And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel. (1 Samuel 7:10 KJV)
During our Bible reading time today, Auni and I read 1 Samuel 7. This is the thrilling story of how the Israelites defeated the Philistines and Samuel became their judge. Well, during the reading, we came across the verse quoted above. I snickered at the word “discomfited” for I had honestly never heard that word before. But because I had found that one silly word, God led me to some thoughts about Himself that made me smile.
The ESV, which I was reading from as I was doing my more in-depth study of the passage, renders 1 Samuel 7:10 this way:
As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But the LORD thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were routed before Israel. (1 Samuel 7:10 ESV)
If you’ve ever read 1 Samuel, you’ll recall that, early in the book, Hannah makes the statement,
[The Lord] guards the steps of His faithful ones, but the wicked are silenced in darkness, for a man does not prevail by his own strength. Those who oppose the LORD will be shattered; He will thunder in the heavens against them. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth. He will give power to His king; He will lift up the horn of His anointed. (1 Samuel 2:9-10 HCSB)
So the Philistines being “discomfited” was all a part of God’s divine plan. The Philistines being thrown into confusion was not something that happened simply in the “permissive” will of God. No. The Philistines confusion is something that happened in the “perfect” will of God.
God still does things the same way today. Recall the gospel of Matthew.
Then the disciples came up and asked Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered them, “Because the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given for you to know, but it has not been given to them. (Matthew 13:10-11 HCSB)
Or what about the words of Paul?
For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached. (1 Corinthians 1:21 HCSB)
You see, our understanding of the gospel is not something that we acheived on our own or in our own strength. And our overcoming in trials and temptations is not something that we made to come about on our own. We don’t make it through stuff on our own. We can only do so through the strength that God gives us.
I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 HCSB)
But those who are of the world, those who are not God’s chosen people, will never overcome anything. And the Philistines proved this. They went after God’s chosen people in their own strength by their own power and all it afforded them was confusion and beng “smitten before Israel”.
God is in control of all things, even of when we as His people are being attacked. He is sovereignly moving all things and working all things out. God is in control of it all.
Earlier in history than 1 Samuel, in the book of Judges, we find this:
The LORD threw Sisera, all his charioteers, and all his army into confusion with the sword before Barak. Sisera left his chariot and fled on foot. (Judges 4:15 HCSB)
When God’s people are repentant of their sin and are working consciously for His glory, He is on their side. He is protecting them. By our own strength we will never prevail. And as for our enemies…
“Human strength is of little consequence when the Lord decides to act.” (The Reformation Study Bible ESV. Ligonier Ministries. 2005 Pg. 387)
Let us rest securely in the sovereignty of our God.