Chris Tomlin has a new song on his latest album that has been getting some airtime on Christian radio and which we recently began singing at our church. It's called "Whom Shall I Fear," and the chorus goes like this:
I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of Angel Armies
Is always by my side
The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of Angel Armies
Is always by my side.
It's a catchy song that has really stayed with me. I'm especially captured by the phrase "God of Angel Armies." It's a wonderfully poetic phrase that evokes a powerful image in my mind.
It comes from Eugene Peterson's translation of the Bible, known as "The Message." "God of the Angel Armies" is his preferred way to render the Hebrew phrase "Jehovah Sabaoth," which is one of the most common compound names for God in the Bible. It is a phrase translated as "LORD of Hosts" in the KJV and "LORD Almighty" in the NIV.
Examples from the Message include Psalm 24:10 (Who is this King-Glory? God-of-the-Angel-Armies: he is King-Glory.) and Isaiah 6:3 (Holy, Holy, Holy is God-of-the-Angel-Armies. His bright glory fills the whole earth.)
I like the phrase because it reminds me that God has incredible resources: He is the God of Angel Armies. He surrounds us with powerful and plentiful strength. It reminds me of a story in 2 Kings 6 about Elisha (which doesn't actually use the phrase).
An enemy king sends a huge military force after the prophet Elisha -- horses, chariots, swords, the whole bit. It is just Elisha and his servant. When the servant gets a glimpse of the approaching horde, he is terrified. But Elisha says "Don't be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." (2 Kings 6:16 NIV) Then Elisha prays for his servant's eyes to be opened, and he sees the hills full of "horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha."
In other words, Elisha's servant got a glimpse of God's angel armies. He found that he had nothing to fear because he knew who went before him. He knew who stood behind.
Throughout the Bible we find that this God of Angel Armies is our ever present defender, the Sovereign and Holy God over all the universe who sees us, loves us and moves mountains on our behalf. He fights our battles, wins our wars and is the refuge we can run to in time of need.
There is nothing He cannot do, nothing He does not know, nothing He cannot control, no enemy He cannot defeat, no heart He cannot heal, no mouth He cannot shut, no miracle He cannot perform. What a faith-building promise to know that God longs to work in our lives and on our behalf as the LORD of Hosts!
So, whatever trial or challenge you face, take heart. The God of Angel Armies is by your side.