May 19, 2014

Yahweh Sabaoth: "the Lord of Hosts"

1 Samuel 17:45-50

David said … “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel… .”
—1 Samuel 17:45


David’s triumph over Goliath is one of the best-known stories of the Bible. An agile lad with a few smooth stones defeats a giant, armored warrior decked out with heavy weapons. It’s a story of contrasts and ironies: tall versus short, strength versus weakness, arrogance versus humility, glorious victory versus humiliating defeat. We savor the triumph of the underdog.

But this impressive story isn’t mainly about David and Goliath. The core conflict is between the false gods of the Philistines and the God of Israel, Yahweh Sabaoth, “the LORD of Hosts” or “the LORD Almighty.”

Yahweh Sabaoth is one of the most widely used names for God in the Old Testament, occurring nearly 300 times. The name Sabaoth comes from the Hebrew word for “that which goes forth” and for “armies” or “hosts.” The name Yahweh Sabaoth declares God’s reign over heaven and earth and over all armies, earthly and spiritual.

David, understanding the real conflict, declares that “the battle is the LORD’s.” And through him, Yahweh Sabaoth, “the LORD of Hosts,” defeats the mighty Philistine and his gods.

A hymn of the church sings, “Lord Sabaoth his name, from age to age the same”—and we can rely on his strength in our daily battles.

Lord of Hosts, help us to rely on your strength to wage the battles we face each day against our own trials and tempta-tions. We ask this in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

About the author — Kurt Selles

Kurt Selles is the director of ReFrame Ministries and serves as the Executive Editor of Today. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Seminary, and received his PhD from Vanderbilt University. Before coming to ReFrame, he served 19 years in Taiwan and China with CRC World Missions. Kurt later taught missions at Beeson Divinity School, where he also acted as the director of the school’s Global Center. Kurt and his wife, Vicki, reside in Grand Rapids and have three adult children.

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