From Praying the Names of God Week Thirteen, Day Three
The Lord of Hosts is a title that emphasizes God's rule over every other power in the material and spiritual universe. When Scripture speaks of "the host of heaven," it is usually speaking of celestial bodies, though the phrase can also refer to angelic beings. The word "host" can also refer to human beings and to nature itself. When you pray to Yahweh Tsebaoth, you are praying to a God so magnificent that all creation serves his purposes.
But David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This very day the LORD will deliver you into my hand." (1 Samuel 17:45-46 NRSV)
PRAYING THE NAME
The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge. (Psalm 46:6-7 NRSV)
Reflect On: Psalm 46
Praise God: Who is exalted among the nations.
Offer Thanks: That God defends his people.
Confess: Any tendency to reject God's love for you.
Ask God: To strengthen you in the midst of spiritual battles.
In 1529 Martin Luther, the famous reformer, wrote a hymn that has proven popular through the centuries. Included in the National Service of Prayer and Remembrance held shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York, it celebrates the power of this wonderful name of God.
Known to the world as "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," the second verse of the hymn goes like this:
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right man on our side, the man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth his name, from age to age the same,
And he must win the battle.
Luther, with countless battles of his own to fight, was celebrating the fact that Yahweh Tsebaoth, the Lord of Hosts, would triumph over whatever devils might face us in this world. The words of his memorable hymn are based to some extent on Psalm 46.
G. Campbell Morgan, pastor of Westminster Chapel in London during the early part of the twentieth century, points out something rather remarkable about verse 7 of this psalm. The Lord of Hosts—the God of sun and moon, people and angels, the great and terrible God whose army is comprised of the entire created world—is in the same breath called "the God of Jacob"—the God of a single, solitary human being whose life was anything but perfect. Here's how Campbell Morgan puts it:
I know only one man who is meaner than Jacob and that is Laban. The only comfort I ever got out of Jacob is that he was one too many for Laban. Of all men for astute, harddriving meanness recommend me to Jacob. But God is "the God of Jacob." . . . Oh, my soul, here find thy comfort! I do not know whether it helps you, but it helps me. He is the God of Jacob, mean as Jacob was. This is the thing on which my faith fastens. "The Lord of hosts . . ." yes; but "the God of Jacob!". . . But was that man such a man as I? The longer I live the more astonished I am that God ever loved me at all. The longer I live the more astonished I am at that infinite grace which found me and loves me and keeps me. The meanness that lurks within, the possibilities of evil that I have discovered make me ask, "Will God look at me?" He is "the God of Jacob."
Later, Campbell Morgan adds this: "It is not only in immensity but in littleness that God is great."4 God shows himself great not only in shaping the universe to his design but in reshaping our small hearts to accomplish his large purposes. The Lord of Hosts—the God of Jacob: He is our God too!