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Sermons of Rev Mike Willmouth

"Standing In God's Pea Patch"
2 Samuel 23:11-12

(This Sermon was preached at the P.M. Service at Rock Hill Baptist Church, Lexington , TN on December 15, 2002. All Scripture references used in this sermon are based upon the KJV, unless otherwise stated)

This Sermon was written and submitted by: Joseph M. Willmouth, Pastor of Trinity Bible Church in Biloxi, Mississippi 39532. This contributed article is copyright protected, and the sole property of the contributing author.  It may be freely copied and used provided the above credits are included. Document expiration: indefinite.

11 And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines. 12 But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory.

Introduction: During the Gulf War, Americans got reacquainted with our military. Televised briefings and constant media coverage helped us see the intricacies of our national defense. One learning point came from the Joint Chiefs of Staff Official Dictionary of Military Terms. In this unabridged edition of technical military terminology, two rather common words don't exist. One is "surrender," and the other is "retreat." ( "Taking Orange County By Storm," Rick Warren, The Encouraging Word, Tape 42; Houston Post, June 5, 1994, p. V-5). In our passage of Scripture this evening, we have an example of an individual who also didn't know the word "surrender" or "retreat." He is referred to as one of David's mighty men. What was so important that this man risked his life for? A field of peas. But it was no ordinary field, for it was God's pea patch, it was part of the land that God had given to the nation of Israel, and this man was willing to take a stand there rather than surrender or run from the enemy. As Christians we can learn from these examples by removing the terminology of defeat, so the temptation to surrender or retreat will never impede our pursuit to accept nothing less than full victory for the Lord!

Transition: Let's take a look at what God's Word says about this man and see what we can learn from his example. . .

I. Recognizing The Need (v.11).
1. The enemy of God (v.11b).

A. The Philistines
1) They were a group of people who occupied and gave their name to the southwest part of Palestine.
A) They were known as the "Sea Peoples" by the Egyptians who migrated from Aegean sea.

B) The Philistines were experts in metallurgy, the skill of processing metals (1 Sam. 13:19-23).

C) Philistine expertise in this area put the Israelites at a decided disadvantage in their struggles with the Philistines (1 Sam. 13:22).

2) They had a highly trained military organization.
A) The Philistines were in ships designed with a curved keel and the head of a bird on the bow.

B) Philistine warriors wore a plumed or feathered headdress, a feature which added height to their physical appearance.

C) On land, the Philistines were equipped with horses and chariots, numerous foot soldiers, and archers (1 Sam. 13:5; 31:3).

D) The armor of Philistine soldiers included bronze helmets, coats of mail, leg protectors, spears, and shields (1 Sam. 17:5-7).

E) The story of Goliath indicates that at times the Philistines used individual combat (1 Sam. 17:1-58).

F) Most likely, the Philistine warrior went through a cursing ritual just prior to the confrontation (1 Sam. 17:43).

3) The Philistine religion mentions three gods.
A) Dagon
- Dagon appears to be the chief god.
B) Ashtoreth
- Was the fertility goddess of the Canaanites was most likely adopted by the Philistines.
C) Beelzebub.
(1) Whose name means "lord of the flies"

(2) A god who averted pestilence or plagues.

B. The enemy is just as real today.
1) The real little "g"od of the Philistines and his demons are still at war with God's people today.
- Ephesians 6:12, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
2) The worldly culture that we live in is an enemy of God and His people.
- James 4:4, "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship [philia {fil-ee'-ah}; fondness, friendship] of the world is enmity [echthra {ekh'-thrah}; hostility, opposition, hatred] with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
Application: The Christian faith is in a battle today with the world and the unseen spiritual forces of Satan. We are assaulted on all sides. From the inside of the church, Satan sends his fleshly armies in to infiltrate the local Church, to divide and conquer by using false teaching in hopes of leading God's flock away from the truth of His Word; The Apostle Paul warns us of this in Galatians 2:4, "And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage." >From the outside, the wisdom of the world tells us that all religions lead to heaven and we shouldn't tell anyone differently or else it will show our lack of intelligence and our concern for others, but God's Word states there is only one way to be saved; Acts 4:12, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Have no doubt that the war is real, in fact the only people involved in a war who don't have to fight are those who have already been killed or those who have been captured.

    I once had a pastor, when faced with some intensifying problems in the church said, "I'm excited!" I looked at him like he was nuts, and then he explained to me that when Satan begins to stir up trouble in a church, then God's people must be doing something that is pleasing to the Lord or else Satan and his demons wouldn't bother with trying to cause problems.

    If you are feeling the heat of Hell, be assured your not dead, nor have you been taken captive - but you are in the fight for the Lord.

