The Lord of Hosts

Sally Richardson

"Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a 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 day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”

So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David."

1 Samuel 17:45-50

David’s triumph over Goliath is one of the best-known stories of the Bible. An agile boy with a few smooth stones defeats a giant, armoured warrior decked out with heavy weapons. This is a story of contrasts and ironies; tall versus short, strength versus weakness, arrogance versus humility, glorious victory versus humiliating defeat. We savour 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, too, dear friend, can rely on His strength in OUR daily battles.