Stand Your Ground

February 18, 2011 at 10:03 am | Posted in Biblical farming, Biblical Violence, Common Expressions | 13 Comments
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And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines. But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory.

II Samuel 23:11-12, emphasis added

This is one of the briefer battle scenes in the Bible, but it is one of my absolute favorites. It is found in a passage of Scripture where the Holy Spirit is giving an account of some of the heroic deeds of “David’s mighty men.” We don’t know all that much about Shammah, but he appears to have been a farmer as well as a warrior.

There he was one day, out in his field of lentils. When I originally taught this lesson in Sunday School, I called it “Shammah and His Pea Patch,” and, boy, did I pat myself on the back for being clever. However, a quick Google search reveals that I was not so original after all. Anyway, there he was, when suddenly some Philistines, who had “gathered together in a troop” showed up. We have three enemies in the Christian life: Satan, our flesh, and the world. If you find yourself under attack from any one of these you could be in for a long day, but there are many days when all three of these enemies gather themselves into a “troop” to concertedly attack you all at once. When that happens you may be in for a really long day!

Shammah’s name meant “astonishment,” and I would imagine that he was astonished, but his actions didn’t necessarily reveal it. The peas that Shammah was cultivating on the land that the Lord had given him were not for the Philistines. They were for Shammah’s family and the Israelite people. Imagine spending long hours and days and weeks toiling in the field, plowing, planting, watering, weeding, sweating, guarding, watching, praying, preparing to harvest, and then here comes the enemy trying to profit off your labor! We don’t know if the Philistines wanted these lentils to feed their own troops, or if they just wanted to destroy them to try to starve out God’s people. Either way Shammah was having none of it.

Notice that Shammah’s people fled, but he stayed to fight. There are going to be times when you have to stand alone for the Lord (which is only true in a sense, because He is still with you).

Notice that Shammah didn’t scheme and mince and devise some worldly battle plan. Nor did he try to compromise or negotiate. He took his stand “in the midst” of his field. Open to ambush from behind? Yes, he was. Subject to being surrounded? Sure. Without cover to help funnel his enemy into a more manageable position? You bet. But Shammah didn’t care. Enough was enough. This was the Lord’s pea patch, and Shammah would defend it or die trying!

The Bible says that Shammah defended his crop and slew the Philistines. The Bible also says that the Lord wrought a great victory. All glory must go to God when we stand on the ground that He has given us by the power of His might and defeat our enemies (who are also His enemies) by His strength.


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