Transition: Now let's look at the field of battle. . .

2. The ground of God (v.11c).

A. "where there was a plot [i.e., a field] of ground full of lentiles [lit., a plant of the pea family]."
1) The Philistine army looked at this land as a source of food that they could steal without having to put forth any effort or work for.

2) But God looked at this land as a part of His promise to Abraham in Genesis 13:14-15, "And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever." (Also see Gen.12:2-3, 7; 13:17; 15:5, 18; 17:8)

B. Satan saw this land as an opportunity to steal the promises of God, and to discourage God's people.
Application: Anything that is of value to God is of value to Satan's army, and therefore it is worth fighting for by both sides. Just as God had intrusted the Israelites with their land, He has intrusted local churches into the hand of believers. In 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 the Apostle Paul identifies the Church as "God's field" and we are the workers: "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." Like the nation of Israel was promised if they put their faith and trust in the Lord, He would protect them, God's church has His promise that He will protect us ". . .and upon this rock I will build MY CHURCH; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt.16:18). Notice that as long as a Church remains the Lord's, Satan cannot overcome it.

    But we must remember that the strongest walls are useless if the gates are weak or if the gatekeepers are careless or disloyal. The Great Wall of China was penetrated by enemies at least three times, and each time the guards were bribed. The church desperately needs strong gates and loyal gatekeepers (Stories for Preachers), and the way we do this is to be faithful to His Word.

Transition: There are two ways that we can respond when faced with trouble. . .

II. Responding To The Call (vv.11, 12).
1. Those who run (v.11c).

A. "and the people fled from the Philistines."
1) Who were the people here? They were the Israelites, God's chosen.

2) The word "fled" carries the idea of bolting or to quickly run away.

3) At the first sign of trouble, these individuals left without giving thought about the land that God gave them, of God's promises to protect them, or how their departure would affect others.

- If they were in the military they would be called deserters.
B. These individuals are more concerned about themselves than they are about others.
Application: Today our church rolls are filled with the names of those who have run away. About 80% of those who walk the isles of the church and make a profession of faith in Christ, will drop out of church totally within 6 months. The churches who have the biggest number people joining them today are the result of Christians who have runaway from their home churches - church hopping. I have been in Churches, where we had more dropouts on our rolls than we did active members. The first church that I pastored, I spent a year just visiting these individuals to try to encourage them to get involved in church again. In just about every house I visited I heard promises from these individuals that they would be in church next week, but I can't recall of one these families ever showing up. Then you would often hear some speak of past conflicts and why they left and would never return - although in most cases those who were involved in the conflicts had left or died years before.

    Running from conflicts shows a lack of faith and godly character. In fact, it really reveals that our sin nature is controlling our lives, and not the Holy Spirit because we are more interested in our own feelings than we are about doing what's right. The Apostle Paul spoke of this in Romans 7:18-20, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." It's easy to be a Christian in name only, but when faced with trials, persecution, or sometimes trivial conflicts, many people will chose to run rather than face situation.

Transition: The truth that we must face is this, battles are never won by those who run, but by. . .

2. Those who stand firm (vv.11a, 12a).

A. "Shammah the son of Agee a Hararite" (v.11a).
1) The interesting thing about Shammah, is that his name is that of an Edomite.
A) The Edomite tribe descended from Esau (Gen. 36:13), who was the brother of Jacob.

B) The word "Hararite" [Hay' ruh rite] means "a mountaineer."

- They lived in the area southeast and southwest of the Dead Sea, on opposite sides of the Arabah.
C) His name carries the idea of "frightful" or "astonishing" or "he heard."
2) Now don't miss the point of this: God's chosen people, whom He promised the land to fled, but a distant relative whom the promised wasn't given stayed.
A) Sometimes those that we put our trust in will let us down, while others we never thought of will surprise us when they step up to the task at hand.

B) Pastor B. Dale makes this comment about Shammah, "The valour of some men depends upon the presence, sympathy, and help of others, and fails when they are left to themselves. Under such circumstances, the courage of a true hero is fully brought out (Isaiah 63:3). He is independent of men because he depends upon God. By his single-handed effort, one such man is sometimes able to 'chase a thousand' (Joshua 23:10: PC)."

C) Shammah was a man who heard God's call and was able to do astonishing things because of his faith in God.

B. "But he took his stand in the midst of the plot, defended it, and struck the Philistines" (v.12a).
1) The first key to victory, is to be where the Lord wants you.
A) Shammah took in the MIDST [taw'-vek; the center, middle] OF THE PLOT.

B) He didn't stand on the edge, in the corners, or on the outside of the field but he stood in the middle of the field.

