In 1 Kings 20, we read of the battles that King Ahab of Israel fought with Ben-Hadad, king of Syria. Although Ahab was far from being a good king, the Lord helped him for the sake of His covenant with Israel, and we read in verses 19 to 21 how the Syrian army, including Ben-Hadad, had to flee for their lives before the Israelites. The advisors to Ben-Hadad came to the conclusion that the reason that the Syrian forces had been defeated was because Israel’s gods were gods of the hills, and so they were stronger than them. ‘But let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they’ (1 Kings 20:23). Encouraged by this completely wrong conclusion, when spring arrived, Ben-Hadad mustered his forces to come against Israel again, this time on a plain near a city called Aphek.
As the vast Syrian army drew near to fight against Israel, we read that the people of Israel were encamped before them like ‘two little flocks of goats, but the Syrians filled the country’. As the time for battle drew near, a man of God came to the king of Israel with these words: “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because the Syrians have said, “The Lord is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,” therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.’”
With this powerful encouragement, the people of Israel met the Syrian army in battle and struck down 100,000 foot soldiers in one day, and the 27,000 Syrian soldiers who were left died when the walls of Aphek, where they fled, collapsed upon them.
I remember, many years ago, when I first read the account above, how the truth impacted my heart. Contrary to the Syrians’ belief, God is not only the God of the mountains, but of the valleys also. What does that truth mean for each of our lives? It means that, just as our opening verse for today declares, we are in the Lord’s hands when we’re on the mountain tops, but we’re also in His hands when it feels as though we’re in the very depths.
There is a song, which I love, called ‘God on the mountain’. The chorus goes like this:
‘And the God on the mountain, is still God in the valley
When things go wrong, He’ll make them right.
And the God in the good times is still God in the bad times
The God of the day is still God of the night’.
(1975 Tracy Dartt)
Prayer: Lord, thank You that You’re God when I feel like I’m on the mountain top, but You’re still God when I go through the valley. Please help me to trust You in every season of my life. Amen.
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