(January 15, 2019) Brian Bell reflects on winning tactics against an enemy

We’re two weeks into 2019 already!

Over past months I’ve been reading and meditating on Old Testament scriptures and have been encouraged and challenged as the Lord has reminded me of encouraging  truths I can apply to my own life as I seek to victoriously move ahead in 2019 – as can the body of Christ, those believers who make up the church.

In particular I’ve been reminded of spiritual warfare and, knowing my own battles and that if the Lord tarries the enemy will continue to be active in 2019, I share some brief thoughts based on 2 Samuel 10: 6-13 that I trust may be helpful.

I won’t include a historical overview other than to say that Joab was King David’s general. In the verses I mention here, Joab has been sent by David to meet a large army made up of Ammonites, Arameans and others. The story opens as Joab approaches the place of battle… let me share from his winning tactics what I see as lessons for the church.

1) Appraisal
This thought is in the words of verse 9: ‘When Joab saw he would have to fight on two fronts…’

It’s good to be wise and not underestimate the approach and tactics of an enemy – as believers we need to remember that the ‘enemy’ is not ‘people of flesh and blood’ (as the apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:12). So, for example, people with whom we may disagree even on some point of doctrinal theology should not be seen as enemies!

We can be sure the enemy will always seek to display his best and most subtle attack formation – the word ‘appraisal’ is a way of describing how Joab sized up the situation.

Of course Joab was able to see a visible enemy, but in the spiritual realm the approach of our enemy, Satan, may not be so obvious. One of his approaches is to sow seeds of doubt and worthlessness into the minds of believers, even when in prayer, in an effort to try and spoil our confidence before the Lord.

In this connection, I was reminded recently that while I believe in the need to exercise practical holiness in my Christian walk, my confidence before the Lord is not based on my worthiness – whether I have measured up to a standard of behaviour or performance.

2) Strategy
We find Joab’s strategy in the wording of verse 9… eg he chose some of the best troops in his army.

This tells me Joab knew his soldiers well – while he had to act quickly and decisively his strategy was not the result of some panic or hasty decision.  Joab sought to make the best utilisation of all who were involved… taking account of the need to support one another.

  • Surely there is a lesson here for the church. We are all in the Lord’s army, each has an assigned place in the battle yet we need to support each other.
  • This is also a good lesson for church leaders – are we encouraging others, and do we know those who will also encourage others?
  • You may recall how on one occasion King Jehoshaphat went into battle he chose to send the singers ahead of the army – that was certainly a different strategy but the right supportive one at that time.

Unfortunately the church is not good at adopting fresh strategies! We forget that when the scripture says, ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever’ (Hebrews 13:8), it speaks about a consistency of character and nature of the Lord Jesus, not an excuse for never implementing worthwhile change because ‘We’ve always done it this way.’

Personally I believe the most consistent and important strategy today is prayer. And this strategy doesn’t exclude those who are not the most prominent because even the weakest of God’s children can be ‘one of the best troops’ in the place of prayer.

3) Trust
You find this in the words of verse 12 (NLT), ‘May the Lord’s will be done.’
Joab was an excellent general…

  • He knew how to motivate his troops
  • He knew the right strategy to use
  • He was also clearly a man of faith and –
  • He acknowledged the Lord’s hand in action in the midst of his encounter with the enemy.

However prominent a role we may have in the fellowship of believers, or in a ministry role, unlike Joab we are not generals – we are all servants, even if we must carry great responsibility. Our standing before the Lord is always on equal footing with every other believer.

I spent too many years of my early Christian walk believing that my salvation was subject to my performance – this is what Paul sought to deal with when writing to the Galatians, because we do not need to complete by our own efforts that work of faith/grace begun by God.

Our salvation and our daily walk we can trust to the Lord
… and as the song writer has said:

‘If I stumble as I walk the pilgrim way,
If I’m tempted from the path to turn astray,
Let me tell you what I do,
It will bring you comfort too,
I just steal away somewhere and pray.’

Then we move ahead, trusting God! 2 Samuel 10:13 tells us of the victory of the man who trusted the Lord: ‘Then Joab and the troops with him advanced to fight the Arameans, and they fled before him.’

2019 encouragement
But let’s make it personal… maybe like me as you reflect back on the battlefield of 2018, perhaps you too see some victories – but also some defeats.

Be encouraged! To lose a battle is not to lose the war. Until the Lord returns other battles against powers of darkness will arise as we seek to move ahead, live for Jesus and further the kingdom of God!

Yes, spiritual battles will continue in 2019… even if you’ve been wounded, when you are recovered, get back into the line with the other troops and be encouraged.

The great truth is that God still wants to use me, use you… use us!

Let’s recall verse 12: ‘Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight.’

The Message Bible puts it this way: ‘Courage! We’ll fight with might and main for our people and for the cities of our God. And God will do whatever he sees needs doing!’

May we all bravely move ahead victoriously  in 2019!

Brian Bell is a diaconate member, Christ Church (Congregational) Abbots Cross, Northern Ireland, and a volunteer with Disabled Christians Fellowship Ireland. He describes himself as ‘grateful for the privilege and opportunity given me to serve my Lord.’ Link:

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