If your people go out to battle against their enemy, by whatever way you shall send them, and they pray to the Lord toward the city that you have chosen and the house that I have built for your name, then hear in heaven their prayer and their plea, and maintain their cause. – 1 Kings 8:44-45 ESV
1 Kings 8:22-53
Solomon and the people of Israel were enjoying a time of unprecedented peace and tranquility. Unlike his father David, Solomon was not faced with the constant threat of war or incursions by the Philistines. God had blessed his reign and allowed him to enjoy a time of national prosperity and protection from warfare. But Solomon wasn’t naive. He knew that war was always a real possibility because the Israelites were still surrounded by nations that considered them their enemy. The threat of being attacked was a constant part of their lives. But there was also the distinct possibility that God could lead them into battle. The time could come when God ordained that they take the battle to their enemies, “by whatever way you shall send them.” And if that time came, Solomon knew that the key to victory would be tied to God’s divine assistance. Solomon had been raised by David and no doubt had heard the stories of David’s many victories. His father had probably told him the story of his victory over the giant, Goliath, many times. It was on that occasion that David had boldly proclaimed to his over-sized enemy, “For the battle is the Lord‘s, and he will give you into our hand” (1 Samuel 17:47 ESV). David had ended up defeating Goliath and had gone on to have an illustrious military career, thanks to God’s power and presence in his life.
While Solomon did not have the kind of military experience his father had, he did know that what set Israel apart was their dependence upon God for all their needs – including victory against their enemies. He knew that a God-ordained military campaign without God’s help was doomed to failure. Doing what God calls you to do, but in your own strength, will not work. Attempting to accomplish God’s will without God’s power misses the whole point. God wants to direct, but He also wants to empower. So Solomon prayed that when the time came for God’s people to go into battle, and they turned to Him for help, that He would hear them and provide them with victory. Warfare is always a distinct possibility for the child of God. The enemies of God are many and the time may come when God calls us to go into battle. When that time comes, we must turn to the Lord. We must always remember that the battle is His. Victory or defeat will not be based on our personal strength, but on God’s divine power. Attempting to fight the enemies of God without His help will always lead to defeat. We must turn to Him. We must rely on Him. And while today we may not face physical foes and flesh-and-blood enemies, the battle is just as real. Paul reminds us, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:12-13 ESV). Notice that Paul challenges us to take up “the whole armor of God.” He goes on to describe the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit and the shoes of the gospel of peace. These all come from God. They are the armor that He provides. We are to fight, surrounded by His means of protection and equipped with His weapons of warfare, and “praying at all times in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18 ESV).
Wearing God’s armor and waiting on God’s power. That is to be the stance of the child of God. The battles will come. The enemies will come against us. But our God is great and His power is unmatchable. We can face any foe with confidence and boldness, knowing that our God fights for us. The battle is His. We must believe that when God’s children call out to Him, He will “hear in heaven their prayer and their plea, and maintain their cause.” He will do what only He can do. He will provide the victory. But we must pray. We must depend. We must wait. We must believe that He will deliver – faithfully.