Hebrews 10:36 (NIV)
36 You need to persevere (have need of patience - KJV) so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
2 Samuel 23:9-10 (NIV)
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.
2 Samuel 23:12 (NIV)
12 But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory.
I love the listing of David’s mighty men in 2 Samuel, those who did amazing things in their devotion to David and his purpose. There is in the telling of Eleazar and Shammah’s feats what I believe to be insight into the kind of patience referred to in Hebrews. For each of them, when the rest of the Israelites had fled in retreat before the Philistines, they took up a patient position all alone. Though they were not moving back, but standing firm in their position, they also were not inactive in the least. Their stance was a very active one. Quite apart from merely standing and waiting for God to show up, they were wielding their weapons left and right, even when it surely looked like their efforts might ultimately be in vain. As all their fellow warriors were running away, they not only stood their ground, but continued to effectively take action against their foe. What I see to be an amazing result of their “patient” stance is that in both cases “The Lord brought about a great victory”. Their patient stance of ferocious activity made way for the triumph of God. Though God was surely able to bring about their victory, it was in the persistent and unyielding actions of His servants that His power would be imparted.
Far too often there is in the perception of patience an associated lack of activity. We need to just “stand” in faith, as if that means hiding out, somehow “believing” God is going to show up with deliverance eventually. This passage from Hebrews implies, though, that where there is belief in the will of God, there will be associated action requiring persistence in the face of fierce opposition. This action will be more along the lines of Eleazar’s and Shammah’s, taking it to the foe no matter how it looks or how many are standing there with you. At the end of the day it must have appeared that these mighty men were the ones inflicting all the damage, that they were in fact on offense rather than defense. Doing the will of God with regard to the battles that come our way on a daily basis will not be just sitting back waiting on Him to show up. No, doing His will with regard to our foe will be taking His words and using them as weapons, effectively striking the enemy down on every side. Along with these words will be corresponding actions that reflect a position of joyous victory. Instead of portraying an image of the embattled and nearly overwhelmed pawn hiding out in hopes of reinforcements, there is rather the image of Braveheart’s William Wallace in his bold stance before a formidable force.
It is in the patient stance of persistent action that God’s power is given access to the battlefield to ensure triumph and victory through our actions. Though it is not by our power or might, it is through our action that faith is given life by the Spirit. The mountain, the enemy, the daunting opposition will take its place with the Philistine as we take the patient stance of David’s mighty men.
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