “But I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.” (Heb. 13:22). “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1 Cor. 16:13). “Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD.” (Ps. 31:24). “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Dt. 31:6). Are you encouraging others each day in their faith?
God’s Word – the antidote to fear and lacking faith. David and his generals had no fear because of their faith. To ensure that their men also had faith, they encouraged each other with God’s Word. If your faith is lacking, God calls upon you to build it up reading the Word: “[F]aith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Ro. 10:17). The next time you fear, recite His promises: “Do not fear for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand . . . Do not fear, I will help you.” (Is. 41:10, 13). “For I know the plans I have for you . . . plans for welfare and not calamity to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer. 29:11). “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” (2 Tim. 1:7). Faith is like a muscle. It can atrophy if you don’t read the Word. Are you reading the Word and praying to build up your faith?
Be encouraged and strengthened by the Spirit. God also knows when your faith is weak. When you let His Spirit lead you, He will encourage and strengthen you: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” (Eph. 6:10). “On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.” (Ps. 138:3). “He said, ‘O man of high esteem, do not be afraid. Peace be with you; take courage and be courageous!’ Now as soon as he spoke to me, I received strength and said, ‘May my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”’ (Dan. 10:19). “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Ro. 8:14). If you are feeling weak or depressed, are you praying in faith for Him to strengthen and encourage you?
When you walk with God, your enemy will also flee from you. The “Arameans fled” from Joab and Abishi’s forces without engaging in any combat (2 Sam. 10:14). When you walk in faith and obedience, God promises to install fear into your enemy and cause them to flee from you: “One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the LORD your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you.” (Josh. 23:10). “The LORD shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways.” (Dt. 28:7). ‘“But you will chase your enemies and they will fall before you by the sword; five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you by the sword.’” (Lev. 26:7-8). When you take refuge in God, He promises to be a shield to the evil attacks of the enemy: “Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” (Prov. 30:5; 2 Sam. 22:31). With His help, Jonathan killed 20 Philistines (1 Sam. 14:12). His power also allowed David to kill Goliath (1 Sam. 17:50-58). He does not want you to fear any enemy (Ro. 8:15). Are you walking in faith and obedience so that He can act on your behalf to cause your enemies to flee?
David’s soldiers’ faith caused God to strike down the united enemy armies. With the power of the Holy Spirit, David’s army was able to defeat the armies that assembled against it: “16 When the Arameans saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they sent messengers and brought out the Arameans who were beyond the River, with Shophach the commander of the army of Hadadezer leading them. 17 When it was told David, he gathered all Israel together and crossed the Jordan, and came upon them and drew up in formation against them. And when David drew up in battle array against the Arameans, they fought against him. 18 The Arameans fled before Israel, and David killed of the Arameans 7,000 charioteers and 40,000 foot soldiers, and put to death Shophach the commander of the army.” (1 Chr. 19:16-18; 2 Sam. 10:15-18). The Arameans had previously lost 22,000 men in battle against David. They lost then and lost again here because God was with David and his men in battle: “When the Arameans of Damascus came to help Hadadezer, king of Zobah, David killed 22,000 Arameans. Then David put garrisons among the Arameans of Damascus, and the Arameans became servants to David, bringing tribute. And the LORD helped David wherever he went.” (1 Sam. 8:5-6). The Arameans would not give up after their defeats. Your enemy will also not give up easily in his pursuit of you. You must remain steadfast in your faith. When your faith remains steadfast, God will also defeat your enemies.
God empowered the Israelites to defeat the Arameans2
When you have faith, God will also defeat your enemy. David’s army prevailed because of their faith: “who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.” (Heb. 11:33-34). Just as He did with David, God promises that He can use the few to defeat the many. “But you will chase your enemies and they will fall before you by the sword; five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you by the sword.” (Lev. 26:7-8). “One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the LORD your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you.” (Josh. 23:10). As another example, when Jacob’s family repented of their sins at Shechem and acted with obedience, God placed a terror upon their enemies: “As they journeyed, there was a great terror upon the cities which were around them, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.” (Gen. 35:5). After God crushed the Egyptians at the Red Sea, Moses celebrated God’s victory the Jews’ enemies: “Terror and dread fall upon them . . ..” (Ex. 15:16(a)). As the Jews journeyed to the Promised Land, God repeatedly promised to deliver the Jews through a “terror” that He would place upon their enemies: “I will send My terror ahead of you, and throw into confusion all the people among whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you.” (Ex. 23:27). “The Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways.” (Dt. 28:7; 2:25; Lev. 26:7-8; Nu 10:9, 35; Isa. 54:17). Joshua also promised the Jews that those who cling to God would see their enemies flee (Josh. 23:10). For those who are obedient and take refuge in Him, He promises to be a shield against the enemy’s fiery darts: “He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” (Prov. 30:5(b); 2 Sam. 22:31). Are you clinging to Jesus when you need protection? Does your faith waver under pressure?
