The Twenty-Seventh Psalm
Fiction by Gary Piper
Note to the reader: I know you are not facing an army of superior numbers as the men in the following story are but sometimes circumstances in life will make us able to identify with them. You need not fear life you need only respect (fear) God.
“Have you ever been afraid before going into a battle Josiah?” Caleb asked.
Josiah a battle worn veteran looked at the young warrior, guessed his age to be about 18 and replied, “In all the battles I’ve been in I feared only the first one.”
Caleb, who was really only 17 stared at the older man momentarily then said, “I don’t understand Josiah in warrior school the instructor told us that if anyone ever said he wasn’t afraid he was lying and a fool, he told us that fear is part of every battle.”
Josiah looked the young man in the eyes, “It is he who is the fool,” he replied.
After a moment of silence Caleb asked, “We are only 300 men and tomorrow we’ll go battle over 25,000 men and you are not afraid?”
“The only fear I have Caleb is that I’ll not serve my Lord with all my heart, might, mind, and strength.” The older warrior paused for minute, “do you see Gideon standing over there?” he asked.
Silhouetted against the darkening sky Gideon stood tall as he surveyed the campfires in the valley below.
“Our instructor told us there is no better leader in the entire world then Gideon,” he replied.
“Before he became the warrior he is today he was filled with fear and the only man I’ve ever know to ever put God to a test,” Josiah answered.
“I recall hearing in my training about Gideon asking God twice before he destroyed the Altar of Baal. He must have a special place in God’s heart to have received an answer,” Caleb said.
As he listened to Caleb’s words Josiah was mysteriously transported back to that night when he accompanied Gideon and the others as they destroyed the Altar of Baal. Suddenly Josiah trembled in fear yet instantly his fear subsided as he re-experienced the peace and assurance he did that night as a bright white light enveloped Gideon.
“Were you on raid, Josiah?” Caleb asked.
“I was there.” Josiah didn’t mean to be abrupt but for some reason the younger warrior was beginning to annoy him.
After a few moments of silence with a voice filled with fear Caleb broke the silence, “I don’t want to die Josiah and in that valley is the smell of death.”
He paused then finished, “I can smell my own death.”
Josiah immediately felt angry with himself because he was so insensitive, “Do you know what I want most in life Caleb?” he asked.
“Not to die, Josiah?” Caleb replied.
After a moment of silence, “I want to live my life in the presence of God. I want to see him in all of creation. When I smell the air I want to smell life, I want to love the Lord with everything thing I am and with everything I’ve have. Do you want to know why?”
“Because when you love someone as I love God you have no fear. I know in my heart when trouble comes he will protect me and hide me if he needs to,” Josiah answered back.
“But what of death and what of being killed on the battlefield? Are you afraid, Josiah of what will happen tomorrow?” Caleb asked.
As I said moments ago I have only one fear Caleb it is that I’ll not love God enough,” Josiah responded.
“But we are only 300 Josiah! Against those odds, we do not stand a chance! Some of the others are saying that Gideon is crazy or something!” Caleb pleaded.
Turning and looking the younger man in the eyes Josiah remarked, “I don’t want to die but I don’t fear the possibility either because I trust in Gideon’s leadership and in his relationship with God. You can be taught to be a warrior but trust and faith cannot be taught. If you are living in fear I suggest your first battleground be in your spirit for it there the battle with fear will be won or lost.”
After a few moments of silence Caleb spoke up, “You’d better go get some rest Josiah. It’s my turn to be the lookout anyway.”
Slowly getting to his feet and looking around Josiah replied, “Thank you Caleb but promise me you’ll work out your fears with God.”
“I will Josiah. I just can’t understand how we are going to win with only 300 men.”
Josiah turned and slowly walked back to where the others were sleeping, “He’s lot to learn God,” he said, “But if he’s made it this far it’s because you wanted him here. Bless him Father.”
Alone now Caleb turned his attention toward the sleeping enemy below his mind wandered back over his short life. There were still times when he wondered why his mother and father had abandoned him. The last eight years had not been easy for him. He had to make his way in life but also knew they’d made him into the warrior he was at only 17 years old.
Suddenly out of the corner of his eye, he saw something moving his way. Instantly his sword was in his hand and he readied himself for a fight. “It’s only me Caleb,” Gideon’s voice put him at ease.
“Sorry sir I didn’t realize it was you,” Caleb answered back.
Coming closer Gideon said, “Don’t apologize Caleb had you not reacted the way you did I would have been very hard on you. This is your first battle isn’t it?”
“Thank you sir. Yes, this is my first one and if you don’t mind me saying I am terrified,” Caleb replied.
Gideon walked over to him, put his arm around him, and asked, “Are you bothered by the odds?”
Caleb paused not wanting to disappoint the mighty Gideon. “Speak up Caleb, you must be honest,” Gideon spoke up.
“We are only 300 men sir! Can so little defeat so many?” Caleb asked.
“Do you have a belief in God, Caleb?” Gideon asked.
