Amaziah started out as a godly king. We get to see a portion of one of Amaziah’s battles. A battle where he trusted in the Lord and followed his commands.
I find it interesting that my bible titles this section “Amaziah’s Victories” when only one battle is included. I was wondering if the “men of Seir” were the same forces who Joash faced and was wounded by. Joash’s final battle was against the army of the Syrians. After Googling my question I find that they are not the same people. The people of Seir were Horites. The people of Edom were also called the people of Seir at times. The Syrians were Arameans. Two totally different enemies.
The reason I was wondering if they were the same people is because we didn’t see why the men of Seir attacked Judah. I’m not certain if Amaziah started this conflict or reacted to aggression on the side of Seir. We aren’t even told how long it took for him to count the men available to him for war. Or to hire the men from Ephraim. Could it be that he was the aggressor and was trying to take back territory that was previously lost to the armies of Seir?
I want to skip to the end of the battle for a moment. Comparing the numbers makes me even more curious. We are told of a total of 20,000 men of Seir who lost their lives in this conflict. Half of those killed were taken to a precipice and thrown over. I can’t imagine being able to do that with more than a handful of men before the rest of them fled in terror. But the size of forces Amaziah has to work with probably solved that issue right away. Amaziah had 300,000 of his own men to post against Seir’s forces.
Which brings me to another question. How many were in the army of Seir to begin with? Amaziah, before even setting out in battle feared he would be overwhelmed by the men of Seir. He was so afraid that he hired more men. One hundred thousand men from the tribe of Ephraim were hired to help Amaziah against the men of Seir. Did he know their numbers beforehand or was he doing “worst case scenario” preparations? And if Seir had more forces than Judah why was the end count so low?
And this brings us to the main point of our story. It doesn’t matter what the enemy has, when God is on your side, you will prevail. In the story of Joash’s battle with Syria, a small force of Syrians defeated Judah’s larger forces and even reached their king. Why? Because Judah was out of line with the Lord. God backed the Syrian forces and used them to execute judgment on Joash. But God states to Amaziah that He is on Judah’s side in this conflict. So no matter the odds, Judah will come out the victor IF they follow His commands.
Amaziah had a choice to make. He could trust in his overwhelming numbers (including those that he hired) or he could trust in the Lord. To trust in the Lord though meant giving up some of those he had assembled. God WOULD NOT let him win if he brought men of Israel into the mix. Israel was NOT aligned with God in ANY fashion. But this decision goes even deeper than where Israel stood with God. It went to the very heart of Amaziah. Did he TRULY trust God.
When Amaziah was confronted by the man of God he tried to push back by saying that he had already paid the men. God’s response was that He was able to restore the cost and more IF Amaziah chose to follow Him. Amaziah had no other rational for aligning himself with Israel. He chose God’s way over his own plans. He put his whole trust in the Lord. And the army of Seir was defeated. We have no way of knowing how many of them fled back to their own country, how many defected and came to be servants of Judah, or what became of their forces beyond the 20,000. We also don’t know how many Judah lost in this confrontation. What we do know is that Amaziah trusted and God answered.
We also know that the men of Ephraim, who were originally hired to help Judah, did NOT take being dismissed well. Many people would be fine with accepting pay for a job the employer cancelled. Being paid while not having to risk their own lives sounds like a win/win to me. But they didn’t see it that way.
Ephraim saw Judah as having disrespected them. “Are we are not good enough to fight beside them? Did they think we would turn on them at the first opportunity? Well, they will learn of our ‘fighting ability’ when we attack them instead. We will see who is worth their hire.”
Them being turned away reminds me of David being turned away by the Philistine kings in the final battle with Saul. David had it in his heart to turn against the Philistines to protect Saul. But God orchestrated it so that he wasn’t able to lend that support. God had a plan for Saul and it wasn’t for his continuation on the throne. God would not have His servants aligning with those against Him; then or in Amaziah’s time.
My final question for this story then is, why did God allow the men of Ephraim success in raiding the cities of Judah? They “struck down 3,000 people in them and took much spoil” (verse 13b). Were these raids done after Judah turned away from God? We will see how quickly Amaziah turns from trusting God to seeking other gods in our next time together. THIS is quite probably why God let Ephraim do their worst so soon.
I have had MANY times in my life where I struck out on a course that I felt I was being led to, without a clear plan of how it would all work out in the end. I had to TRUST that God knew what I needed and that He would carry me through whatever came. I have no doubt that some of those times my chosen course was not one He would have picked for me but He has NEVER failed to provide for me and my family. Some of those provisions came with a BIG serving of ‘humble pie’ but we never went hungry or without a safe place to lay our heads at night.
There were MANY lessons learned along the journey. The most important one was to trust Him NO MATTER WHAT. One of the ways He helped me too was by providing people to either sow into our lives or to point out resources that I had no idea about.
My parents gave SO much to me and my children when they opened their home to us. We lived with them and contributed from what we had through three separate stays. Without them I don’t know how God would have met out need. TRUSTING in Him I folded my ‘wings of independence’ and humbled myself again as their child. I KNOW it wasn’t easy on them as I struggled with my own issues. But they loved me through ALL my faults and God used these times to grow me even more. I believe he used the time to grow them too but that would be their story to tell. Mine is simply learning to trust that God has ALL of my life in His hands, even when some of the steps are hard to walk.
Father God, thank You for ALL the people You brought into my life! Thank You especially for my family. My mother and father who taught me to seek You and to trust You with all my heart. Their examples have given me hope and direction, even in the darkest times. I can clearly see Your love modeled in them.
Thank You that I NEVER walk alone. You are always by my side. You know the plans You have for me. And they are good! I trust You with my WHOLE heart to see those plans into being. There is NOTHING this world or Satan can do that will take me away from You. Even if I die in ‘battle’ I will still wake in Your arms. THAT knowledge gives me the strength I need to walk on, even when I can’t see what lies ahead. Settle my heart again any time fear tries to rise up in me. I trust the Only One who is ALWAYS trustworthy!