He had the frame and bearing of a man who knew and welcomed hard work—a man with a strong back, broad shoulders and rough, calloused hands. Today would reveal whether he had strength of character to match.
Shammah and several Israelite men labored in the field. In the distance, they heard an ominous sound: a low rumble and the clanking of metal. The source of the sound appeared over the hillcrest: a Philistine army.
The man next to Shammah dropped his bag of lentils without hesitating, turned and ran for his life. More and more men fled the scene, terrified.
“And next to him was Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines gathered together at Lehi, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils; and the men fled from the Philistines” (2 Samuel 23:11; rsv).
This was the natural reaction of a group of unprotected laborers downrange from an invading army. But not for Shammah.
“Do not flee!” he shouted. “Have faith! Don’t cower from these savages! Stand your ground, men! Stand and fight!”
The other Israelites didn’t even look back. “Shammah, run or die!” one shouted as he passed. Another grabbed him by the arm, trying to save his life.
But Shammah didn’t listen, and he didn’t move. As the Philistine raiders drew near, Shammah was no longer just a laborer. He was a target. But he didn’t let fear overcome him. He was determined to fulfill his duty as an Israelite warrior, whatever the cost.
Why this reaction—so unnatural to his co-workers? Shammah had faith in God. It didn’t matter how numerous or well-armed the enemy was; he trusted that God would deliver him and use him to stop them from whatever Israelite bloodshed they were planning.
“But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it …” (verse 12).
A group of Philistines detached from the marching ranks and closed in on Shammah with swords, spears and shields. It was time to make this laborer their first victim. But Shammah agilely avoided their strikes, went hand-to-sword against one soldier, and took his weapon.
Strengthened by God, Shammah survived, deflected, beat back and counterattacked. One invader fell to Shammah’s sword. Then another, then another. Shammah wielded his blade so skillfully that no Philistine weapon injured him. Squads of soldiers rushed the lone Israelite, but one by one, they fell to their death.
The Philistines were bewildered and appalled. How can one man defeat so many of us? they wondered. They began to shrink back. Then they began to run, fleeing the bloody lentil field to escape death. What had started as an anticipated execution had become a battle—and what had started as an unbelievably lopsided battle now became a rout.
Soon the struggle came to its astonishing end. Silence filled the scene. The field was strewn with corpses. Shammah “slew the Philistines: and the Lord wrought a great victory” (verse 12).
This is an extraordinary example of a faith-filled man of God who stood his ground.
What kind of warrior are you? How strong is your faith? While Shammah stood and defended a physical plot of land, we must stand and defend our spiritual ground. Satan is always trying to intimidate us. Society threatens to drive us from holding fast to God’s truth, law, standards and morals. Males throughout society are fleeing from their responsibilities as men.
Will you follow the crowd? It takes determination to resist the rush in the wrong direction. It takes true faith to do the right and fulfill your duty, even when doing so leaves you alone.
When enemies arise, will you run, or will you stand for God?
God needs faith-filled men to stand and fight for Him and His way of life. Remember Shammah’s example. Stand your ground!