“I have heard of God and I remember my mother telling me of him but when she abandoned me I abandoned everything connected with her and my father,” there was a hint of bitterness in Caleb’s voice.
“God has assured me the army below will be defeated and we will be victorious and that’s all I need to know,” he answered back.
“But Gideon, how can you be so calm and sure?”
“I have God’s word that we’ll have his strength and he has told me we will win,” Gideon replied.
“There is so many of them Gideon,” Caleb replied.
Gideon paused for a moment before answering, “Do you see the stars in the sky, Caleb?” he asked.
“Yes, I do sir.”
“Can you count them for me,” Gideon questioned him.
“No one can, Gideon,” he replied.
Looking into the heavens, “just as there are so many stars we cannot count so are the blessings of God. The army below is no match for God,” Gideon replied.
“Josiah told me to fear only God but how can I when I don’t know anything about him?” Caleb asked.
“You must go to him in prayer Caleb and work out your fears with him. He has handpicked you for the task we’ll face tomorrow therefore he knows you and has faith in you,” Gideon said.
“How can God have faith in me when I have none in him?” Caleb questioned Gideon.
“Because he’s God. Go to him Caleb,” Gideon said then turned and walked back to the camp.
As Caleb stood watching Gideon walk away the thoughts of talking to God started resurrecting feelings of hatred and anger toward his parents. “Will you too abandon me God? When we face overwhelming odds tomorrow will you hide yourself from me and leave me alone as did my parents?” he shouted into the heavens.
Continuing to stare into the night sky Caleb waited for God to answer him. Becoming impatient he called again, “Where are you God? I am here, isn’t this where you wanted me?”
Again, there was no answer only the whisper of the night wind blowing across the mountains. Suddenly, “Caleb?” a voice sounded from behind him.
Quickly turning around and stopping in a defensive stance Caleb stood face to face with this mother, or someone who looked like her anyway. “Who are you?” he angrily called out!
“Caleb. Don’t you recognize me? I’m your mother,” the stranger answered back.
“I don’t believe you and if I did I’d kill you with my bare hands. I don’t know who you are but you don’t belong here. Now leave,” Caleb demanded!
“Please Caleb. I am your mother. I’m terribly sorry if it seems as if we left you but your father and I were tricked by some evil merchants and eventually taken as slaves. We done all we could but we just couldn’t get back to you. Please forgive us,” the woman replied.
“If that is true how did you get here and what are you doing?” Caleb asked, not really believing the stranger.
“I have been sent by God to help you build a relationship with him.”
Caleb turned his back toward the stranger; “You, who abandoned me help me, build a relationship with God?” his voice was filled with pain.
“I am telling you the truth Caleb. We did not abandon you. Your father died trying to get away from our captors. Please believe me.”
“Why should I?”
“Because not only is your life at stake but your happiness as well. God loves you Caleb and he wants you to love him. If you must hate someone hate me not him,” came the reply.
Caleb paused then turned around to confront her again but no one was there. He was alone. He stood motionless for several minutes turned look toward the camp where 299 of the bravest men he’d ever known were sleeping. Then he turned and looked into the valley below where the enemy was sleeping as well. Deep inside he could feel the fear building and building.
Suddenly he dropped to his knees and began praying, “tell me what to do God I am surrounded by fear. Because I don’t know you please speak to me in ways, I can understand. Don’t let the enemy win God. Take away my fear, take away the pain, hatred, and anger that lie in my heart.”
Instantly Caleb felt a strange new feeling building in his chest and as it grew, he could feel his fear becoming smaller. At the same time, the truth of his abandonment unfolded just as the stranger had told him.
Then with tear filled eyes he continued his prayer, “Lord, you have spoken the truth in my heart; somehow I know you have been with me and protected me every minute of every day; somehow I know that tomorrow when we battle our enemies you will shield all of us.”
Suddenly interrupted by someone approaching he jumped to his feet and drew his sword, “Hold it Caleb it’s me Gideon.”
“Sorry again sir,” Caleb replied.
“I should learn to announce my presence before something dreadful happens,” Gideon answered back.
Over the next few minutes, Caleb related to Gideon everything that happened to him since his last visit. “I am happy for you Caleb I know God will bless you in ways you cannot now even imagine,” Gideon replied.
“I’ve never felt stronger Gideon perhaps we should awaken the others and attach the army below while they sleep,” Caleb’s voice was filled with confidence.
“Caleb, everything in due time don’t be so impatient we’ll wait until the Lord tells us to move and not a minute before. When the time is right he will lead us into battle,” Gideon said in return.
“Sorry for my impatience Gideon,” Caleb answered.
“Forget it. I’ll take the watch from here go get some sleep we’ll have a busy day tomorrow,” Gideon told him.
Caleb thanked Gideon gave him a hug and headed back to camp.
“So young God, so impatient, so brave,” Gideon prayed, “save us all Lord.”
Note: To read how the Caleb’s story (and your story) turns out turn to the Seventh Chapter of Judges http://www.esvbible.org/Judges+7/.