Sometimes you come across a bible verse or two that seemingly holds nothing of importance to you in the moment. Sometimes the Holy Spirit nudges you to go back and read it again. Sometimes, when you read it the second or third time, you discover a little treasure that you had previously missed. That’s what happened to me when I recently read the following verses:
“And next to him was Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines gathered together at Lehi, where there was a plot of ground full of beans, and the men fled from the Philistines. But he took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and struck down the Philistines, and the Lord worked a great victory.” – 2 Samuel 23:11-12
Shammah… we never talk about him, but today I can’t get him out of my head. Though I have previously glossed over him as one of King David’s mighty men, I had never paused to think upon this episode where he defended a bean patch as if it were a goldmine. It would seem that he gained notoriety, in part, because of this valiant episode wherein a roving band of Philistine warriors made their way into Shammah’s town in order to steal, kill and destroy. While all of his peers fled the scene in order to avoid the intensity of the battle, Shammah is recorded as having stood his ground alone to deny even a patch of beans to these godless invaders. He had intense commitment and pulsing valor, and refused the enemy the slightest ownership of any part of the inheritance of Israel. While everyone else was avoiding the battle and could live with the losses, this child of God was inwardly stirred enough to the level that he could not imagine allowing the enemy to go unresisted – even if meant fighting alone.
You see, Shammah belonged to God. And so did his beans.
Why this strikes me as significant resides in the fact that we note very few men and women today that will fight with this kind of tenacity. Oh, indeed, Christians are known at times for fighting – often with one another – but this is an episode where immense commitment is given for seemingly valueless territory. I mean, c’mon, it’s just a bean-patch. Yet, Shammah stands before us as one who is unwilling to sacrifice even the smallest portion to the enemy. He is the rare believer who sees the need for “what is right” in even the least of things. Because that patch of beans was part of the covenant land that God promised to Israel, Shammah thought it wise to refuse the surrendering of ground to the wicked enemy. The beans had value because they were given by God, not because they were outwardly impressive on their own. If God had given it to Israel, then it was noble, Shammah believed, to not allow the enemy to steal it away. Battling for beans was actually a valiant endeavor to Shammah, in spite of the fact that his peers walked away from the fight.
By the way, are you still defending your bean patch against the enemy?
We fight for the big things, don’t we? Let’s make a stand against abortion, biblically defined gender and sexuality, the sanctity of marriage, relief for the oppressed and marginalized, the exclusivity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s send our money and prayers to the third-world nations to supply rescue for the impoverished. We must lift up our voices against the tyranny of exploitation of the poor and vulnerable. All of these things are incredibly important issues, and I am personally involved in all of them to varying degrees. But what about the bean patches? Who will stand and fight for those? Who will look the enemy squarely in the eye and plant a No Trespassing sign into these oft-forgotten areas of life? Many among our ranks have abandoned these private, personal patches of territory, and have decided that these little beans have lesser value and should not be deemed worth the fight. They turn and run and seek out better plots of land from which to eventually nourish themselves. They are among the anti-bean-counters, and have no issues with surrendering this territory to their own private Philistine invasion. I guess it might not be that big of a deal until one realizes that any territory surrendered to the enemy becomes his launching point for the next assault. Give the devil a foothold and it will undoubtedly become his stronghold. You see, that bean-patch you quit fighting for becomes his base camp for planning his next invasion of the adjacent acreage of your heart.
The enemy is not necessarily enamored with your beans, but he’ll take it in order to eventually own your gold.
I’m not going to tell you what your personal bean-patch is. But Holy Spirit will. You probably already know the little place(s) you’ve stopped fighting for. Those areas of life where you dropped your guard or walked away, deciding that it is no longer worth fighting for. You may also be aware that the surrender of those areas also led to the more severe surrender of something more important in your life. A man surrenders his eyes to pornography and loses his family later on down the road. A woman surrenders her lips and ears to gossip and then the field of her friendships is burnt up. A child of God surrenders his/her fight to keep the heart free of bitterness and, suddenly, recognizes they have lived without joy and peace for months. The Christian business person refuses to fight for the beans of integrity in their bookkeeping and eventually loses the entire field of their career when the government calls for an audit. A young woman allows some slick talking guy to sample her beans, and he eventually brags to his buddies when he has become the first invader to steal her entire field. She’ll never get it back. She should have fought like Shammah when that Philistine boy first set eyes on the bean-patch. I’m not trying to be cute with this, I’m deadly serious.
We underestimate both the tactics and the patience of the enemy. He greatly values the bean patch places in your life because they lead to greater acquisition down the road. Jesus came, lived, died, rose and ascended in order to own everything about us. The enemy hates the possibility that you would ever live your life in glorious agreement with the ownership of Jesus over your life. He is committed to prevent you from ever living under the beautiful and full mastery of the King. He knows what damage will be done to his plans if that ever occurs with you.
So he comes to steal your beans.
One at a time if necessary.
He doesn’t mind the waiting in the warfare.
You see, your bean patch is important. God thinks so. The enemy thinks so. So, defend your field with intensity. We need to continue to fight for every bean granted us by the Lord. He never gives us anything that’s not important. Let’s remember that today.