From Praying the Names of God Week Thirteen, Day One
The Lord of Hosts is a title that emphasizes God’s rule over every other power in the material and spiritual universe. When Scripture speaks of “the host of heaven,” it is usually speaking of celestial bodies, though the phrase can also refer to angelic beings. The word “host” can also refer to human beings and to nature itself. When you pray to Yahweh Tsebaoth, you are praying to a God so magnificent that all creation serves his purposes.
But David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This very day the LORD will deliver you into my hand.” (1 Samuel 17:45-46 NRSV)
GOD REVEALS HIS NAME
Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. David strapped Saul’s sword over the armor, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them.” So David removed them. Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine [Goliath].
The Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield bearer, in front of him. When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.
The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.”
But David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This very day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s and he will give you into our hand.” (1 Samuel 17:38-47 NRSV)
Lord God of Hosts, Yahweh Tsebaoth, help me to call upon your all-powerful name as I face challenges of various kinds.Take away my fear and arm me with faith and confidence. Use me to advance your kingdom in the midst of the struggles that lie ahead, and help me to remember that the battle always belongs to you. Amen.
Understanding the Name
Yahweh Tsebaoth (yah-WEH tse-ba-OATH) is a title of great power. It occurs more than 240 times in the Hebrew Scriptures, reminding us that all of creation, even in its fallen condition, is under God’s rule and reign. At times Scripture speaks of the Lord of Hosts leading a great army. Cherubim and seraphim; sun and moon; stars and sky; rivers and mountains; hail and snow; men and women; animals, wild and tame—all these worship the Lord and are at times called to fight on his behalf. The NIV translates this title as “LORD Almighty.”
Studying the Name
- Why do you think the story emphasizes David’s inability to do battle in the king’s armor?
- Contrast David’s attitude toward the battle with Goliath’s.
- Remember times in your own life when you felt embattled. How did you deal with your struggles?
- What one thing could you do today that would help you face future battles with greater faith?
Meet your spiritual ancestors as they really were: Less Than Perfect: Broken Men and Women of the Bible and What We Can Learn from Them.