The Russian invasion of Ukraine has evoked comparisons of David and Goliath because of Russia's superior military might and the brave resistance of the Ukrainian people. We must never forget, however, the key to David's victory. While Goliath trusted in his size, his military experience and his armament, David declared his trust to be "in the name of the Lord of hosts the God of the armies of Israel" (1 Sam. 17:45).
David's strategy for defeating Goliath was George Washington's strategy for defeating the mighty British war machine. Like David facing Goliath with his slingshot, Washington knew his ragtag colonial army was no match, in the natural, for the powerful, well-equipped British army.
Therefore, upon accepting the call of the Continental Congress in May 1775, Washington began to instill in the colonial troops a sense of the importance of prayer and faith in God, for as William Novak said: "Washington knew his only hope lay in a profound conviction in the hearts and daily actions of all his men, that what they did they did for God, and under God's protection" (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 114).
Washington issued an order stating that each day was to begin with prayer led by the officers of each unit. He also ordered that, unless their duties required them to be elsewhere, every soldier was to observe "a punctual attendance of Divine services, to implore the blessing of heaven upon the means used for our safety and public defense."
He also forbade profanity, swearing, gambling and drunkenness, explaining that, "We can have little hope of the blessing of Heaven on our arms if we insult it by our impiety and folly." He went on to express his desire that, "Every officer and man will endeavor so as to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier" (Ibid.).
At one point, during a particularly difficult part of the war, Washington and his men were quartering at Valley Forge. Reverend Henry Muhlenberg (1711–1787), pastor of a nearby Lutheran church, observed Washington's activities. He wrote, "Washington rode around among his army yesterday and admonished each one to fear God." Muhlenberg went on to say, "This gentleman does not belong to the so-called world of society, for he respects God's Word, believes in atonement through Christ and bears himself in humility and gentleness. It appears that the Lord God has singularly, yea marvelously, preserved him from harm in the midst of countless perils ... and hath hitherto graciously held him in His hand as His chosen vessel" (Ibid., 115).
Not only did Washington and his army pray, but the Continental Congress issued no less than 15 calls for national days of prayer and fasting during the war. Although it was a grueling seven years, numerous answers to prayer occurred protecting Washington and his troops, giving them victory when victory seemed impossible.
For example, in the early part of the war, Washington and his 12,000 troops were trapped on Long Island by a British force at least twice that size. The British took up positions and got ready to march forward and pin Washington and his troops against the East River. Confident of their position, the British decided to wait until morning to make their advance and put down this rebellion.
During the night, the Americans prayed and scoured the area for boats of any kind that would take them, their cannon and their armaments across the East River to Manhattan. As dawn approached, it was obvious they had not achieved their goal.
However, at that point a heavy fog rolled in and remained until the army and all its cannon had been moved across the river. As soon as they were safely across the river, the fog lifted. At that point, the British were amazed to see that the colonial army with their armaments had disappeared, as into thin air.
That was just one of the many "signal interventions" of which Washington made mention. And at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Benjamin Franklin called the delegates to prayer and reminded them how God had answered their prayers during the war. Addressing Washington, who was the Convention President, Franklin said, "In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain when we were sensible to danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, sir, were heard and they were graciously answered," (Ibid., 119).
After the British General Cornwallis ended the war by surrendering to Washington on October 19, 1783, Washington appointed Israel Evans, a chaplain in the Revolutionary Army, to deliver a Thanksgiving sermon to the troops that same day.
Addressing the massive crowd, Evans exhorted the troops to give thanks to God, knowing that their victory was not the result of their own strength and prowess. He also declared that the same God who fought for Israel in days of old had fought for them. In poetic verse, he declared,
To Him who led in ancient days, the Hebrew tribes, your anthems raise.
The God who spoke from Sinai's hill, protects His chosen people still.
Not in ourselves success we owe, by Divine help we crushed the foe, (Ibid., 119).
When David went out to face Goliath with a slingshot, he declared, "You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a shield, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel." In other words, David's trust was not in natural human resources or military armaments. His trust was in the name of the Lord. The same was true of George Washington and the Revolutionary Army.
I would, therefore, encourage President Zelenskyy to proclaim a day of prayer and repentance for the people of Ukraine. Let it be a day in which they, as a nation, ask God for His help against a larger and more powerful foe. Perhaps they will find that the God of David and George Washington still responds to sincere prayer.
This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt's books that document America's birth out of a great, spiritual awakening. This article is derived primarily from 1726: The Year that Defined America, available from Amazon and Hyatt's website at http://eddiehyatt.com.
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