I’m not much of a basketball guru, but I know that when there is a player that’s just taking it to your team, often you want to double team that player: have two people guard the one person. In football it works a similar way when a particular wide receiver is too much for one defender to handle: you double him. Double teams can be effective because while the offensive player is too much for one person to handle alone, two defenders working together can neutralize his effectiveness.
There are times when we face a difficult situation, when we must wage spiritual war against Satan’s attacks, that we could use the help of others. Sometimes the temptations and threats are too much to handle on one’s own. Have you ever felt this way? We know the saying that there is strength in numbers; yet why then do we so often try to fight Satan’s attacks solo? Of course, the Spirit of the Lord is with us and for us. But I just can’t help but think that even God wants us to band together as believers—to not leave each other to fight our own battles—rather, to come to the aid of those in the midst of the most pressing struggles.
In 1 Chronicles 19 David sends Israel’s armies against an alliance of Syrians and Ammonites. Joab, the commander of the Israelite army, realizes that there are enemy armies both in front and behind his men. Here’s what he decided to do: “When Joab saw that the battle was set against him both in front and in the rear, he chose some of the best men of Israel and arrayed them against the Syrians. The rest of his men he put in the charge of Abishai his brother, and they were arrayed against the Ammonites. And he said, “If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me, but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will help you. Be strong, and let us use our strength for our people and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him” (1 Chron. 19:10–13, ESV).
I love what Joab does here. He divides this army into two battalions and sets them against each of the oncoming enemies. Then he appoints his brother as leader of one of the groups, with himself as leader of the other. Finally, he gives the instruction that if one of them is being overwhelmed by their enemy, the other would come to help. I think this is a wise and effective battle plan for us as Christians in our battle against Satan and the powers of darkness. We could summarize it this way:
First, find a brother (or sister) and team up together. Ask that person to pray for you daily and offer them your prayers. Ask them to hold you accountable as you do for them. Ask them to come to your aid when you’re really up against it, and to call for your help when s/he needs it. If you can have a close companion in the midst of this battle that you are both fighting, then you will be better equipped to stand against Satan. You will have encouragement, counsel, prayers, support, comfort, and so much more as you fight the enemy with another fellow soldier, who knows what this war is all about.
Secondly, take courage in the presence and purposes of God. Joab encourages his brother to be strong and to remember who he’s fighting for: “our people and for the cities of our God.” If we surrender ourselves to the Lord and seek to build his kingdom, then we can indeed be strong in the face of opposition. We not only have the support of other believers but the presence and purposes of God to guide and strengthen us.
By the way, Joab and Abishai won the battle that day, together. I believe that you too can win the battle against the enemy today, and tomorrow. But I like your chances and mine much more if we do it together, side by side, committed to helping each other when we’re weak and overwhelmed. Take some time now to pray that God would lead you to someone who can be that friend in the midst of battle. And take courage: God won’t let you down!