In I Samuel 17, David went up to the camp of Israel in the Valley of Elah to check on his brothers, and :20 says that “he came to the circle of the camp while the army was going out in battle array shouting the war cry.” This sounds like a stirring and inspirational thing, and it would have been indeed, except for one thing: they didn’t go out to fight! Verse 24 says “When all the men of Israel saw (Goliath), they fled from him and were greatly afraid.” Evidently “shouting the war cry” was just a bunch of bluff and bluster; there was no action behind it.
Unfortunately, it reminds one of many of our churches:
we “shout the war cry” of worship in our services — and yet do not really “go out to fight” the battles of the kingdom when we leave and go out into the world. Like Israel’s army, we make a lot of noise, but do nothing. We sing of the name of Jesus in church — but then leave and never mention it outside. We boast in our meetings of the importance of “telling the world” — but then actually do nothing all week long to advance the kingdom of God.
This episode in I Samuel 17 should be a wakeup call to many of us as to how ridiculous we are. “Shouting the war cry” can be a good thing — IF it is actually succeeded by brave combat. But when it is followed up by nothing but cowardice and inaction, it is quite a pathetic picture. Let’s ask God to help us do more than shout an empty war cry — but in the power of His Holy Spirit to be bold in actually fighting the battles of the kingdom!