God Uses Panic on His Enemies


1 Samuel 14:15-23
15And there was a panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and even the raiders trembled, the earth quaked, and it became a very great panic. 16And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and behold, the multitude was dispersing here and there. 17Then Saul said to the people who were with him, “Count and see who has gone from us.” And when they had counted, behold, Jonathan and his armor-bearer were not there. 18So Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God here.” For the ark of God went at that time with the people of Israel. 19Now while Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the camp of the Philistines increased more and more. So Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.” 20Then Saul and all the people who were with him rallied and went into the battle. And behold, every Philistine’s sword was against his fellow, and there was very great confusion. 21Now the Hebrews who had been with the Philistines before that time and who had gone up with them into the camp, even they also turned to be with the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22Likewise, when all the men of Israel who had hidden themselves in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were fleeing, they too followed hard after them in the battle. 23So the Lord saved Israel that day. And the battle passed beyond Beth-aven.

The path of this particular battle story is fascinating. We find just two men, Jonathan and his armor-bearer, boldly going against at least 20 Philistines in a small space (about ½ and acre) and winning. God uses this event to spark an all-out panic in the hearts and minds of the rest of the Philistine army. They are so scared they turn on one another. The army of Saul finds that there is chaos in among the ranks of their enemies. The Lord saves His people that day, not with thunder, or fire, or even the armies of Saul, but with panic. This isn’t the first time God has employed this weapon and it won’t be the last.

God used panic against his enemies. But – I can think of no incident where He uses panic against His own people. Panic is founded in fear. Fear is the opposite of peace. Panic is a clear indication that we are not looking to God for His protection, strength, and power, but instead looking to ourselves and finding that we are inadequate for the job at hand. Panic is an indicator that faith has be cast aside.

Even as I say this, I am aware of the times in my life when I allowed panic to lead rather than God. At the top of that list (and I’ll admit, it’s a pretty short list) is when my daughter was living on the other side of the world when the World Trade Center was attacked on 9/11. I had no idea how to get to her or bring her home, because there simply were no options. We had to just leave her there and wait it out. I confess, panic grabbed ahold of me and I couldn’t shake it for what seemed like a long time. God finally got my attention and taught me that she was safe in His hands no matter where she was on the earth – or even if He should choose to take her home to be with Him. It was a moment of surrender and panic was dissolved. God never uses panic against His own people – but I was choosing it rather than Him for a brief time. My bad, not His.

Panic is an interesting emotion, as it comes without warning and we seem to lose our reason. Perhaps if we think about our panic reactions when we are in a place of calm, we might be able to shorten the amount of time we spend spinning our wheels without resources. Even as we look at the walk of Jesus to the Cross during that last week of His life, we never see panic. We see sorrow and determination, but never panic. He knew what was coming and yet He never panicked. Instead, He trusted in the Father and won the battle against sin, death, and the devil.

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