By Calvin R. Schlabach
Among the mighty warriors in King David’s army, was a man named Eleazar, who was one of “The Three” who were renowned for courage and valor in battle. His bravery is demonstrated in a story told in 2 Samuel 23:9-10. There we read that when Israel’s army was confronted by a force of Philistines, all the soldiers fled all, that is, except Eleazar. He alone stood his ground and fought the enemy single-handedly. The sacred record says he “struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword” (NIV).
His hand froze to the sword! Even in his weariness, when the battle must have seemed hopeless, Eleazar’s hand instinctively clung to his sword and would not let go! Therefore, the account says, “The Lord brought about a great victory that day.
Friends, is there not a lesson in this for you and me? Obviously, we are not engaged in carnal warfare, as he was. Instead, God has armed us with “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17). While there are many in the church today who are quick to throw down this sword and flee, we need to cling to it and not let go, our hands frozen to the sword!
We need to cling to the sword of the Spirit in our personal lives. In our interpersonal relationships with our families, on our jobs, in school, and in the decisions that we make from day to day, we need to seek God’s guidance. I fear too many of us already have our minds made up based on what everyone else is doing, or what we have always done, or have always “felt” was the right thing to do, and we never stop to ask, “what does the Bible say about this?”
There never comes a time in a Christian’s life when he can lay aside his Bible, thinking, “I already know it all” or “I don’t need that any longer.” The command to every Christian, all Christians both young and old, is to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). We need to be constantly studying God’s truth, and asking, “How does his word (not my opinions) apply to this situation?” May our hands be frozen to the sword for guidance in our lives!
Should we not also cling to the sword of the Spirit when seeking guidance for the churches of which we are members? We all know the tragedy of churches, even churches of Christ, laying aside the Book, and operating without God’s guidance, relying instead on tradition or their own faulty human wisdom. Their departure from God’s pattern is swift and usually irreversible, resulting in their “lamp stand” being removed (Rev. 2:5).
Are we in danger of going that way in the congregation I belong to? Think about it. In our work and the way we carry it out, our organization, our doctrine, do we rely more on God’s word, or on what we have always done in the past? Do we seek the guidance of God or of other churches? Do we ask for book, chapter, and verse or for what the magazine, the colleges, and the big meeting preachers are saying?
If we are going to be “a New Testament church,” then we need to guided by the New Testament and by that alone. Let’s make certain that we grasp the sword firmly in our hands and never lay it aside when we seek guidance for the church!
Let us also cling to the sword God has given us when we are seeking to convert others to Christ. We say that “the gospel . . . is the power of God for salvation” (Rom. 1:16), and so let’s use it. We may be able to open doors with kindness and friendship, but it is not until the word of God is taught that souls can be saved.
All of the human reasoning and good arguments that we can think of will never be as powerful as a “thus saith the Lord!” Let’s familiarize ourselves with the sword of the Spirit, become proficient in its use, and then employ it in the battle for men’s souls! Nothing else will ever win them for the Lord!
When Eleazar’s hand froze to the sword, God gave Israel a great victory. We will never have our victory over sin and the Evil One until the sword is grasped firmly in our hands and we bravely stand our ground!
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 17, p. 527
September 6, 1990