All things are possible with God when you have faith and rely upon His strength. Jesus once revealed that “‘With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”’ (Matt. 19:26(b); Mk. 10:27(b); Lk. 1:37). “Is anything too difficult for the LORD?” (Gen. 18:14(a)). “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (Jer. 32:27). Job likewise boasted: “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2). “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Ro. 8:31). Yet, a believer’s faith is perfected in weakness. “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2 Cor. 12:9). The faith of David was perfected by his weakness.
David makes peace with the Arameans. David again showed himself to be a Spirit-led leader by seeking peace where combat was unnecessary: “19 So when the servants of Hadadezer saw that they were defeated by Israel, they made peace with David and served him. Thus the Arameans were not willing to help the sons of Ammon anymore.” (1 Chr. 19:19; 2 Sam. 10:19). This chapter begins and ends with David attempting to seek peace with his enemies. In this respect, David was a role model for believers to follow.
God used David to fulfill His promises to His people3
Forgive those who have hurt you. Here, peace was only possible because David was able to forgive his Aramean enemy. As a role model for all believers, Jesus also forgave those who crucified Him while He hung on the cross dying a painful death. “But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’” (Lk. 23:24(a)). Just as David and later Jesus forgave those who attacked them, you too are called upon to forgive those who have attacked you: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matt. 5:7). “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.” (Lk. 6:37). “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression.” (Prov. 19:11). “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:32). “bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” (Col. 3:13). Is there anyone you need to forgive?
Avoid strife and be at peace with others. Like David, God blesses those who pursue peace and unity: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” (Ps. 133:1(b)). “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so abandon the quarrel before it breaks out.” (Prov. 17:14). “Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, . . .” (Prov. 20:3; Ro. 12:18). “So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.” (Ro. 14:19). He will also put your enemies at peace with you: “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Prov. 16:7). When others hurt you or try to take things belonging to you, do you seek peace or retribution and conflict?
Be at peace with others. Like David, you are commanded to be at peace with others when possible. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” (Ro. 12:18). “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” (Mark 9:50). If you stay at peace with others around you, Jesus promises to bless you: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matt. 5:9). Are you a peacemaker to those in conflict? If you cause conflict, what kind of witness for Christ are you?
Leave vengeance to God. David did not need to seek vengeance against the Ammonites because he left vengeance to God. And God was faithful to later judge the Ammonites for their wickedness. The prophet Ezekiel later prophesied about God’s judgment against them: “And you, son of man, prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD concerning the sons of Ammon and concerning their reproach,’ and say: ‘A sword, a sword is drawn, polished for the slaughter, to cause it to consume, that it may be like lightning—”’ (Ezek. 21:28). The prophet Zephaniah also gave God’s prophecy of judgment against them: “I have heard the taunting of Moab and the revilings of the sons of Ammon, with which they have taunted My people and become arrogant against their territory.” (Zeph. 2:8). Like David, God calls upon you to leave vengeance to Him. “'Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, in due time their foot will slip; for the day of their calamity is near, and the impending things are hastening upon them.” (Dt. 32:35; Ro. 12:19). Have you given your desires for vengeance about your enemies to God?
God will judge His enemies during the end times. Just as David judged the Ammonites and Israel’s other enemies, Jesus will judge nations during the end times when He will drive out the ruler of this world: “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” (Jo. 12:31). During the end times, He will bring death to the unrighteous in a battle at the valley of Armageddon. (Rev. 16:12-21). He will also punish, with eternal death, those who refuse to submit to Him after a trial at the Great White Throne Judgment. (Rev. 20:11-15). God does not want any to perish. (2 Pet. 3:9). Nevertheless, because He is just, He must eventually judge sin. No individual or nation is exempt from being judged for their sins. Faith in Jesus is the only means to be saved. (Acts 4:12). If the death of the unsaved causes you sorrow, are you motivated to tell them the good news so that they can be saved? (Matt. 28:16-20).