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Bean Field Religion

Shammah the Hararite, the son of Agee, one of the three of the thirty men of valor of David’s inner circle of warriors, somehow found himself in a field of lintels facing down a Philistine force. All of the other Israelites had fled. The odds were not good.


The record states that Shammah set himself in the middle of the field and defended a site with no strategic value. It doesn’t state the size of the Philistine force in 2 Samuel 23; it simply records that all of the Philistines in that troop were defeated, however many they were.


The Philistines had given up on God a long time before this event happened. And while they weren’t one of the seven nations that Israel was told they must totally destroy, their lands were to be possessed by them and the people displaced. From the song of Moses recorded in Exodus 15: “The people will hear and be afraid; sorrow will take hold of the inhabitants of Philistia. Then the chiefs of Edom will be dismayed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling will take hold of them; all the inhabitants of Canaan will melt away. Fear and dread will fall on them; by the greatness of Your arm they will be as still as a stone, till Your people pass over, O Lord, till the people pass over whom You have purchased.” (14-16).


That was their punishment for turning away from God: displacement, upheaval, and terror. So God after a while gave the Philistines up to be on their own, without God and his care in this world. He turned his back to them after they had first turned their backs on him.


“And I will set your bounds from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the River. For I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you.” (Exodus 23:31). That did not mean the Israelites could sit in the shade taking their leisure, and wait for God to do the messy work, get things done, give them the keys, so that they could then march in and take over. It would take faith, work and sacrifice; it would take their lives and the lives of many of their children, and there would be twists and turns, as they alternately also either served God or chose to ignore him. But the end would be as God said, if they remained true and sought out his will and served him. 


That this form of judgment took a long time and at times didn’t seem that it would ever work didn’t much matter. It did work; just as God had said. The Philistines eventually were no longer able to be a problem to Israel or to anyone else. The Romans eventually destroyed them, and there are no Philistines around today.


Whether we much like the methodology and approve of it or not, doesn’t matter. Shammah was a part of the judgment of God that day in that bean field. I suspect he didn’t know it and that he didn’t ponder the ins-and-outs of it all while staring down the intruders. The thought probably never entered his mind. 


He stood his ground, served his master, and performed his duty in protection of his people and his king. He did God’s will. The record states, “And the Lord brought about a great victory.” It seems God was on Shammah’s side that day, and that can only mean that Shammah was first on God’s side.


Imagine how short the whole business would have been and how many lives would have been spared if Israel’s faith had remained like Shammah’s throughout and they had never wavered or wandered off?

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