After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, where there is a garrison of the Philistines. 1 Samuel 10:5a
Scripture is packed full of hidden treasure waiting to be uncovered. I believe 1 Samuel 10:5 holds one of those valuable gems.
At first glance, it doesn’t seem to offer anything too extraordinary. I passed over it many times without much pause.
But my ESV Bible offers literal Hebrew translations to many significant words, and this time something stirred in me to check out the footnote. To my surprise, I read the following words.
Gibeath-elohim means the hill of God.
Let’s try inserting the meaning into the sentence.
After that you shall come to the hill of God, where there is a garrison of the Philistines.
Do you see it, dear one?
I’ll ask the question you should be asking. What in the world is a Philistine garrison doing on the hill of God?
Think it through a moment. A blaspheming enemy of God had been permitted to build a fortified stronghold on God’s property. Enemy troops were dwelling on God’s hill and oppressing God’s people.
How could this possibly happen? How could something that belongs to God come under the control of God’s enemy?
It only happens one way, beloved. The people of God allow it.
Perhaps you’ve believed that God’s possessions could never come under the oppressive rule of His enemy. Scripture disagrees.
In fact God repeatedly entreats His people to draw near and obey His voice so that He may bless them. He also warns of the consequences of neglecting to do so.
“But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you…The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies…” Deuteronomy 28:15, 25
I don’t know about you, but I find that thought unsettling. When God’s people don’t obey Him, He causes our enemies to defeat us.
I can’t help thinking of James 4:6.
“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
When we don’t choose to draw near and trust God’s voice, He actually opposes us. And the enemy gets to set up camp on God’s holy hill—with permission to oppress His people.
Isaiah 63:18-19 describes what people who have surrendered God’s ground to the enemy look like.
Your holy people held possession for a little while; our adversaries have trampled down your sanctuary. We have become like those over whom you have never ruled, like those who are not called by your name.
Do you see it, dear one? When the adversaries of God are allowed to trample His sanctuary—His dwelling place—the people of God resemble the rest of the world. They are just like those who don’t bear His Name.
Beloved, those words describe much of the present church.
Our wandering from the Word of God has allowed the enemy to set up camp in God’s dwelling place. We call ourselves by His name but bear no distinguishing mark of His presence. The same oppressor who has his way in the world is having his way in the lives of God’s people.
That shouldn’t be, dear one. The people of God should bear the mark of His hand upon us. His blessing should be evident to the world around us.
Do you want to experience the favor of God, dear one? Do you long to know the power of His anointing on your life?
Join Him in His purpose. Get the enemy off His ground by committing to obey His voice. Only then will we see God reveal Himself.
We’ve all experienced wonder at the stories of the Old Testament. We marvel at the miraculous defeat of a giant by a boy with a sling and a stone. We shake our heads at the idea of the fortified walls of Jericho crumbling at the shout of God’s people. We are amazed when considering Gideon’s band of 300 defeating an enemy of thousands.
One common denominator connects those miracles, beloved. Each time a child of God stood in faith to remove an enemy from God’s ground and establish the rightful place of God’s people.
None of God’s heroes were trained in warfare. They didn’t bring special expertise and experience. They simply chose to believe what God said. And their faith released the favor of God—the arm of God—to move on their behalf and accomplish His purpose.
We are desperate to see God move, but we’ve focused on the wrong things. We want God’s favor to promote our own agendas. But God’s favor falls when we join His.
Let’s obey God’s voice and get the enemy off His ground.