If you are facing a back-against-the-wall situation in your life today, you have the perfect opportunity to exhibit faith in the face of it. Faith is an investment of trust in the sufficiency of God to take care of you. The return on your investment is up to God, but to this point, he has a 100% track record of delivering a yield of ever-increasing value in response to faith. Step out in faith, my friend, and you too, like the heroes of the Bible, will earn your spiritual bona fides.
Going Deep // Focus: 1 Chronicles 10:11-12
When all the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all their valiant men went and took the bodies of Saul and his sons and brought them to Jabesh. Then they buried their bones under the great tree in Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.
You and I never want to have our backs against the wall, but on the other hand, isn’t a backs-against-the-wall circumstance usually the very place where our natural lives are infused with supernatural empowerment that enable us to do great exploits for God? We normally don’t develop outstanding testimonies of faith in the good times. Those stories come out of desperation and darkness. When we are pressed into knowing no helper but God is when we, well, know God. As someone has rightly pointed out, you will never know that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.
In this sad story, Israel’s arch nemesis, the Philistines, have defeated the army of Saul. An enemy archer wounded the king, and fearing that he will be captured, and tortured in the most unspeakable way, he pleads with his armor bearer to take his life. When the loyal soldier refuses, Saul falls on his own sword, and the glory of Israel is snuffed out. The Philistines overrun the rest of the army, Saul’s sons, including the heroic Jonathan, are also killed, and God’s people are put to flight.
And true to his fears, the Philistines mutilate Saul’s body, and then abuse his honor by putting it on display in the temple of their god:
They stripped him and took his head and his armor, and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim the news among their idols and their people. They put his armor in the temple of their gods and hung up his head in the temple of Dagon. (1 Chronicles 10:9-10)
Israel is at a low point, and all the people in the nearby towns flee in fear to escape similar brutality at the hands of this cold-blooded enemy. All—except some incredibly courageous men from the town of Jabesh Gilead. On that dark and desperate day, we are told that they put together their special forces and marched right into the temple of Dagon to recover the bodies of King Saul and his sons. They brought them back to Israel, gave them a proper burial, and mourned their loss for a number of days that was appropriate in that culture. Later, when David was anointed king, he singled these brave men out for special recognition:
When David was told that it was the men from Jabesh Gilead who had buried Saul, he sent messengers to them to say to them, “The Lord bless you for showing this kindness to Saul your master by burying him. May the Lord now show you kindness and faithfulness, and I too will show you the same favor because you have done this. Now then, be strong and brave, for Saul your master is dead, and the people of Judah have anointed me king over them. (2 Samuel 2:3-7)
What inspired the bravery of these warriors from Jabesh Gilead? Were they just naturally courageous fighters? Did they have such love for the Lord or such hatred for the Philistines, or both, that they acted with such bold defiance in the face of such an atrocity? We don’t know for sure, but what we do know is that their backs were against the proverbial wall, and they acted in faith. And in that act, they “made their bones!”
Courage isn’t the lack of fear, it is the presence of faith. Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, the famed American pilot in World War I and recipient of the Medal of Honor, said,
Courage is doing what you are afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you are scared.
I would propose that you could drop the word “faith” in the place of “courage” and it would be just as true.
If you are facing a back-against-the-wall situation in your life today, you have the perfect opportunity to exhibit faith in the face of it. Faith is an investment of trust in the sufficiency of God to take care of you. The return on your investment is up to God, but up to this point, he has a 100% track record of delivering a yield of ever-increasing value in response to faith.
Step out in faith, my friend, and you too, like the men of Jabesh Gilead, will earn your spiritual bona fides.