Great In The Mountain But Terrible In The Valley

Judges 1:17 “And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. And the name of the city was called Hormah.”

Judges 1:18 “Also Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof.”

Judges 1:19 “And the Lord was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.”

Hello readers, hope you had a good week, and with Sunday comes the start of another week, and new opportunities to redeem the time, because the days are evil. I recently had a thought from the book of Judges as quoted above, and particularly the verse where we find that the tribe of Judah was able to drive the Canaanites out of the mountain, but not out of the valley. We often fare very differently in the mountains than we do in the valleys, but through Christ hopefully we will learn to win in both!

The context of these verses is that Israel has gone in and possessed the land under the leadership of Joshua, but after he died, he’d left them some fighting still to do. Faith is a fight, and we won’t stop fighting until we die. We will face resistance in the spiritual realm particularly to follow Jesus, so we have to take up the sword and fight a good warfare. We have deeply personal fights, we have private fights, and we have public fights.

So here comes the tribe of Judah, and they’ve had plenty of victories, they’ve won here and they’ve won there, and God is with them… but then they come to an enemy that they can’t beat… because of where that battle takes place. Because in the valley, the Canaanites were able to utilize a major military strength they had… chariots of iron… and Judah couldn’t match them there.

The Canaanites had proven to be an enemy they could beat. With God’s help, Judah had been whipping these Canaanite in this region and that region, this place and that place. But in the “valley”, they couldn’t beat the Canaanites. And this relates so much to my life and perhaps to yours also, because in the valley is where the toughest fights of our lives take place. Maybe you’re down pretty low at the moment, and you’re taking a lot of casualties as you’re getting steamrolled by the devices of the devil.

Personally, I’ve found in my life that I can do ok, and even great, in the mountains… but I’ve found out that I fare very poorly in the valleys. In fact, I’m terrible in the valleys. What do I mean by that? Well, just think about it, mountains are the ups and the valleys are the downs. Mountains are the highs and valleys are the low. But there seems to be more low than high!

I’ve found that when I’m down, and when I’m low, that’s when I can’t win. If I’m not feeling well, if everything isn’t perfectly in my favour, suddenly success turns to failure. Judah found that the Canaanites were a much more formidable foe in the valley. And that will be what every Christian will find. When you’re depressed, when you’re struggling, when you’re down, when things aren’t going quite right for you… those Canaanites bring out all their biggest weaponry against you. And Judah says hey, we usually beat these guys, but we can’t seem to beat them here… in the valley.

Why could they not win? Because the Canaanites had something, an advantage… chariots of iron. Oh, that changes everything. Just think of all the battles during wars that were won based on where the fight took place which favoured one sides skillset or abilities over anothers. Like the tank battle of the Kursk in WW2, where Russian tanks were able to use their superior speed to destroy what were considered far superior German tanks. The context of our battles can favour us or put us right up against it.

What do chariots do? Well they give you speed on the battlefield. They could get to you and you couldn’t get to them, as they shot arrows and threw javelins out of the chariot. They could even run you down with their chariots. Chariots could be fitted with scythes and literally mow ground forces down, and just imagine the fear and panic and despair those chariots of iron would have injected into even the most seasoned solider, realizing, “I can’t compete with that”! And these were super chariots, because they were made of iron, not easily broken or put out of action.

I believe Judah could have won in the valley, but we know from the Bible that often we do not win in the valley. I remember in the Bible where Paul said “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” So there’s a “could not” here in Judges, but a “can” in Philippians 4:13. So what is greater than those chariots of iron? Not what, but who, and the who is Christ, of course.

It can seem to us like we don’t have the weapons we need doesn’t it. Look at our world, everything is so beyond us. Even in our own lives, we seem so outmatched. But “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)” Judah’s biggest, and truly, only asset was the God they served, so did God fail them here, or did they just give up too easily? Don’t give up, but rather, get up and go again, and go with God. “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.”

I have no doubt that Judah tried, because it doesn’t say they “did not” drive them out like they didn’t try, but it instead says they “could not” meaning they did and failed. They got to the “I can’t do it” phase that we all frequent. I can’t do it. I can’t do this. And you can’t… because you are outmatched, you need Christ… chariots of fire beat chariots of iron don’t you think?

I believe what happened here isn’t that God failed Judah, but they tried and failed, and did not trust God. Yes they had had faith for easier battles, preferable battles, battles they could conceive of winning… with or without God… but this was a battle that relied totally on God. And God is going to take us to spots, places and battles in our lives where we are outmatched and beyond our capacity. “Launch out into the deep!” Out in the deep we are completely out of our depth, and would drown if Christ does not come through on his promises to us. But that takes faith. Chariots of iron can only be dashed in pieces through faith.

I thought about all this though, and particularly about doing good in the mountains but bad in valleys…. because I’m up and down in my Christian life. And there are good spots, but lots of bad spots, and why can’t I win in the bad spots, the low spots, the depressions, the places of battle where not everything is in my advantage and I have to rely on God’s grace rather than my ability? Why can’t I still win even if everything hasn’t lined up just right?

