“Because They Relied On the Lord”

Posted on January 30, 2020


By David Ettinger

The nation of Israel had split into two kingdoms: the Southern, consisting of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and the much larger Northern, consisting of the 10 other tribes.

There was friction between the two since the beginning, and it culminated when they met on the battlefield. Strategically, the Northern Kingdom dominated: “Abijah [king of the South] went into battle with an army of 400,000 able fighting men, and Jeroboam [king of the North] drew up a battle line against him with 800,000 able troops” (2 Chronicles 18:3).

The Northern Kingdom outnumbered the Southern Kingdom 2-to-1; this war had the makings of a rout.

Unexpected Outcome
Things began terribly for the South. As King Abijah was delivering a long-winded speech – reprimanding the North for turning away from God – “Jeroboam had sent troops around to the rear, so that while he was in front of Judah the ambush was behind them. Judah turned and saw that they were being attacked at both front and rear” (vv. 13-14).

Rather than panic, however, the Southern Kingdom chose a much more spiritual means of counter-attack as “they cried out to the Lord.” (v. 14). It proved the best war strategy of all:

At the sound of their battle cry, God routed Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. The Israelites fled before Judah, and God delivered them into their hands. Abijah and his troops inflicted heavy losses on them, so that there were 500,000 casualties among Israel’s able men (vv. 14-17).

We then read this analysis: “The Israelites were subdued on that occasion, and the people of Judah were victorious because they relied on the Lord, the God of their ancestors” (v. 18).

An “Etched” Verse
This verse should be etched into the heart and mind of every believer. The Southern Kingdom did not win the battle because it was more gifted or powerful. Rather, they had placed their hope and faith in God, and He delivered the victory for them.

How many times have we turned inward during the difficult challenges of life and relied solely on our own attributes? And how many times have we made a terrible mess of everything? Me and you both!

I can think back to my early years as a believer. I had come to Christ in 1986 at age 28 right after my divorce. My ex-wife Barb and I had shared-custody of our only son, Aaron, who was 3 when the marriage ended.

Two years later Barb married a man with an excellent job, and they purchased a beautiful home. I, however, did not make much as a journalist, and lived in a one-bedroom apartment. I knew that if Barb and I ever had to fight for custody, I would have been routed in court!

Though by nature I was a fighter, I knew I could not win a parental battle. Instead, I committed our shared-custody situation to the Lord with tears and prayer – and He delivered. Living just three miles apart, Barb and I raised Aaron as a team, and never once in the next 15 years did a single legal issue arise. Furthermore, Barb and Jim would have a son and a daughter, and though they weren’t mine, I came to love them as my own – with Barb’s blessings.

I Relied on the Lord
Just like the Southern Kingdom, I relied on the Lord entirely, and He delivered to me a momentous victory – peace with my ex-spouse which is still thriving 34 years later!

As believers, when in the fiercest of battles let’s take a page out of the Southern Kingdom’s “playbook” by relying on the Lord and letting Him steer the battle!