Don’t Retreat, Advance!

How can a believer stand firm in their faith in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances?

In this post, I’d like to share the lessons I’ve gleaned while studying the battle records of David’s mighty men, in particular, the exploits of Eleazar and Shammah. Now, when we believers read our Bibles, we are often faced with a challenge. What are we to make of the

genealogies and other seemingly endless lists consisting of hard to pronounce names? Our natural urge is to gloss over them or skip these ‘boring’ chapters entirely. But this should not be our response, since every incident in Scripture is written down as an example for us to apply to our Christian walk (1 Corinthians 10:11).

Let us turn our attention to Eleazar’s approach when he opposed the Philistines. He held so firmly to his sword that his hand was stuck to it. There is no mention of him giving up or throwing down his weapon. The Word says he defied the Philistines. When the enemy came at him, Eleazar didn’t retreat.

To us, Eleazar’s actions might appear stupid. One man versus an entire army with the latest military technologies of iron weapons and chariots. In those days, the Philistines didn’t allow the Israelites to own any iron weapons or sharpen them (see 1 Sam 13:21). But, in this battle, it wasn’t Eleazar fighting. It was Eleazar plus God against the Philistine army. And the Israelites won.

As believers, we hold onto our weapon, the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17)! Only by going forward do we conquer. We are more than conquerors in Christ. Eleazar trusted God to help him overcome the enemy. He defended the territory until the only task everyone else had to do was to plunder their enemies.

Next, we read about Shammah’s battle against the Philistines in a field of lentils (2 Sam 23:11). Why does the Bible inform us that Shammah was fighting in a field of lentils? During that time, the Philistines launched many surprise raids against the Israelites to steal their crops. Shammah was fighting for more than to preserve the food source of his people. The Bible records this detail because God wanted to honor Shammah’s courage. God keeps records of all the battles that we face, including where and how we fight.

Perhaps, after that fateful event, whenever Shammah looked at lentils for his dinner, he would remember the victory God brought him. And since God had helped him previously, it was easier to trust God for the next battle. Like Eleazar, he stood firm when the army retreated. He went on the defensive when the enemy was trying to take away the promises God gave to the Israelites (the fruit of the Promised Land). He didn’t shrink back.

Remember your previous battles and recall how God delivered you. Let me encourage you to persevere in following God no matter how hard the circumstances of life may be at present. Let us be people who don’t shy away from believing the promises of God. Instead, we fight with the Word of God and persevere in prayer. Stand firm on the victory that Jesus has already won for us. We are on the winning side. When we are surrounded by the One who fights for us, there’s no room for retreating.

One day, you might find yourself reading the details of your own battles in the book where God records the victories of those who overcome. Don’t retreat, advance!

Scripture reference: 2 Samuel 23:8-12


Ellice Wong is a radiographer in Melbourne, Australia, and a new Write2Ignite blogger. She is passionate about writing devotionals to encourage and inspire people to seek God. Please visit her blog, Living Stones





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4 thoughts on “Don’t Retreat, Advance!

  1. Thanks for this reminder! I discuss David’s “mighty men” and include the account of Eleazar’s heroic stand in my book Combat! Spiritual Lessons from Military History (TouchPoint Press, 2020).

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