“Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” – 2 Kings 6:16
The story of Elisha and his servant in 2 Kings 6 is a fascinating story. The king of Syria has been trying repeatedly to attack Israel’s armies by surprise and wipe them out, however, Elisha keeps getting word from God of the plans and helps Israel to avoid the attacks. The king of Syria is frustrated, and decides to send his army not against Israel, but against Elisha; his thought being that if he can remove Elisha then he can attack Israel. In the middle of the night, the army of Syria surrounds the city of Dothan (where Elisha is staying) and waits to attack. In the morning, Elisha’s servant sees the surrounding armies and cries out in fear, “master, what should we do? The city is surrounded by the horses and chariots of the enemy.” Elisha, however, is not afraid. “Do not fear,” he says, “for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Elisha then prays for the eyes of his servant to be opened, and they soon both see that the mountains are full of horses and chariots of fire. The army of the LORD is with them. Nothing can stand against them.
This is not an isolated story. The ongoing narrative of scripture points to a God who is always showing up when it seems the enemy is going to win, and then doing something that only God can do; always for the glory of God’s name.
Consider the Exodus story and the Red Sea. Israel had been rescued from slavery and oppression in Egypt. They should have known that God would protect them, however, they soon find themselves trapped between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army and start to fear. “Master, what should we do? The city is surrounded by the horses and chariots of the enemy.” Yet this is the moment when God appears. God sends a cloud to stand between the Israelites and the Egyptian army, disrupting the army’s approach. Then God spends the night blowing back the waters of the Sea, allowing Israel to escape on dry ground, reminding Israel “those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
Consider David and Goliath. The Philistines had long been an antagonist to Israel. They had a superior army, and could often defeat Israel at will. Goliath’s taunting is the perfect example of the ongoing story. A giant who has been a warrior from his youth. There is no one in Israel who can compete. Israel is just waiting to be defeated. “Master, what should we do? The city is surrounded by the horses and chariots of the enemy.” David, however, knows the truth. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” David attacks Goliath, not with sword and spear, but in the name of the LORD God of Israel. Goliath is defeated. Israel is saved.
Over and over again in scripture the narrative is the same. The situations and circumstances change, but the underlying message remains true. Do not fear the enemy you can see, instead put your faith in the God who is unseen. It may seem that the city is surrounded by the enemy, and that the horses and chariots of evil are threatening our very survival. However, we must always remember, those who are with us are more than those who are with them. God, open our eyes so that we may see and believe what the Holy Spirit can do.
This is not meant to be a motivational speech encouraging us to achieve the impossible. It is instead a reminder that God is always with us, because life has a way of knocking us down at times. Life has a way of surprising us, often when we think everything is good. We are planning a summer vacation, when we get the news of sickness. We are prepared for a promotion at work, when we discover our job is being eliminated. When life happens, it’s easy to lose faith, fearful of the enemy armies. But we must always remember, God is always with us, and God can defeat any enemy.
So what is our response? Our response is to pray. To pray for God to do something only God can do. To pray for the Holy Spirit to move in our own hearts, and in the world, to accomplish God’s glory. That doesn’t mean the outcome will necessarily be the outcome we desire. But it does keep our faith in the only one who is able to overcome the darkness.
Thus we pray like Paul, “to the one who is able to do more than we ask or imagine, to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen!” (Ephesians 3:20-21)