Exodus 14:13, "And Moses said
unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD,
which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye
shall see them again no more for ever."
II Samuel 5:24, "And let it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself: for then shall the LORD go out before thee, to smite the host of the Philistines.
This morning, man continues to be an extreme creature. We are all prone, at times, to jump from ditch to ditch without spending much time on the solid and even road in between. Due to the pendulum nature of our minds, we can see the error in some past performance of ours and run away from it too fast to find an equally objectionable position on the other side. As the aged instructed me as a youth, "It doesn't matter if you're too far to the right or too far to the left. Either way, you're wrong." So true, and our theology must be sound, rightly divided, balanced, and strait to follow that course so beautifully trod by our High Priest. His hand never declined too far right or too far left. Rather, His face was set always like a flint to the correct path, the righteous work, and His actions all along His path corroborated His steadfastness.
How many times do we look for cure-alls in our world? People desiring to lose weight go to extreme measures by cutting out this or that to accomplish their purpose. Sometimes they wreak havoc on their system by attempting to keep a New Year's Resolution to lose XX pounds in X months. How many times do we look at Scriptures with the same mindset? What is the one verse that will tell me how to handle myself at all times in all situations? All too often, we find ourselves in diverse situations that merit us to behave ourselves wisely for that occasion. Perhaps, it is an occasion to speak or perhaps to keep silent. Perhaps we should build up by way of encouragement, or perhaps we should cast away by way of reproof. As Solomon so wisely stated, there is a time and place to everything under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3)
The two verses above show similar conclusions that were brought on by different commands. At the end of the day, the enemies of the people of God were destroyed. However, before that destruction of the enemy, they were told two different things. One says to "stand still," while the other declares to "bestir thyself." Truly, the two commands are polar opposites, and we hope to draw many different analogies out of them in the space that we have this morning. What is our course? What do we do? How do we know the time to which?
In the first account, Moses specifically tells the children of Israel that they had no part in what was going to happen but rather to stand still and behold what comes to pass. They are eventually, at this scene, delivered through the banks of the Red Sea on dry ground, and then to behold Pharaoh's host destroyed in the same Red Sea that they had passed through. Surely, the first point that we can draw from this is that we have no part in action but to behold the glory of God in the ultimate salvation away from our enemies. When Christ came, He delivered us from the mouth of all our foes: Satan, death, hell, the grave, and all others that we could name. By that same token, the tool of deliverance for us, God's family, is the same implement that destroys all those that sought for us. Christ vanquished Satan, destroyed the power of the grave, took the flames of hell from our account, and has promised that though these bodies die, we will be with Him forever. (John 14:1-6)
What have we to do to accomplish this great thing? Moses tells them to stand still. They have no part of executing this great work, and neither do we have an active part in executing God's magnificent economy of salvation unto His elect family. Does that mean we have no responsibilities in life? Are we now equipped to live in wanton violence, cruelty, and sinful pleasure? Are we to stand still at all seasons and never labour and work? While stillness should be our course to simply behold the wondrous beauty and majesty of God's work unto us (it should satisfy us), there are still barrels of work for us here that we should attend unto.
The second verse is a command given to David as he is going up to put the battle in array against the Philistines. David's command from God is to wait for the sound in the mulberry trees that indicates that God is moving with them and before them. When that blessed time arrives, David is not to delay but to immediately move and bestir himself to the battle at hand. So also we today have many battles that require fighting over and over again. How thankful we should be that our battles are against a defeated foe(s) that has lost the war because of Christ has done (as mentioned above). Yet, how vicious sometimes are those battles to fight!
Satan still throws his devices at us. Death is tugging at our doors, and is but a breath away. The fires of judgment plague us whenever we stray from the correct path that God would have us walk, but in all these battles, we must fight and strengthen ourselves to the battle. Notice that David was told to "bestir thyself." That word "bestir" means to be decisive and move in a quick and cutting way as a warrior would repel and wound his foe. In other words, David was not simply moving in motion, but rather, he was moving with the express purpose of behaving himself in a warrior-like fashion. This - in and of itself - should dispel the notion that David was a puppet of God, but the Lord expected him to conduct himself in a manly and honourable way.
So, we see that there is certainly a difference of place whenever we are contrasting the difference between our involvement of eternal or timely matters. When it comes to the eternal purpose of God in the salvation of His people, we cannot lift one finger to help Him, but our course should be to stand still and see the salvation of our God with wonder, awe, and appreciation. When it comes to the timely decisions and choices that we must make, we must heed the direction of the Spirit to go in paths of righteousness so that we conduct ourselves as honourable children of God: disciples of Christ.
However, let us also contrast another corollary between these two scenes. It is clear that movement is required for our daily battles while stillness is the course for the eternal war that God victoriously won with great splendour. But, what about daily life? Do we sometimes need to stand still in daily decisions? Indeed we do. Consider what David was doing before he heard the sound of the going in the tops of the mulberry trees. He, no doubt, was standing still and waiting for the time when he should bestir himself. Whenever we have not been given the direction and inclination that the time is upon us, the last thing we should be doing is going about in activities that come to no profit.
What if David had been sporting all day before the battle? Perhaps his energies would not have been what they should have been for the battle at hand. Doubtless, he prepared himself to the battle. But, once preparations had been made, it was time to wait upon the Lord. (Isaiah 40:31) Whenever we have not been given the "word" that it is time to move into battle, we should be found in stillness beholding the salvation of the Lord. What should our quiet times be focused upon? How should our thoughts revolve when sitting in pensive contemplation and meditation? There is no greater thing to contemplate than the salvation of the Lord. Our contemplation does not make it real, but our beholding it as the Bible tells us it really took place provides not only the preparation for the battle at hand but a keener sense of awareness when the "going" begins for our daily conflicts.
Perhaps we are faced with life-changing decisions that we have not yet been given the answers to and are waiting for the Lord's movement and inclination. What should we ponder? Truly, the wonder of God's salvation will fill the time quite nicely with immense communion with our God. By having this fellowship with Him, we will certainly understand His direction more quickly than if our minds are filled with the sport of this world.
Finally, when that word comes and the movement of His Spirit is felt in our lives, we must understand that He expects us to conduct ourselves valiantly, but with the understanding that He goes before us. II Samuel 5:24 speaks of the Lord smiting the Philistines, while verse 25 speaks of David smiting the Philistines. There were times that God aided His people in battle by throwing down great hailstones from heaven. (Joshua 10:11) We are not given those details to this battle, but rest assured dear friends that when we move by His direction at the time appointed, He goes before us and aids in our battles. We must certainly fight a good fight in our own person, but the gentle breeze of God to our souls can be a mighty wind of destruction on our foes. May our thoughts draw closer to His, concentrate more deeply and consistently on what He has done for us, and move at the right time in the right way as He would have us go. When these things happen, we will ascribe greatness unto our God, honour Him in our efforts, and avoid the extreme ditches of life that come from seeking the same action to every circumstance.