2 Chronicles 14:11-12
And Asa cried to the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with you to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power…
This King Asa, Rehoboam's grandson, had had a long reign of peace, which the writer of the Book of Chronicles traces to the fact that he had rooted out idolatry from Judah. "The land had rest, and he had no war... because the Lord had given him rest." But their came a time when the war-cloud began to roll threateningly over the land, and a great army came up against him. Like a wise man he made his military dispositions first, and prayed next. This prayer contains the very essence of what ought to be the Christian attitude in reference to all the conditions and threatening dangers and conflicts of life.
I. THE WHOLESOME CONSCIOUSNESS OF OUR OWN IMPOTENCE. It did not take much to convince Asa that he had "no power." His army, according to the numbers given of the two hosts, was outnumbered two to one. If we look fairly in the face our duties, our tasks, our dangers, the possibilities of life and its certainties, the more humbly we think of our own capacity, the more wisely we shall think about God, and the more truly we shall estimate ourselves. The world says "Self-reliance is the conquering virtue." Jesus says to us, "Self-distrust is the condition of all victory." And that does not mean any mere shuffling off of responsibility from our own shoulders, but it means looking the facts of our lives, and of our own characters, in the face. And if we will do that, however apparently easy may be our course, and however richly endowed in mind, body, or estate we may be, we shall find that we each are like "the man with ten thousand" that has to meet "the King that comes against him with twenty thousand"; and we shaft not "desire conditions of peace" with our enemy, for that is not what in this ease we have to do, but we shall look about us, and not keep our eyes on the horizon, and on the levels of earth, but look up to see if there is not there an ally that we can bring into the field to redress the balance, and to make our ten as strong as the opposing twenty. Now all that is true about the disproportion between the foes we have to face and fight and our own strength. It is eminently true about us Christian people, if we are doing any work for our Master. You hear people say, "Look at the small number of professing Christians in this country, as compared with the numbers on the other side. What is the use of their trying to convert the world?" If the Christian Church had to undertake the task of Christianising the world with its own strength, we might well threw up the sponge and stop altogether. "We have no might." But we are not only numerically weak. A multitude of non-effectives, mere camp-followers, loosely attached, nominal Christians have to be deducted from the muster-roll. So a profound self-distrust is our wisdom. But it is not to paralyse us, but to lead to something better, as it led Asa.
II. SUMMONING GOD INTO THE WORLD SHOULD FOLLOW WHOLESOME SELF-DISTRUST. Asa uses a remarkable expression, which is, perhaps, scarcely reproduced adequately in another verse, "It is nothing with Thee to help, whether with many or with them that have no power." It is a strange phrase, but it seems most probable that the suggested rendering in the Revised Version is nearer the writer's meaning, which says, "Lord! there is none beside Thee to help between the mighty and them that have no power," which to our ears is a somewhat cumbrous way of saying that God, and God only, can adjust the difference between the mighty and the weak. Asa turns to God and says, "Thou only canst trim the scales and make the heavy one the lighter of the two by casting Thy might into it. So help us, O Lord, our God." One man with God at his back is always in the majority. There is encouragement for people who have to fight unpopular causes in the world. The consciousness of weakness may unnerve a man; and that is why people in the world are always patting each other on the back and saying, "Be of good cheer, and rely upon yourself." But the self-distrust that turns to God becomes the parent of a far more reliable self-reliance than that which trusts to men. My consciousness of need is my opening the door for God to come in. Just as you always find the lakes in the hollows, so you will always find the grace of God coming into men's hearts to strengthen them and make them victorious, when there has been the preparation of the lowered estimate of one's self. Hollow out your heart by self-distrust, and God will fill it with the flashing waters of His strength bestowed. The way by which we summon God into the field: Asa prays, "Help us, O Lord, our God, for we rest on Thee"; and the word that he employs for "rest" is not a very frequent one. It carries with it a very striking picture. It is used in that tragical story of the death of Saul, when the man that saw the last of him came to David and drew in a sentence the pathetic picture of the wearied, wounded, broken-hearted, discrowned, desperate monarch leaning on his spear. You can understand how hard he leaned, with what a grip he held it, and how heavily his whole, languid, powerless weight pressed upon it. And that is the word that is used here. "We lean on Thee" as the wounded Saul leaned upon his spear. Is that a picture of your faith?
III. COURAGEOUS ADVANCE SHOULD FOLLOW SELF-DISTRUST AND SUMMONING GOD BY FAITH. It is well when self-distrust leads to confidence. But that is not enough. It is better when self-distrust and confidence in God lead to courage. And as Asa goes on, "Help us, for we rely on Thee, and in Thy name we go against this multitude." Never mind though it is two to one. What does that matter? Prudence and calculation are well enough, but there is a great deal of very rank cowardice and want of faith in Christian people, both in regard to their own lives and in regard to Christian work in the world, which goes masquerading under much too respectable a name, and calls itself "judicious caution" and "prudence." If we have God with us, let us be bold in fronting the dangers and difficulties that beset us, and be sure that He will help us.
IV. THE ALL-POWERFUL PLEA WHICH GOD WILL ANSWER. "Thou art my God, let not man prevail against Thee." That prayer covers two things. You may be quite sure that if God is your God you will not be beaten; and you may be quite sure that if you have made God's cause yours He will make your cause His, and again you will not be beaten. "Thou art our God." "It takes two to make a bargain," and God and we have both to act before He is truly ours. He gives Himself to us, but there is an act of ours required, too, and you must take the God that is given to you, and make Him yours because you make yourselves His. And when I have taken Him for mine, and not unless I have, He is mine, to all intents of strength-giving and blessedness.
(A. Maclaren, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee.
WEB: Asa cried to Yahweh his God, and said, "Yahweh, there is none besides you to help, between the mighty and him who has no strength. Help us, Yahweh our God; for we rely on you, and in your name are we come against this multitude. Yahweh, you are our God. Don't let man prevail against you."