A Summons to Battle

Charles Spurgeon makes spiritual application concerning the battles we face as believers.

A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, October 10, 1869, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

The time when kings go out to battle. (2 Samuel 11:1)

1. There, seems to have been in the olden times, among the petty sovereigns of the East, regular seasons for warfare; perhaps they marched out in the spring, when the grass would afford food for their horses, or possibly in the autumn, when the troops could forage upon the standing crops. These sovereigns of small territories were little better than the captains of hordes of robbers, and their revenues were rather derived from plunder than from legitimate taxation. We may thank God that we live in a happier era, for the miseries of nations were then beyond imagination. Desolating as war now is, its evils are comparatively little compared with those days of perpetual plunder.

2. There are times when kings go out to battle now; they will be at their accursed trade when they think that their people will tolerate another oppressive tax, or when their credit is good enough for their bankers to make them another advance. Alas, the blood which has been poured out to gratify the ambition of princes! Yet it is always cause for thankfulness that the times when kings go out to battle are not left altogether to their whim and caprice; there is one who reigns in the highest heavens who does not allow this plague to break out among the sons of men, unless in his wisdom he ordains that good shall come of it. The Lord holds back the dogs of war with a leash, and does not loosen them unless when his superior wisdom sees it should be so.

3. But I am not about to talk of kings. Very few of them are good enough to talk about on a Sunday, and most of them are scarcely worth talking of at any time. I must transfer the text to some other and more practical use. There is a time in our hearts when the inner warfare rages with unusual violence. At certain times our corruptions break out with extreme violence; and if for awhile they appear to have formed a truce with us, or to have lost their power, we suddenly find them full of vigour, fierce, and terrible; and hard will be the struggle for us, by prayer and holy watchfulness, to keep ourselves from becoming slaves to our inward enemies. May we have increased grace given us in these trying seasons. I believe that most of you have found that there are seasons when kings go out to battle in the matter of your doubts and fears. Depressions come upon you, you scarcely know why. They come without apparent cause, and they depart almost as unexpectedly. As John Bunyan says of the Slough of Despond, that at certain seasons it pours forth its mire most horribly, so I have found it with regard to despondency and feebleness of faith. At certain times these tyrants wreak havoc in our souls.

4. So it is with Satan. He does not always tempt. Although always “going about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour,” he does not always roar, neither does he always leap upon his prey; he is always ready to destroy, but does not always find the opportunity for attack. Yet are there times when he finds our flesh in a fit condition for his temptation, like dry tinder for his sparks, when he finds our souls at a distance from God, our faith at a low ebb, and our piety declining, and then this grand enemy of our souls will go out to battle like a mighty Nimrod, seeking to lead us captive and utterly to destroy our faith. You know these times of war, my brethren, for you have passed through them. If they are not upon you just now, thank God, and accept the rest which his love affords you, but keep your sword out of its scabbard, for the fight may begin again at any hour. If you are passing through the conflict at this moment, do not be afraid nor discouraged; it has been the lot of all God’s people to fight their way to heaven, and it must be yours. Do not think that you shall be overcome, but rather cry with the prophet, “Do not rejoice against me, oh my enemy: when I fall, I shall arise.”

5. Neither, however, are any of these things the topic upon which I am to speak this morning. I thought of using the text in reference to Christian activities. There are times when Christians, all of whom are kings to God, should go out to battle in a special and particular sense. So we will take the text and accommodate it to that purpose this morning, and may God send us now a soul stirring word.


7. The special time for Christian activities is just now. In some sense, indeed, in the highest sense, believers ought always to be active. There should never be an idle day, or a wasted hour, or even a barren moment for a servant of God. We are bound as soon as we receive the new birth, to let that spiritual life develop itself in zeal for our Lord Jesus Christ, who has redeemed us by his blood; and never until we lay aside this body are we to cease from service, or imagine that we have a furlough from the camp of our King. Yet no man can always work with the same intense activity. I do not believe that God intended that any man should do so; rest is a necessity of feebleness. Look at nature. . . .

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