Loved When Fighting Alone
“Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim for battle. Then the Israelites retreated, but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.” (2 Samuel 23:9-10 NIV)
It's an obscure story nestled in 2nd Samuel. This Old Testament story is a repeat of fights that have occurred before, in fact, this time, we see the same characters, Israelites versus the Philistines. The battle occurs in a barley field where decades earlier, David defeated Goliath and catapulted the fearful nation into an aggressive and secure foe of the rival country for years to come. With all of this rich history, the Israelites should be happy to fight. Their previous victory would be enough to catapult them to new heights in God. But those ideas are dashed to the ground when the taunts and the shouts came from the other side of the battlefield. This time, without warning, the Philistines charged the unsuspecting Israelites, and they ran in fear.
Have you ever been the only one fighting? It may not have been in a physical fight, but you can hear the rustling of retreating friends in a difficult situation. You have witnessed the frustration of watching family members run and hide in the face of what could have been a great victory. You not only feel all alone but now the only person willing to fight. It is tempting in these moments to assume God is just as fickle as some of His children. But this story has a unique twist.
While everyone else was running away, the Bible records that someone stood up. We don’t know much about him, his height, weight, or records in prior battles. We only know that he was not going to back down that day. He was not going to allow his friends’ retreat or the advancement of his enemies to change his mission.
Eleazar stood his ground. He dug in his heels. He set his face like flint and said, “not today, Satan!” He fought the enemy that day. He battled so hard that his hand literally “froze to the sword.” You may be reading this and saying, “I don't have that kind of fight in me.” “This journey is too hard.” “It’s not fair that everyone else left, and I’m the only one left to fight.” And you are correct! While it may not be right, it could be accurate, but the beauty of this text is that we see God’s love uniquely revealed.
When everyone else was leaving, and while Eleazar fought until he became one with his sword, the Bible gives credit to the same source that we can draw strength from for our victories, “the Lord brought about a great victory that day.” God worked through the young soldier when everyone else left him. God provided strength when he was tired. The Savior preserved his life amid impossible odds, and if He can do it for Eleazar, He will most certainly do it for you. He loves us so much that “He will never leave us or forsake us.” We see Gods’ love in the midst of fighting alone. And you know… it may be that we see God the clearest when everyone else runs out on us. Trust that He wants to give you the victory today.
“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." (Exodus 14:14 NIV)
- What is so frustrating about fighting (or working) alone, especially when there are others around that can help?
- How can you draw closer to God in those moments?