What to Do When Battles Become Lonely
Updated: Jun 4
The third in rank in David's fugitive army was a man called Shammah. He was one of David's famed mighty men. Ironically, Shammah gained notoriety for standing alone to defend a lentils farm.
Next in rank was Shammah son of Agee from Harar. One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils. The armies of Israel fled, but Shammah held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines. So the Lord brought about a great victory (2 Samuel 23:11-12, NLT).
There are a few things to quickly grab from that passage.
First, greatness does not depend on the size of the undertaking. It is so easy to disregard the power of small beginnings. But those small steps add up to something greater.
We live in a world that is increasingly polarised and marginalisation of minority groups is still happening, unfortunately. Shammah was a mountain dweller by ancestry. When the entire armies of Israel fled, no one would expect a guy from the mountains to stand in the middle of the lentils farm to defend it. But Shammah was a man for an unusual assignment in an unusual location.
You don't need to come from a place to do something great in the place. Being unfamiliar can certainly be an advantage if that helps you to bypass familiar but limiting cultural narratives.
Big battles on small grounds
Why would someone risk his life for a lentils farm? It could have been different if the ground had gold, diamond, or something more valuable than lentils.
Shammah knew what the rest of the army didn't know. He saw the lentils farm from a different lens.
Choosing what battles to fight is not about the size of the ground but the significance of the land itself. When you give up a small portion of ground because what is on it appears to be insignificant, the enemy would come for more the next day. You can give up the marriage but the enemy returns next time for your finances or the children. The enemy doesn't respect boundaries and doesn't fight fair.
The ability to discern what seemingly insignificant grounds to defend is what makes a true general.
How does a lentils farm become a battleground?
The lentils farm could represent livelihood, supply, or sustenance. It is a place that holds potential for harvest. The enemy loves to destroy harvests.
Sometimes, we give up our harvest too cheaply and carelessly. You've put in a lot of work, and now the harvest is almost ready. It's only fair for you to enjoy what you have laboured for all season long.
You are married for 20 years, and the enemy is beating drums of war to force you to abandon your ground. You need to stand in the middle of your field and tell the enemy to back off. It's too late to cede grounds now. You can't come this far only to lose the harvest.
Small grounds, big victories
In these last days, the enemy is ruthless. Small portions of truth and values that had kept the world sane are gradually being captured. The enemy is pushing the boundaries and the troops are beating a retreat.
But there would be some Shammahs standing in the middle of the field of lentils. This is the season where the lone voice will ring louder than the sound of a battalion. It’s a season of big victories on small grounds.
Many people will stand alone on different fronts. We should all encourage that. As individuals, families, businesses, and society, we should neither be afraid of standing alone nor ridicule those who choose to do so.
When we do stand, we must be mindful of not being resentful of those who choose to flee. We should all be humble and tolerant enough to acknowledge that everybody cannot stand on our grounds with us.
What would you do?
Our world needs people who would hold their grounds for the values that matter, without disrespecting those who don't stand with them.
When the enemy comes for your faith, peace, virtue, marriage, business, or anything that matters to you, I pray that you will have the wisdom to know why and where to stand.
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