“And a man of God came near and said to the king of Israel, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Because the Syrians have said, ‘The LORD is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,’ therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”’” (1 Kings 20:28)
In the time of Ahab, king of Israel, the king of Syria began to make war on Israel. They besieged the capital and made harsh demands of Ahab, wanting all the treasure within the city as well as Ahab’s best wives and children. Obviously, Ahab refused to give in to these demands, so the two armies went to war. Just before the battle, a prophet came to Ahab and told him that Israel would win, so that the Syrians would know that God is the LORD. And sure enough, though the army of Israel numbered only 7,000, they routed the Syrians and freed their city.
But the Syrians had not yet learned their lesson. They had fought among hills and lost, so clearly the God of Israel was a god of the hills. If they fought in the valley, the Israelites would not have His protection. So they came again, this time picking their fight on lower ground. But they had made a serious miscalculation. Through this war, God would show the Syrians that He is the God of the universe, the God Who is in control of every part of the world. Their defeat in the valley was worse than the one in the hills. The Syrian king was captured, only redeeming his life with all the cities Syria had taken from Israel. At last, they knew to fear the God of Israel.
Psalm 24:1 declares, “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein”. This means that everything in the world belongs to God. There is no place where He is powerless, no realm where He is not in control. There have been many different false gods throughout the world, and each of them is sovereign over a tiny portion of life. God, however, is over it all. As the Syrians learned to their destruction, He is God of the hills as well as the valleys. No one can escape Him; no one can hide from Him.
In one way, this is terrifying. For God’s enemies, this means that they have no chance of getting away with their evil deeds. God will find them, no matter how far they run, because everywhere they go belongs to Him. But for those who are following God, this fact is a source of infinite comfort. Everywhere we go belongs to Him. Though the people living there may be unfriendly or even hostile, it is still ultimately God’s. We are always under His protection, no matter where He may lead us.
This is my Father’s world:
Oh, let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the Ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King: Let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let earth be glad!