In Judges 19.1 through 20.48 we find the account of a battle between the sons of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin. This battle was fought over a horrendous crime done to a woman by some of the tribe of Benjamin. We won’t get into the specifics of what happened because you can read it, but here is an important point.
The sons of Israel asked the Lord how to fight the battle, and they did what he asked and they were losing the battle at first. On the first attack they lost 22,000 men and on the second they lost 18,000. After inquiring again, they used the same tactics Joshua used and drew the sons of Benjamin away from the city, and men that were set in ambush attacked the city and it fell. The important point here is the Lord led them and they were losing at first, but they continued to follow the Lord’s instructions and won the battle (evidently, he had a controversy with both sides).
That is what we need to remember from this, sometimes the Lord will lead you but it may look like you are losing at first. But, if you know you are following what he said to do, keep going. It is important to keep in mind that at this point that in Israel there were 12 armies, not one.
The organization of units was on a tribal basis. Each tribe had their own slingers, archers and medium range weapons. We learn from 1 Chr 12.1-2 that Benjamin was known for being warriors and they were expert with the bow and with slings, both with the right hand and the left. David will reorganize the tribal armies into an army using these strengths from each tribe. Benjamin was also one of the smaller tribes, so they had to be tough warriors.
Another important battle is the battle in Aphek (1 Sam 4.1-22). This battle will be fought against the Philistines, and we have talked about the army of the Philistines and their weapons and strengths earlier. Israel was losing the battle because the Lord was judging Israel because of the sons of Eli and their wickedness (1 Sam 3.10-14) so they decided to bring up the Ark from the Mishkan in Shiloh.
The Philistines were intimidated at first, but fought Israel anyway and defeated them, capturing the Ark. The lesson here is an important one in spiritual warfare, and that is the use of “magic.” In the case of the Ark, which is separate to God, it has no power in itself. It’s power is in what it teaches. For instance, it is a type of the Messiah. God will protect the validity of what the Ark teaches (2 Sam 6.1-7) but you can’t use it as “magic.”
The reason why Israel lost this battle is found in 1 Sam 2.12-36 and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas. In Christianity and other religions, too, (but Christianity is the one that most readers can identify with) there is a tremendous amount of “magic” being practiced. What we mean by “magic” is the use of objects in thinking it will bring some sort of blessing or trying to manipulate the supernatural.
Crosses, holy water, statues in cars and in yards can be seen everywhere. But, you say, “Our church doesn’t believe in that sort of thing.” But, even in Protestant churches and interdenominational churches, the same thing is being done.
Holy “oil”, handkerchiefs, water from the Jordan or dirt from Israel is very popular. Many preachers believe in “seed” offerings, and we have even seen the Bible used in deliverance prayers, with people “rubbing” the Bible over inflicted areas or over a persons head. That’s magic, and if people keep this up they are going to end up in Aphek, losing the battle.
In Isa 1.12-15 we read about how the Lord says their offerings are worthless and he hates their new moon, Sabbath and festivals. Now, he ordained these things so he wasn’t against his own word, but he was against the attitude of the people, who then went through with their offerings, Sabbath’s and festivals. The capture of the Ark provokes the Lord, and he causes the Philistines to return it.
After this, Israel demands a king and is warned against it (1 Sam 8). God allows it and they search, and they find a tall, handsome man named Saul. He will be a type of Satan and the false messiah. Man looks at the “beauty of a man” but we know the Messiah was not like that (Isa 53.2). Absalom was handsome but he was opposed to the Lord and another picture of the false messiah. Saul is anointed king and is seen as the first Adam, while David is a picture of the Messiah.
In 1 Sam 11.1-15 Saul battles an Ammonite named Nachash, whose name means “serpent.” Saul will use the same tactics Gideon used, dividing his forces into three companies, and defeats Nachash. Israel wants to name Saul king, and this was seen as open rebellion against the Philistines. Saul quickly organizes the first select, regular professional army, which will serve as a holding force till the whole militia can be mustered in case of war. He will pursue David with this army. David will establish a very large army, very elite, stationed at Jerusalem. The “mighty men” will be his bodyguard, then there were special forces and then a trained, regular army.
So, at this point, the kingdom is changing from a “militia” to a modern army. The Philistines will be the main enemy of Saul and David, having spread out along the coastal region. Philistine cities were now built with massive stones, while Israel used little stones. The Philistine main force was based on the chariot, and the infantry had high caliber weapons. When we come to the story of David and Goliath (1 Sam 17.1-58), David knew he would win, but wasn’t presumptuous about it. Why did he know? Because he was directed by the Lord to do it.
Spiritually, we are going to have many “Goliaths” before us, but unless you are directed by the Lord, don’t run into a battle with them. There is a time and a season for everything. If Barak (Judges 4) had attacked in the winter or summer, he would have lost. But he took the battle to them during the spring rains, as the Lord told him. Once you have a message from the Lord to go forth into the battle, then “run” to it like David did (1 Sam 17.48).