It would be nice if life was all ups and no downs, it would be nice if we didn’t have to fight in the valley, if there were not valleys at all. But often, just how impotent is our spiritual life and walk with God rendered when the battle is in a place and circumstances that do not favour us? Often very impotent… powerless, defeated, and accepting of that defeat, resulting in a knowing of our place and a status quo in that defeat that may go unchallenged for years or even our lifetime. We get to know that there are areas in our life that we cannot drive doubt, fear, despair… Satan… out… and he goes unchallenged in our land for years and years.

We are not always, or maybe even ever going to have the battles all on our terms. We don’t get to pick the time and place, we may not have perfect scenarios in which to fight in this warfare that every Christian soldier is in… and that’s why we need Jesus Christ, because he’s my “can” when I’m a big fat “cannot”. There will be vehicles and weapons and devices and instruments that we cannot match like here, it’s then that we really need to pray to God who we know in the Bible was well and truly capable of beating chariots of iron, because he did it later in Judges during the time of Barak and Deborah, but even before that, what about Pharaoh’s chariots that chased a rag tag convoy of slaves whom God plunged into the depths of the Red Sea without them having to do a thing.

So we can’t just be fair weather Christians, we have to be all seasons Christians. I remember years ago reading about Samson whom the Spirit of the Lord began to move him “at times” in the camp of Dan. So he wasn’t all seasons, but at times. And where was he moved? In the camp of Dan. There was a time and place where his Christianity if you will positively flourished. But when he was outside that camp, that home ground advantage he had, like us being out in this world rather than secure around fellow Christians… we all know how his life went… it went down. And he met a woman in the valley who really had his number.

Samson was up and down, but more down. Bit like all of us. He went and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam… he was living high… but then he was brought down wasn’t he. Dear reader, that Canaan land has mountains, plains and valleys, and God’s given us all that real estate to possess, not to concede. And we shouldn’t be on the roller coaster that many of us are on. A Christian should be tempered by experiences, not tossed by them.

When things aren’t perfect, how are you going in those places? When you’re not feeling well, how are you doing there? Are you driving out… or are you being driven out? Because in this world, you’re either driving out or being driven out. Many Christians are in full retreat, but why should we be? The gates of hell should not prevail against us… what, do you think the gates of hell attack us? No, we can take those gates away, as Samson did with the gates of Gaza that one night. We should rob hell, not hell rob us.

And let’s not be under any false illusions… life will have depression and lowlands and be a lot of the time be just “plain”. There are a lot more plains and valleys than mountains. Can we win on every battlefield? Can we win on the high ground and the low ground? Or are there battles where we are getting whipped because it’s not a perfect scenario for us to fight and win?

Do you say to God, I can’t “because” of blah, blah, blah? What’s your reason you can’t win? The same kind of reasons Israel always had? We can’t go in because of “high walls” and “giants” remember. But they’d been going alright in there? What was it about these chariots of iron after so many battles which caused Judah to go from “can” to “could not”. What about for us? Where was the line drawn between where God can and God cannot? God had given them the land. God didn’t just give them the mountains, he gave them the valleys also.

It does seem like this impotency in the valleys persisted through Israel’s history, because over in 1 Kings 20:28 the Bible says that the Syrians came to battle in a plain because they had said “The LORD is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys”. The enemy is taking notes, people are reading your life. They know where and when God is not your God. And Israel’s enemies had learned a thing or two about them. Yet they would get royally whipped in this battle, because of God’s mighty deliverance.

But I dunno, it’s still not much fun thinking about having to fight in the valley. But shouldn’t we be like the horse of Job 39:21 who “He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men.” Woah. What about Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

So what we know is that we all go through valleys and have fights before us that will take place right there… but let’s remember, that as Abraham found out… the valley we are in as children of God is the “king’s dale”.  Because the first mention of “valley” is where Abraham meets the two kings, the king of Salem, Melchizedek and the king of Sodom. But is the king’s dale, God owns your valley, he is God of the valleys. You’ll never be in territory in life that is beyond God, which does not come under his rule and reign. A fight that belongs to God should be trusted in God’s mighty and capable hands. God and his chariots of fire mean the battle is always in our favour, and the battle is the Lords. So yes, there are valleys where you don’t have the answers and the capacity, and they may be terrifying and low and defeated places, but through Christ, he will turn that “could not” and that “cannot” into a “I can”, because he is our “yea” and “Amen”.

Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.”


Joseph View All →

Hi, my name is Joseph Zadow. I am a 30 y/o Bible Blogger. I was new to blogging once! God’s word is the best thing that we can be given, and once we have it and know it for ourselves it is both a privilege and responsibility to bring it to others! We are blessed to be a blessing! I am a sinner (for sure!) saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ and I am a Lord Jesus Christ follower. He is faithful even though I rarely am to him. I believe the Bible is the word of God, and stake my life on it. My destination is heaven. As they say, I’m just a passin’ through this world… although most of the time it’s more like hangin’ by a thread in Jericho! I love playing sports – particularly cricket… I currently work on an orchard and a side hobby business of mine is growing vegetables etc – they are good for you! I love writing. Always happy to talk, so feel free to leave a comment. You can read more about me and my blog here – :)

3 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Dear Ambassadors of God, Joseph, Greetings from India in Jesus our Lord.
    I am a Servant of God.
    Could you please pray for the salvation of the perishing souls in India?

    Thinking you
    Your Servant for Jesus our Lord


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