2) The second key to victory, is to STAND FIRM [yaw-tsab'; as to stay, continue, remaining, set, stand (fast, forth)] once you get where God want you to be.
Application: If you want to be used of God, then you need to be involved not on the edges of God's work, not in the corners by yourself hoping that someone notices you, nor on the outside looking in - but you need to be smack dab in the middle of were the action is going on.

    I remember reading a magazine article years ago about a husband and wife who where involved in their local church for many years, but began to drift towards the edges of God's work until they stopped being involved. At this same time a family who had once been members of this church and had moved away, had now moved back and rejoined the church. The people were excited because this family were very active in the church. Well this made the couple who had quit serving get a little jealous, and they began to talk to one another about moving to a new church - a church that would appreciate them. When they went to church for what they intended to be their last Sunday there, and as they sat there the wife began to day dream about how it would be when they would go to their new church. She thought of how the people of their new church would warmly welcome them and how they would probably ask them to serve. . .then it the truth came ringing home to her. The problem wasn't their present church, but them. They had stopped serving, they had moved from the midst of service and into the edge of God's field of service. This couple later decided that the solution wasn't to run from their present church, but to get back involved in serving the Lord where they were.

    Find out where God wants you to serve and get involved in the middle of it and be someone whom people can depend on because you are standing firm.

Transition: When we do this, thing you can be assured of the victory. . .

III. Reaping The Victories (v.12b).
1. Recognize God for your victories.

A. "and the LORD wrought a great victory."
- Have no doubt about it, it was God who won the victory and not Shammah.
B. John Wesley once said, "How great soever the bravery of the instruments is, the praise of the achievement is to be given to God. These fought, but God wrought the victory" (NOB).
Application: It is God who empowers us to do anything and apart from Him we can do nothing. The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:19-21, "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours." So often we pray for God's help in everyday matters, and we forget to give Him the praise and credit when He answers our prayers. The Apostle Paul tells us that everything that we do or say should bring glory to God; 1 Corinthians 10:31, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

    Let's always remember to give God the credit, and to live so as to glorify God, and not rob Him of the praise that He desires.

Transition: While it is God who wins the victories, and it is Him whom we should glorify. . .

2. God recognizes those who are faithful.

A. The faithful soldiers of David's army received an eternal place of honor in God's Word (DSB).

B. And He'll recognize you too.

Application: Throughout the New Testament we are told of wonderful rewards that await those who have been faith; there are 8 prizes for those who overcome (Rev.2:7, 10-11, 17, 26-28; 3:5, 12, 21; 21:7); there are 5 crowns for those who have been faithful servants (1 Thes.2:19-20; 1 Pet.5:1-4; 2 Tim.4:6-8; Jam.1:12; 1 Cor.9:24-27); there will be some who will earn the privilege of reigning with Christ (Rev.5:9-10; 20:6; 22:3-5); there will be laid up in heaven treasures beyond imagination (Matt.6:19-24); and lets not forget the sweet words that we all long to hear from our Lord, "well done, good and faithful servant. . ." (Matt.25:21). We need not worry that God doesn't see what we are doing, as the writer of Proverbs 15:3 states, "The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." And even in those times when we feel like that we are alone in our service, the Psalmist states, "The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry" (Psalm 34:15).

1. Where are you standing in God's pea patch?

2. I hope that this sermon will be an encouragement to you.

A. Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:10 states, ". . .give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall."
1) I want to encourage you to examine your faith tonight and see if it is real.

2) Do you tend to always run away from the battles and your faith in Christ always seems to be weak?

A) Maybe you have been putting your faith in the wrong things, or even the wrong christ.
(1) The worldly gospel says come and try Jesus and all your problems will pass away, and you'll be happy.

(2) The biblical gospel says that you stand condemned by a Holy God because you have broken His Holy Standards (the 10 Commandments), but because of God's love He has given you the cure for your terminal illness of sin, and that was through His
sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus Christ.

- God didn't save you so that you will always be happy, He saved you that you would become holy regardless of your happiness or circumstances.
B) Have you put your faith in the real Jesus?
(1) You'll never be able to stand where God wants you to until you do.

(2) In fact your on the wrong side of God's field if you haven't put your trust in Christ and you are facing God's eternal judgment.

B. I want to encourage those here tonight who have stood firm in the midst of God's pea patch, this church, through both good times and hard times.
1) God knows and you will receive blessings beyond your comprehension in heaven.

2) Be encouraged, fight the good fight and God will give you the victory.

C. And for those here tonight, who are standing in the corners or edges of God's pea patch, get involved in serving the Lord, that's where you'll find true happiness and satisfaction in your walk with the Lord.

DSB - Disciple's Study Bible, Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, TN.
NOB - Notes On the Bible, John Wesley