Stand Your Ground

Man standing on mountain

Now after him was Shammah the son of Agee a Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered into a troop where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the people fled from the Philistines. But he took his stand in the midst of the plot, defended it and struck the Philistines; and the Lord brought about a great victory” (2 Samuel 23:11-12).

The passage above describes the valiant efforts of Shammah, one of King David’s “mighty men” (2 Samuel 23:8).* The notable event recorded about him was his defense of a piece of farmland. He “took his stand” and refused to back down, even though he had to fight alone. Of course, he was not truly alone even though “the people fled.” The text makes it clear that “the Lord brought about a great victory” on that day, but he had to be willing to stand his ground and fight.

What is interesting about this passage is that there is no indication given as to the location of this plot of ground. There is no mention of who owned it, what city was nearby, or the region in which it was located. The only information that is given about this land, besides what was grown there, was the fact that the Philistines had gathered in that place to fight. Because the enemy was there, that was the place where Shammah took his stand to fight.

As we apply this to our lives as Christians today, we first need to remember that we are in the midst of a spiritual war. Paul explained this to the church in Ephesus:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:12-13).

We are to put on “the full armor of God” because the ways of God are under attack. This is not a struggle “against flesh and blood.” As Paul told the brethren in Corinth, “We do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). This is a battle between good and evil, a struggle to determine the difference between right and wrong, and a contest between the truth of God and the lies of Satan. We must be prepared to fight this battle.

As we fight, we must stand our ground. Where do we take our stand? Like Shammah, one of David’s mighty men, we need to stand up and fight wherever the enemy has gathered to attack. Consider what Paul wrote to the Galatians:

But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you” (Galatians 2:3-5).

During the time when Paul was writing this letter, there were many who were trying to compel Gentiles to be circumcised in order to follow Christ. Yet circumcision was a practice from the old covenant that had been taken out of the way as a religious requirement (cf. Colossians 2:14). He told these brethren later in the epistle, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working though love” (Galatians 5:6). Yet some wanted to bind circumcision, so Paul opposed them. He refused to compromise; instead, he took his stand on what was right.

The attacks against the gospel today are often a little different than what Paul described in the passage above. In the case of circumcision, there were some who were wanting to add requirements to the gospel and make it more difficult to obey. That sometimes happens today, but it is not the most common attack we see.

Most of the time, the attacks we see today are from those who want to undermine the gospel. They will claim the Bible is outdated, uninspired, and not fit for our modern culture. They will charge faithful Christians as being bigoted or hateful for simply affirming what the Bible teaches. They will assault the concept of God and make themselves into their own “gods,” defining themselves according to their own desires and labeling their own opinions as “truth.” We see these attacks come in the form of secularism, humanism, Marxism, transgenderism, and more. As Paul warned, these attacks will come from “rulers,” “powers,” and “world forces” (Ephesians 6:12), as well as those who have been deceived by them.

Our world is moving further and further away from the truth of God’s word. Society continues to drift from a basic understanding of a Biblical world view. Because of this, the truth of the gospel will be attacked. Where do we take our stand? Wherever the enemy is coming against us.

Paul took his stand against the requirement of circumcision because that was the issue that was being pressed at that time. While we must still oppose the binding of circumcision as a religious requirement, that is usually not an issue we face today. But we do have many who want to change the definition of marriage, alter what it means to be male or female, use the power of civil government to enslave men, and make the ever-changing standards of society the rule for us to follow. These are where the attacks are coming today. We need to put on the armor of God and be ready to fight.

Paul explained the reason why he refused to back down: “So that the truth of the gospel would remain with you” (Galatians 2:5). If he was to compromise on the issue of circumcision, the foundation of truth upon which they stood would start to crumble under their feet. The same is true today. If we compromise on the issues prevalent in our modern society (homosexuality, transgenderism, Marxism, secularism, humanism, etc.), the foundation of truth upon which we and others stand will start to crumble. We need the truth; therefore, we need to defend it against every attack.

So let us stand our ground and do all that we can to prevent sin and error from infiltrating the church and further corrupting the world around us. We cannot fight every battle, but we can take a stand where we are against whatever attack comes our way.


* For more on these distinguished warriors, see the article: David’s Mighty Men

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