The Philistines are a constant nuisance and danger to the people of God. Why is that?
The Philistines were an ancient people, listed in the records of those who descended from Noah’s son, Ham, after the time of the flood (Genesis 10:14). But it was during the time of the Exodus that the Lord promised that the land of Israel would include the territory of the Philistines (Exodus 23:31). This promise meant that some kind of conflict would have to take place for Israel to displace the Philistines.
When Joshua was old, he mentioned the land of the Philistines as one of the areas that still remained to be defeated by Israel (Joshua 13:1–3). Because the Philistines were not completely removed, Israel faced them as perennial enemies.
The conflict between the two countries comes to a head in 1 Samuel.
In 1 Samuel 4, the Philistines defeated the people of God. Israel illicitly brought out the ark to the battlefield, and Israel was decimated.
In 1 Samuel 7, the people of God defeated the Philistines. “The LORD thundered loudly against the Philistines that day and threw them into such confusion that they fled before Israel” (7:10)
In 1 Samuel 13, the Philistines defeated Israel. Saul asks Samuel to offer a sacrifice. When it takes Samuel 7 days to get there, Saul offers an unbiblical sacrifice.
In 1 Samuel 14, Saul’s son, Jonathan defeats the Philistine’s, but because Saul said no one was allowed to eat until the Philistines were defeated, the whole battle falls apart and the Philistines are not entirely wiped out.
And of course, all of this comes to a head in 1 Samuel 17, the Philistines send Goliath, their champion, to find the champion of Israel. David steps forward and defeats Goliath.
Biblically, this conflict goes on and on and on. The basis of the conflict between Israel and the Philistines is that Israel advanced into Philistine territory and took their land and that conflict always goes back and forth.
So now in the New Testament, we don’t live in the context of taking physical property on behalf the kingdom of God. But in the New Testament context in the light of Jesus in the arrival of the kingdom of God that he brings there still is territory for the Christian to take it is only spiritual.
Ephesians 6: 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
That means that you are constantly called to advance and take spiritual territory for the kingdom of God in this world, and that means that if you live that out you will be constantly hated by the world.
If your expression of Christianity in the proclaiming of Jesus Christ is not putting you in some conflict with the world that is the equivalent of an Israelite soldier who just doesn’t go into battle. It doesn’t mean that the world doesn’t hate you, it just means that the world can’t distinguish you as a representative of the kingdom of God
But, so many years later, Paul understood the struggle of being a good soldier of Christ. There are so many challenges and potential distractions. He prays against them, and he asked others to pray for him as well. In that, we see our hope (and a slight nod to David as well).
2 Timothy 2: 2 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. 3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. 8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel.
May the Lord bless you and make you strong for the battle at hand.
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