“So it shall be, when you are on the verge of battle, that the priest shall approach and speak to the people. And he shall say to them, 'Hear, O Israel: Today you are on the verge of battle with your enemies. Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them; for the Lord your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you'” (Deuteronomy 20:2-4).
As Moses continues his farewell address to Israel shortly before they are going to cross the Jordan River to go in and conquer the Promised Land, he gives them instructions regarding conquering the various cities of the Promised Land. It was important for the army of Israel to have good morale. General Dwight David Eisenhower said, “Morale is the greatest single factor in successful wars”.
Provisions were made to allow those who might weaken the morale of the army to be allowed to go home and not fight in the battle. Those who had recently built a house, but had not dedicated it or had recently planted a vineyard, but had not yet eaten of it were allowed to not have to participate in the fight (Deuteronomy 20:5-6). Those who had recently betrothed a wife but had not yet married her were allowed to go home (Deuteronomy 20:7). Even those who were simply fearful and fainthearted were dismissed from the battle (Deuteronomy 20:8).
The army that remained to fight against the cities they faced would not be full of cowards or those who were distracted by the cares of life. Instead, it would be an army of high morale that had confidence that they would be victorious against their enemies because they were not fighting their enemies by their own strength alone. As the opening verse above indicates, the priest reminded the soldiers that God Almighty Himself was leading them into battle!
As Christians we are engaged in a spiritual warfare (2 Corinthians 10:3-4). We face hardships as soldiers of Christ as we are persecuted for standing up for God and His Word (2 Timothy 2:3-4). It is important for us to be properly equipped with the provisions God has given to us (Ephesians 6:10-18). But, above all it is essential that we have outstanding morale in the army of God as we look to God as the One who leads us into battle and fights our battles with us and saves us. Today, I will praise God and remember He leads me into battle!
“Blessed be the Lord my Rock, Who trains my hands for war, And my fingers for battle-- My lovingkindness and my fortress, My high tower and my deliverer, My shield and the One in whom I take refuge…” (Psalm 144:1-2).