2 Samuel 23:9-10
9 Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim for battle. Then the Israelites retreated, 10 but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead. NIV
In one of the earlier blog entries entitled, “They,” we see Eleazar mentioned. He is by no means an unsung hero; he is one of King David’s Three Mighty Men. But in these two verses of 2 Samuel, I believe there is an incredible lesson we need to learn.
Eleazar was a warrior. He was trained to be a combatant, and he did it well. If not he would have never attained to be one of David’s Mighty Men. In this particular battle against the Philistines, Israel was not gaining victory, so the Scripture says, “…the Israelites retreated.”
Was it because of fatigue…fear…self-preservation? We are not told why, but regardless of the reason, they removed themselves from the battlefield even though there still was an enemy and a battle that needed to be fought. But Eleazar didn’t retreat. He “stood his ground.” He was like a single stalk of corn in the midst of a swarm of locusts about to be devoured. All he knew was that he was supposed to fight. So he did even though he was one among thousands of enemies. And he fought, and he fought hard…so hard that when the battle was over, he couldn’t even loosen his grip to let go of his sword.
What a picture of trust and determination. All the others had abandoned the battlefield, but Eleazar would not. His trust was in the God of Israel who could even cause the sun to stand still so His people would prevail. (Joshua 10:13)
It reminds me of the verse that says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” The answer to the question might surprise you, but this is how I interpret it. An entire army can be against you, but they are trumped by the fact that a God is for you!
But what’s up with the part of the verse that says, “…his hand grew tired and froze to the sword?” What can that mean? There can be a reason physiologically. If a person exerts himself in extreme physical activity, there is not enough oxygen flow to break down glucose and glycogen causing a build-up of lactic acid which then causes fatigue and muscle cramps. Lactic acidosis build-up also causes soreness and pain in the muscles.
Though Eleazar trusted God, he still gave his all in the battle. Though God’s help was the obvious reason for the victory, Eleazar, still persevered through fatigue, pain, and muscle cramping – even to the point where afterwards his cramped muscles could not release his sword.
This story reminds me of how although we need to trust God even in the most difficult of times, we still have our part to play. Paul writes in Ephesians 6:13-14, “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. Stand therefore…” But too many lay down in the evil day.
Men, God may be our sword and shield, but He still expects us to pick them up and fight!
Jude 3… “contend for the faith.”
2 Timothy 2:3… “endure hardness as a good soldier.”
James 1:12… “blessed is the one who perseveres under trial.”
When life gets tough, let’s not be afraid of lactic acid build-up, rather let’s fight with a ferocity that causes it to build up. Pain does not last forever, but victory is always sweet!
“For if God be on our side, what matter maketh it who be against us, be they bishops, cardinals, popes, or whatsoever names they will?”
– William Tyndale