JEHOVAH SABAOTH: the Lord of hosts

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble… The LORD of Hosts is with us.

Cease striving and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth…

The Lord of hosts is with us.

The Meaning of His Name:

I might have mentioned a time or two how fear-prone I have always been. (read more about that here)

Cautious is my middle name; careful defines how I live my life.

I think I have thought of every possible scenario that could happen to one of my kids and warned them in somber tones about this story I just read in the newspaper…

Just letting them know, of course that danger lurks at the seaside and on the highway to the beach and in raw eggs and in crazy-macho-boy-man-showing-off moments of foolishness.

Just in case they hadn’t thought of that.

But I had an airhead moment many years ago where I forgot all my cautionary advice for just a few seconds and did the unthinkable- I opened my door to a stranger.

As I remember it, the day was a typically lovely day where we lived in Santa Cruz, California. The fog had burnt off around noon and now my kids were playing in the backyard with friends while their mother and I chatted on the sofa. Barbara was a doll-sized woman with a personality as big and bold as a warrior. Mostly when Barbara talked, I laughed- her hilarious recounting of everyday life situations, which she seemed to regularly encounter made my safe life sound tediously boring.

In the midst of our talking someone started pounding on the front door. And I do mean pounding. Like a sledgehammer on steel, the sound had me jumping off the sofa and rushing to investigate before I had a chance to think.

Instead of peeping through the hole to see who was on the other side (a safety precaution I’d insisted my husband install just in case…), I flung the door open to see who dared interrupt my day. And what I saw nearly took my breath away.

A man. A BIG man. A VERY BIG man with a very big black dog by his side.

Rooted to the spot, I could only stare as this VERY BIG man began to swing his arms in angry gestures and rant through tight clenched teeth,

Where’s Diane? They told me Diane was here… where’s Diane?

In the strangest voice, he mumbled and shouted all at once, pointing to his dog, demanding an answer, insisting he see DIANE. Meanwhile his big black dog swirled in agitated circles as if searching for a hidden enemy, barking, jumping, and moaning with the man.

I stood frozen with fear, my front door wide open, oblivious to caution and carefulness and common sense.

At just the moment the VERY BIG man stepped towards me, my tiny friend, Barbara came to the rescue. Leaping off the sofa a few feet away, Barbara ran to the door, shoved me unceremoniously aside, and slammed that door shut with a bang that could be heard miles away- all the while shouting, There’s no Diane here! Go away!

Still trembling, we snuck to a window to see where the man and his dog had gone. He stood there, shaking his unkempt black hair, muttering, looking up from time to time, as if arguing with someone by the front door. A great debate raged for several seconds between the man, his frothing dog, and some invisible adversary.

When he finally left, both of us crumpled to the floor in a uniquely female mixture of hysteria-laced hilarity. We were laughing and crying and shaking and completely beside ourselves with the ridiculous horror of it all.

I never did find out who that man was. I did discover that he’d gone from door to door in my neighborhood inquiring incoherently about Diane. My brother-in-law, Jack (who lived next door), politely pointed him to my house and then wondered what in the world his pip-squeak of a sister-in-law would have to do with a man like that… thanks Jack!

I believe that God sent His angels to protect me that day.

Me, who’d always been so careful to protect myself, needed His help. I think the invisible adversary the man was arguing with was a guard placed by God beside my door to stop the man from whatever havoc he intended to wreck.

He kept me safe when I didn’t know how.

And that’s what this Name is all about. Yahweh Sabaoth. LORD of Hosts.

The first one to discover this Name of God was a suffering woman who lived in the midst of fear-filled times. Her name was Hannah and she wanted a son more than anything else in the world. Hannah’s inability to conceive left her not only lonely and heartbroken— it also left her at the mercy of her husband’s nasty second wife. More than that, however, was the uncertainty of her future. In the absence of social security, a son was charged with the care of his parents in their old age. To be barren meant to die destitute.

Hannah, “greatly distressed”, “wept and would not eat”. She prayed to the Lord as she “wept bitterly” at the alter in the Temple… and “the Lord remembered her and it came about in due time… that she gave birth to a son; and named him Samuel.” (see her story in I Samuel 1,2)

LORD Sabaoth answered.

Decades later, Hannah’s baby boy would grow up to be the prophet-priest who anointed David king over all God’s people. And King David sang song after song about this LORD of Hosts whose protection defined logic.

Then came the pleas of Isaiah and Jeremiah and Zechariah and Hosea and Amos and Micah and Naham and Habakkuk and Zephaniah and Haggai and Zechariah and Malachi.

Men who saw where God’s people were headed and after warning, begging, pleading, urging them back to His heart, finally just placed them in His hands… the hands of the LORD of Hosts.

This is a Name for those long nights of waiting for someone you love to step back into the circle of His love and your care.

This is a Name for when you are unable to protect even yourself. For those moments when you open the door… and this One steps in to rescue you from your own foolishness.

This is a Name for those times when all your warnings and cautionary tactics fail.  When the one you love doesn’t listen. When all you can do is leave her in His hands.

This is the Name for when that VERY BIG man comes too close and you don’t know what to do.

Yahweh Sabaoth. The LORD of Hosts.

Hiding safe in this Name,


Do you have any real life stories of when God stepped in to rescue you without explanation?

Would you share those stories with us to strengthen our fear-prone tendencies to think we’ve got to be so very, very careful?

I’d love to hear.