Monday, August 29, 2011

a soldier's theology

Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the LORD do what seems good to him.
2 Samuel 10:12

These words come from the top tier of the military leadership of Israel under David's command. This is what Joab, the top general of Israel, said to rally the troops. They serve as an example of how conflict was approached by the army of Israel. And in the approach is instruction for handling unknown and fearful difficulty.

The first part of this address to the troops is a call to courage. It is a speech to build morale. Israel had been painfully insulted at a diplomatic setting. At a state funeral in Ammon, the Israeli delegation had been clearly singled out for humiliation. The new king of Ammon felt threatened and chose to physically taunt Israel's power by sending the delegation home shaved, and naked from the waist down. This was a clear message of hatred, of emnity to David. Then Ammon allied with the rest of Israel's historic enemies and prepared for battle.

The sudden move to wartime footing required courage. Israel's armies were facing a cleverly prepared defensive battle in enemy territory and the Ammonites and Syrians set up plenty of troops and resources to this advantage. They expected to humble Israel in battle just like they had humiliated and laughed at the delegation.

There was a call for the Israeli army to remember their unique call as soldiers. They were to be courageous for the people. National honor and the unique status of Israel as God's chosen nation was at stake in this war. And the call of the generals was a reminder of who they were fighting for and just how important the outcome must be.

The charge then moves into a reminder of God's unique call to Israel. The cities of the nation, each hometown of each soldier, all the territory the Jews occupied had been given by God and belonged to God first and foremost. They were fighting to hold on to that unique gift. This was personal and spiritual.

The final part of this short rallying speech was a call to be reminded of God's sovereignty. There was Someone Whose reputation was greater than the reputation of the army. God would ultimately hold the outcome of this war in His control. They army would ultimately submit to that truth as they fought the fight. Each soldier and each skirmish had to align with God's sovereign leadership. Even the generals could not outrule God in that regard.

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

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