He Goes Before You

He Goes Before You

The Philistines abandoned their idols there…Once more the Philistines came up and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; so David inquired of the LORD, and he answered, “…the LORD has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.”  (2 Samuel 5:21–24)

Because these verses are just a summary of two battles between the Israelites and the Philistines, it’s easy to miss the subtle, poetic contrast here.  Notice—the Philistine soldiers had to carry their gods with them into battle, lifeless idols of wood and stone that had to be faced in the direction of the fighting to “support” their men.  Then the soldiers had to lug their gods back to camp.  By contrast, the LORD went before the Israelite army to rout their enemies.  They didn’t lug their God along; they followed his mighty train and merely mopped up the detritus left by fleeing soldiers.

Not many of us modern folk carry wooden idols into the boardroom, the classroom, or the bedroom to bless our battles.  But we often lug around diplomas, pay stubs, and thumbs-up emojis to prove our value, to comfort us, or to boost our sense of security.

The problem with these worthless idols is that don’t go before you; you must carry them in and out of the battles of life.  You must keep holding them up lest they topple in the tumult of war.  They don’t love you; in fact, they could care less whether you live or die.

But the Lord Jesus goes before you.  First, he went before you to perfectly execute God’s marching orders as your substitute.  Next, he went before you to absorb the cannonball of punishment you deserved.  Then, he went before you into valley of death and climbed out victorious on the other side.

Now, he goes before you into every battle with the Accuser.  He goes before you to pray on your behalf.  He goes before you to prepare hearts to receive the message of hope you share.  He goes before you into every struggle to strengthen you through his unfailing promises.  He goes before you to prepare people to bless you and be blessed by you.  He goes before you to prepare a place for your eternal rest.  He is already in tomorrow, always preparing the way.

You aren’t carrying him; he’s carrying you.

Prayer:  Lord, the gods I look to have failed me, and they always will.  They don’t love me, but you do.  Thank you for going before me into every battle.  Carry me, Lord.  Amen.