“Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the LORD do that which is good in his sight” (I Chronicles 19:13).
Joab, captain of the host, has led the mighty men of Israel against the royal city of Rabbah of Ammon. They have come in the name and at the command of David, their king. The Ammonites have gathered to fight in front of the gates of the fortified city. Joab and his host set themselves to do battle.
Yet what is this noise behind? Sounds of feet marching, of hoof beats, and the jostling of chariot wheels? The men of Israel look over their shoulders and take in the scene. A huge multitude gathers in the field at their rear, not only footmen, but cavalry also, and 32,000 chariots! It is a highly trained mercenary army from Syria hired by the children of Ammon to be sure of victory. It seems as if they will be crushed between the two forces.
The army of Israel, so far from home, has no chance of gaining reinforcements or aid. In the face of such numbers and in a grossly disadvantaged position, what can they do? It is enough to make the stoutest heart hesitate, falter.
Seeing that the battle is set against him before and behind, Joab has a decision to make. Retreat? Make an attack on one side or another, leaving their flank exposed? Surrender? Sue for peace?
The captain of the host swiftly gives orders. He reorganizes his army into two, and gives the command of the second division into the hand of Abishai his brother. The two armies must turn to face the enemy at hand—Abishai’s men fighting the Ammonites, while Joab’s men take on the Syrians. This way they will have each other’s back. The brothers agree each to send word if one needs help, and pledge to give aid when needed.
Before they turn away to attack the enemy Joab gives this charge to his brother. “Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the LORD do that which is good in his sight.” They throw themselves into the fray, trusting in their God, and the LORD grants them the victory.
As believers, we also face a war. It is not one against flesh and blood, but instead for the souls of lost people. Our King, the LORD Jesus Christ, has sent us to preach the Gospel that sinners may come to know Him and be saved from sin and Satan’s bondage. He has provided us with armour and a SWORD LIKE NONE OTHER–the quick and powerful word of God–the Bible.
It must be recognized that the enemy does not play fair, and when we set out to share our faith, we find not only the adversary, the devil, endeavoring to tempt and dissuade us, but also the world system, which presses us to compromise and to be silent. And the flesh itself provides yet another foe, causing us to fear man and shrink from the task.
In the face of all this opposition, let us not lose heart. Do we not have the LORD of all creation as the Captain of our Salvation? Has He not promised to be with us? Are we not more than conquerors through Jesus Christ? He who redeemed us by His blood, He who commissioned us for service, can He not use us?
Let us then as brethren encourage one another. Let us be vigilant to watch each other’s back. Let us be swift to pray; swift to ask for help; swift to give aid! We must consider Whom we serve and be valiant in battle for the kingdom of our God. Let us do our duty and trust the Lord Almighty with the results. Souls are heading to destruction. Let us lift up our voices and speak the words of our Saviour: “Be ye reconciled to God! Repent and believe the Gospel!”
And may we, as Joab, shout over the noise of battle to our fellow believers in the fight: “Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the LORD do that which is good in his sight.”