A Vegetable Garden Worth Defending

Monday, April 8, 2013

“And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines. But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory” (2 Samuel 23:11,12 KJV).

Why did Shammah passionately fight for such seemingly insignificant real estate?

The Bible says very little about this Sammah, but here is the description that God’s Word gives him. Firstly, he was one of King David’s “mighty men,” a brave man of war who served David (verses 8-39). Secondly, he engaged in a battle that, to us, seems ridiculous, but to Israel, was highly significant.

In today’s Scripture, we read of one of Israel’s many battles with the Philistines, a group of Gentiles who lived in the land of Canaan along the southeastern coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. The Philistines have gathered together where there is “a piece of ground full of lentiles.” A lentil is a bean plant that is grown for its seeds. In other words, the Philistine soldiers are standing near a vegetable garden, and Israel has fled in fear!

Shammah, however, literally stood his ground. He defended that “pea patch,” and killed these Philistine soldiers. Again, we ask, why would this mighty man of David passionately fight for a bean plant garden?

We find the answer back in Genesis 15:18, what we call the Palestinian Covenant: “In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.” Circa 2100–2000 B.C., the God of heaven and earth gave the title deed of the Promised Land—much of the Middle East—to Abraham (later, to Abraham’s son Isaac, and Isaac’s son Jacob).

Even if it was a simple garden of beans, Shammah was willing to die for that holy land God had given his people—he was not about to let pagan Philistines have it! (Interestingly, the names “Palestine” and “Philistine” are etymologically related.)