THE RACE IS NOT TO THE SWIFT
“I returned and saw under the sun that – The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favour to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11 NKJV)
When Ben-Hadad, king of Syria, gathered all his army and went up and besieged Samaria, it resulted in a great famine in the city. The famine was so severe that women started to boil and eat their children.
2 Kings 6:24-30 – NKJV
24 And it happened after this that Ben-Hadad king of Syria gathered all his army, and went up and besieged Samaria.
25 And there was a great famine in Samaria; and indeed they besieged it until a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and one-fourth of a kab of dove droppings for five shekels of silver.
26 Then, as the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried out to him, saying, “Help, my lord, O king!”
27 And he said, “If the LORD does not help you, where can I find help for you? From the threshing floor or from the winepress?”
28 Then the king said to her, “What is troubling you?” And she answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’
29 “So we boiled my son, and ate him. And I said to her on the next day, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him’; but she has hidden her son.”
30 Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he tore his clothes; and as he passed by on the wall, the people looked, and there underneath he had sackcloth on his body.
But when God had mercy upon His people, He caused the Syrian army to hear behind them the noise of chariots and the noise of horses (the noise of a great army), and so fled for their lives.
On hearing the noise of a great army coming behind them, the Syrian said to one another, “Look, the King of Israel had hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians to attack us!” Therefore they arose and fled at twilight, and left the camp intact – their tents, their horses, and their donkeys – and they fled for their lives.” (2 Kings 7:6-7 NKJV).
Though the LORD had put the army of the Syrians to flight and thus brought the severe famine to an abrupt end, yet nobody in the city of Samaria knew about the miracle the LORD had wrought for them. The four lepers at the entrance of the gate of Samaria were the first to find out and enjoy the blessing of God.
2 Kings 7:3-5 – NKJV
3 Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate; and they said to one another, “Why are we sitting here until we die?
4 “If we say, ‘We will enter the city,’ the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore, come, let us surrender to the army of the Syrians. If they keep us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall only die.”
5 And they rose at twilight to go to the camp of the Syrians; and when they had come to the outskirts of the Syrian camp, to their surprise no one was there.
Therefore, these four lepers began to enter into one tent after another to eat and drink. They also carried away from the tents silver and gold and clothing.
Afterward, they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent. If we wait until morning light, some punishment will come upon us. Now therefore, come, let us go and tell the king’s household.” (2 Kings 7:8-9 NKJV).
Though there were mighty men of valor in Samaria’s city, it was lepers (men without strength) who first enjoyed the spoils of war.
Though there were able men in the city, God chose lepers who were the scum or the outcast of the society to spread the good news about His miraculous work to the people in Samaria. Why?
So that no flesh will glory in God’s presence!
1 Corinthians 1:27-29 – NKJV
27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;
28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,
29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.
Like Solomon, it is indeed wisdom to realize early in life that “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favour to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.” (Eccl. 9:11 NKJV).
While we must diligently employ or harness the gifts, talents, skills, or resources that God has given us to fulfill our God-given dreams, visions, callings, or purposes in life; however, we must ultimately rely upon or trust in God for success, and not in our skills, abilities or efforts (Prov. 16:33, 21:31).
The Scripture amply warns against trusting in ourselves.
Psalms 33:16-17 – NKJV
16 No king is saved by the multitude of an army; A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for safety; Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength.
Jeremiah 17:5-6 – NKJV
5 Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the LORD.
6 For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which is not inhabited.
Simon Peter was undoubtedly a highly-skilled, experienced, and diligent fisherman. Yet, he caught nothing despite toiling diligently all night until when he put his trust in Jesus’ Word that he should launch out into the deep and let down his nets for a catch.
Luke 5:1-7 – NKJV
1 So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret,
2 and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets.
3 Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.
4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”
6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.
7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.
Beloved, it is indeed foolishness and pride to trust wholly in your skills, expertise, education, qualifications, experiences, talents, gifting, family background, relationship, strength, or prowess to fulfill your God-given dream, vision, or purpose in life. You must learn to trust wholly in God’s love and faithfulness.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 – NKJV
7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD.
8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.
Friend, as you set out to fulfill your God-given dream, vision, calling, or purpose in life, don’t fall into the “pride trap” of trusting in yourself.
Proverbs 3:5-7 – NKJV
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.
Psalms 37:5-7 – NKJV
5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.
6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday.
7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
It is wisdom to heed these wise admonitions!
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for revealing to me today that the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong in life. From this moment, I choose not to lean on my strength, skills, talents, or efforts, but on You alone in life, in Jesus’ name. Amen.