Thursday, October 12, 2006


1 Samuel 17:41-47

I was asked last week about the significance of the Lord of Hosts. While this name of God is not one we will have the time to study in LIFEgroups, it is a significant name regarding the power of our Creator and the confidence we can have in Him. The revelation of this name comes at a peculiar time in the history of Israel.

Most of the names we have looked at so far have been revealed through the patriarchs. This Sunday's name, Jehovah-Rapha, is found at the Exodus event. Jehovah-Sabaoth, Lord of Hosts, is found further into Israel's history--1 Samuel to be exact. Elkanah and Hannah, Samuel's parents, invoke the name of the Lord of Hosts when they go to pray at Shiloh. In each instance, Eli's sons--Hophni and Phineas--are also mentioned. What we see here is what the other appearances of this name convey (Jehovah-Sabaoth appears mostly in the prophets...80 times in Jeremiah): Jehovah-Sabaoth is revealed not through the Patriarchs, not in their 400+ year sabbatical in Egypt, not in their 40 year wilderness wandering, not in their conquest. Jehovah-Sabaoth appears at the time when Israel begins to put their trust in man's power rather than God's. Hophni and Phineas, Eli's evil yet priestly sons, play a big part in moving people's minds toward desiring an earthly king so that they could compete with their surrounding neighbors. They wanted to feel powerful by having a physical king. I can't get into it here, but the name Jehovah-Sabaoth is invoked mostly during the time of the divided kingdom--both in relation to Israel's discipline (the Lord of Hosts casts His heavy hand upon His disobedient people who fail to trust in Him) and in Israel's deliverance (the Lord of Hosts teaches His people through their discipline and they again rely upon the Lord of Hosts to deliver them from exile).

Our passage (1 Samuel 17:41-47) gives us a perfect example. The "hosts" refers to something more than just the heavenly host. I think there is a ring to it that includes, somehow, all of God's army--heavenly and otherwise. David, here, is speaking of the army of Israel in addition to the heavenly army. The army had no faith, but David did. He saw no intimidating enemy--just an uncircumcised Philistine who was no match for God and His hosts.

You know what, it doesn't matter the battle you face; it doesn't matter the size of your enemy. God plus nothing is always greater! When in faith and obedience you line up with Jehovah-Sabaoth...Goliath's will fall all day long!

That sounds great, doesn't it? The fact of the matter is, however, that it's way too easy for us to focus on our physical allies and lose our faith in the Lord of Hosts. Sometimes we prefer to draw lines and count how many are on our side...and if our side is fewer than the other side, we panic. David won a victory against Goliath, but soon changed his tune from faith in Jehovah-Sabaoth to faith in David-Sabaoth. 1 Chronicles 21 is a powerful chapter which concerns the Lord of Hosts working for His people in a strange way. Sometimes the "hosts" includes, along with the heavenly army, NOT Israel's army BUT Israel's enemy's army. (Think about the exiles. God used His host against Israel to teach them that He alone is Jehovah-Sabaoth that they would again turn to Him and trust in Jehovah-Sabaoth.)

The Lord of Hosts reminds us that all the world--every king, every army, every government are merely pawns in the hand of a sovereign King. To put your faith in Him alone and in nothing of our own devise is to slay Goliath. To stand in the midst of a terrible storm, crying out for an answer as to why we must go through such a struggle, is to be schooled by the King that we might learn not to put our faith in our own strength or in any other earthly thing but to truly look to Jehovah-Sabaoth.

All the names of God are fulfilled perfectly in Jesus Christ. I don't know how we could end this discussion without reading Revelation 19:11-21 (especially verse 14).