David took a “stone” (another name for the Messiah-Dan 2.34-35) and struck his forehead (Gen 3.15; Judges 4.21; Judges 9.53; Num 24.17. Notice how the same theme is played out over and over again). After David kills Goliath, the Philistines turn and run, and do not become the servants of Israel as agreed (1 Sam 17.9). Israel doesn’t just stand around, they pursued and plundered them (17.52-53).
9Here are a couple of terms to know. The battle between David and Goliath was a duel. A fight between two champions was called a “ishbanayim” meaning “man (of combat) between two.” When you see the term “young men” used it is “ne’arim” in Hebrew and these were picked, elite forces. An army unit of 1000 men was called a “mishpochah” and its commander was called a “sar aluph” meaning “prince of a 1000.” A group of 50 was called a “chamushim” and this word relates to the five books of Moses called the “Chumash.”
At this point, we are entering the time of David. In 2 Sam 5 we have the conquest of Jerusalem. Joab enters the city through a water tunnel and defeats the city (2 Sam 5.6-10). A second account is in 1 Chr 11.4-7. In these accounts, there is a comparison between the lame and the blind and an attempt to strike fear in David’s men who virtually had them surrounded. David had to offer a reward for whoever would go up first.
Some interpreters say that this means that the blind and the lame are all they will need to defend the city. However, there is more to this. At the Hittite capital, a document was found. A ceremony was written down involving an oath by soldiers to the kings army. They offered allegiance to the king and these documents revealed what would happen should they break their oath.
In one ceremony, a priest would melt wax in front of the assembled troops. As it melted he would say “whoever breaks their oath, let that man’s vitality, vigor and future happiness be snuffed out.” One of the rituals was also described. A blind woman and a deaf man were paraded in front of the soldiers and said “see, here is a blind woman and a deaf man. Whoever does evil to the king or queen, let the oath seize him, let them make him blind, let them make him deaf. Let them blind him like a blind man. Let them deafen him like a deaf man, and annihilate the man himself, together with his wife and children.”
In light of this, here is what the Jebusites in Jerusalem were doing in 2 Sam 5.6-10. Unable to withstand David’s attack, they tried to deter him by stationing the lame and the blind on the wall near the gate and staging something similar to the Hittite ceremony, using the same ritual symbolism to strike fear in David’s men.
92 Sam 5.6 was probably an incomplete curse, probably being a curse’s beginning, and threatening anyone who laid a hand on the blind and the lame, and that they would drive David away. Apparently, their threatening curse had an effect on David’s men because he was prepared to offer a substantial reward (1 Chr 11.6) to any man who would rise first and go forward to strike the blind and the lame Jebusites. They need not fear the “magic.” Joab did, and was rewarded. Here is the application to all this in our spiritual warfare.
The children of Israel tried to use “magic” at Aphek to defeat the Philistines, and they lost the battle and the Ark was captured. Have you ever had a curse put on you, or magic thrown at you to defeat you? One thing we know for sure, and what you can count on, whatever it says in the Scriptures is what is certain. There is a sin unto death (1 John 5) because we see it in the Scriptures with Uzzah when he touched the Ark and was not supposed to, and Saul because he went to the witch at Endor, conjured up the dead and even ate with her, which was forbidden.
Much of what we see today in religious programming or churches is magic and it can be as deadly as the occult, in our opinion. The tragedy is, it works off the ignorance of the people, and “the Holy Spirit” has replaced the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit will join the believer to the Scriptures, not go against it. One does not replace the other, but you will have stability because you know what is “magic” and what is not.
Don’t pull an “Aphek” with the Scriptures, crosses, pictures or seed money. This is called “manipulating the supernatural” and the definition of witchcraft. Jerusalem was a Canaanite/Jebusite city, originally founded in idolatry and demons, defended by magic and occult practices. But the Lord chooses this place to put his name (Deut 12.11) and to put his throne on earth. It becomes the holiest city on earth.
There is one thing you do not see after David captures the city, and I think you would see it if it was important and we needed it. You don’t see any “exorcism” when David takes over the city. A building is a building and you don’t need to “cast out demons” from buildings or the city. You don’t see anyone going around and “taking dominion over” what was obviously a very pagan area. You don’t see anyone taking anointing oil and touching the buildings and “binding” the devil. What you don’t see are some of the current practices in Christianity today. We know of occasions where we have been contacted by people who wanted us to come to a house and put oil on it because they thought there were demons in it because of the previous occupants.
We just don’t see it in the Scriptures here because it was not needed, and if any place needed it, Jerusalem did, if the practice is valid. We will pick up here in Part 12 and begin discussing Jerusalem and how it is so unique, and then begin to discuss King David, warfare and his army.