His name was Eleazar, and he was counted to be one of David’s “mighty men.” The story is told in 2 Samuel 23, that Eleazar, apparently left alone in a battle with the Philistines, rose up, and “…smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword: and the Lord wrought a great victory that day.”(v.9-10) There are many things we could speak of in this narrative, …courage, strength, loyalty, commitment…but I want to focus on the hilt of the sword. Scripture tells us that Eleazar grasped the hilt of his sword so tightly, and for so long, that apparently he could hardly let go after the battle. The point is this: the sword was not the only essential prerequisite to victory. The strength of the grasp upon the sword was paramount. There is no victory without the sword, and there is no victory without the grip on the sword.
Paul tells the Ephesians, after dealing with the great doctrines of union with Christ, the mercy and grace of God, and how we are to live…, comes to the warfare, the spiritual battle. In chapter 6, he declares that the Ephesians are to “…(take) the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Now, what distinguishes this sword from all others is that it is alive, and powerful. Listen to what the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews declares: “For the word of God is quick (living), and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (4:12) The power of the written word of God resides in the fact that it is the extension, the expression of the Living Word of God…Christ. (Jn.1.1) So, the question is not whether the “sword” is the most excellent of instruments of warfare here, or whether it is of everlasting quality and effectiveness. We know this. The issue is whether we are laying hold of it, and will not let it go. An application of this reality is found in Jesus’ words when He said, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free…(Jn. 8:32) “…If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (Jn. 8:36) Truth is powerful, but is most operative in the heart of the one who lays hold upon it.
Meditation on the word of God is not an option. We are told in Psalm 1 to meditate on the word of God day and night. Joshua, before the conquest of Canaan, is directed to meditate on the word of God…in order to DO, believe and obey it. In other words, the call is to know it, grasp it, live by it…realizing that with it comes the Living Word by the Spirit to enable us to overcome, to reign in life. Life and power is associated with truth.
In conclusion, a few questions: Could Eleazar have had the confidence to take his stand against the enemy if he did not have a firm grasp upon his sword? No, I do not think so. Was victory secured by the grasp of his sword? It was, for by God’s answer to his faith, the victory was won. “…and the Lord wrought a great victory that day.” (2 Sam.23:10)