Tuesday, August 30: Deuteronomy 20- Who gets honor for the victory?.

The response of the officers to battle is a strange one. Tactically you want the largest army you can muster. Strength in numbers, especially in hand-to-hand combat wars, is a clear advantage. And yet we read:

The officers shall say to the army: “Has anyone built a new house and not yet begun to live in it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else may begin to live in it. Has anyone planted a vineyard and not begun to enjoy it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else enjoy it. Has anyone become pledged to a woman and not married her? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else marry her.” Then the officers shall add, “Is anyone afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his fellow soldiers will not become disheartened too.”

Stop and think for a moment, build a new house and you get to go home. Plant a vineyard and not yet enjoyed its fruit (about 3 years), go home. Remember this is a farming culture. Engaged to be married, go home. Scared and fainthearted, go home. I have no idea what percentage of able bodied soldiers this would add up to be but I imagine it is a significant percentage and it includes the younger most able bodied men at that.

What’s the deal? I suspect there is a psychological component to keep the distracted men off the battle lines where their distraction can negatively influence others.

But even more so, the Lord seems to be in the habit of whittling down the Israelite forces (remember Gideon) so that the Lord gets the honor and glory for the battle victory not Israel itself. This is why David’s counting of the fighting men was so heinous. Knowing ‘his’ strength would lead to vain glory and trust in self rather than the Lord.

God’s whisper to me… the Lord is why I succeed in life and in work. This truth is not meant to undermine hard work and thoughtful actions; I am to bring all I am and all the gifts and abilities I have and place them at God’s disposal. But ultimately success is in God’s hands. Not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6)

I have been reading about WWII lately and certainly the United States entry into the war was a massive advantage, but the number of battles won by a turn of fate here or there is astounding... these belong to the Lord…

Again, not by might… but by the Lord… victories are won and successes are gained.

Think about it…

Lord, keep me mindful that You deserve all praise and honor. Whatever “I” have gained in this world, You are the giver of these good gifts. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


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