the battle belongs to you night sky

The Battle Belongs to the Lord

The Battle Belongs to the Lord

The Battle Belongs to the Lord, by Phil Wickham, is based on an account in 2 Chronicles 20, in the Old Testament. This portion of scripture tells how God actually fought on behalf of a particular righteous king, Jehoshaphat.

It’s an amazing story, one which gives believers confidence in God’s very real interest, power, and intervention in the battles we face. We love to sing it out: “The battle belongs to the Lord! Don’t fear, don’t be dismayed–your God is not only with you, but He is doing battle for you! Trust! Rejoice!”

However, like so much of scripture, it’s super easy to grab a story out of context, sing it out, claiming its story line as our own, and still lose more battles than we like. More about that later.

But first, here’s what happened, back then, in Old Testament days. The people of Judah and their king, Jehoshaphat, faced what sure looked like an insurmountable foe. Invading armies had come to kill them all.

The capital city (Jerusalem) housed both the kings palace, and more importantly, the temple of God. These hordes were coming to lay siege on this beloved city. What do you suppose Jehoshaphat did?

Well, the Word tells us that the king “was alarmed, and set his face to seek the Lord.” He sought after God’s help; and told all the people to come to the temple and plead with God for salvation. The king rallied his people: let’s do battle on our knees!

So he pronounced a fast, and all the people came to pray to God (the account says that men came from every city in Judah to entreat God’s mercy). Here is some of King Jehoshaphat’s prayer the day they gathered, pouring their hearts out to God. (The entire chapter is awesome, why not turn there now?)

The Text

5“Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem in the house of the LORD in front of the new courtyard and said,

“O LORD, God of our fathers, are You not the God who is in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations?

Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can stand against You…Our God, will You not judge them?

For we are powerless before this vast army that comes against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

During this prayer, all the men of Judah, with their wives and children, were standing before the LORD. Read how God answered this heartfelt supplication…

14Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite from Asaph’s descendants, as he stood in the midst of the assembly.

And he said, “Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the LORD says: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army, for the battle does not belong to you, but to God.

Tomorrow you are to march down against them. You will see them coming up the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley facing the Wilderness of Jeruel. You need not fight this battle. Take up your positions, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out and face them tomorrow, for the LORD is with you.’”

Can you imagine hearing this prophecy? How encouraged they were! They believed God. In fact, the people’s response was resolute faith, complete with worship and praise. Keep reading:

18Then Jehoshaphat bowed facedown, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down before the LORD to worship Him. And the Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up to praise the LORD, the God of Israel, shouting in a very loud voice.

The next day, those people of God stood firm, and the king sent singing priests, clothed with the garments of praise, at the head of their army.

20 Early in the morning they got up and left for the Wilderness of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood up and said, “Hear me, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be upheld; believe in His prophets, and you will succeed.

Then Jehoshaphat consulted with the people and appointed those who would sing to the LORD and praise the splendor of His holiness. As they went out before the army, they were singing:

“Give thanks to the LORD,

for His loving devotion endures forever.”

As they gave thanks to the Lord for His enduring love, their enemies began fighting each other and were routed! Just as God had said.

22 The moment they began their shouts and praises, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir who had come against Judah, and they were defeated. The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction. And when they had made an end to the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

Portions of 2 Chronicles 20 (Berean Standard Bible)

The Song

The chorus to Wickham’s song really gets the feel of that day long ago, don’t you think? This chorus is a great set of “marching orders” as we face our battles. Take a look:

So when I fight, I’ll fight on my knees
With my hands lifted high
Oh God, the battle belongs to You
And every fear I lay at Your feet
I’ll sing through the night
Oh God, the battle belongs to You

I really love this song; in fact I put the words to this chorus up in my room to remind me where I need to go, in every single battle. Go to prayer, go to God, live in His peace, enjoy His presence, and trust Him to intervene on your behalf. Our prayers are powerful warfare, in the heavenly realms where we cannot see. Read how James puts it:

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power to prevail. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth yielded its crops.

James 5:16-18 (Berean Standard Bible)


Phil Wickham’s Battle Belongs does, however, raise some concerns. There is always the possibility of falling into error, when we “claim” a passage we like, and decide that it fits into our present situation. And so while I applaud Wickham’s message of fighting battles through prayer, we want our posture—on our knees—to also be about surrendering the outcome to God. After all, HE IS GOD. Not my will, but thine be done, our Lord Jesus modeled on the night when he was betrayed and arrested.

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me—nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

Luke 22:42 (CSB)

He may not answer our prayers like he did for Jehoshaphat. He will do as He wills.


If we were to go back into the book of Chronicles a little deeper (studying surrounding context) we would find that this is chapter is only one where we find God present in an interactive manner, with the kings, the prophets, and the people.

God was clearly willing to help out a people yielded to Him, and zealous for Him and His ways. When the people were zealous, and burned the idols and smashed the evil shrines, they demonstrated a pursuit of God and His righteous standards that pleased God. When they turned to Him, seeking after Him and His ways, He “let Himself be found” by them. Read these chapters! They are gold: 2 Chronicles 14-16 … you’ll see what I mean about God waiting to be sought.

But when the people ignored God, didn’t bother to worship Him or care about what He cares about, despised His warnings and His precepts, fallowed after surrounding nation’s false gods and their evil practices, God allowed them to suffer according to their deeds.

And, in many instances, we find God directing various kings to fight, or not to fight. He might say to an inquiry by a righteous king, “Yes. Go fight in this battle. You will prevail.”

The important point to bear in mind is that we are servant/warriors who need to remain in a posture of seeking God. He is our Sovereign King who allows Himself to be found.

How else can we possibly obey the first commandment, the one Jesus said was the most important of all?

“Now one of the scribes had come up and heard their debate. Noticing how well Jesus had answered them, he asked Him, ‘Which commandment is the most important of all?’

Jesus replied, ‘This is the most important: “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”’”

Mark 12:29-30

The Deal

When the people rejected Him, He responded in kind. They sought Him, contrite and heartfelt, and He not only forgave them, but He fought for them, sending down protection and blessing like a beautiful garment to cover His beloved, faithful people.

We do well to recall, especially with so many modern worship songs coming over the airwaves and even in our churches, that God is not some great big good fairy in the sky ready to fight all of our battles, and make our lives oh-so-triumphant, as we glide from one victory to the next with faith in His ability to step in and save us/serve us.

He doesn’t seem to be applying for the position of cosmic good fairy. He does, however, reserve the right to act like the Supreme Being, Creator of everything, infinite, eternal, all-powerful living God.

If we live in disobedience to His commands, and if we do not have hearts that are seeking Him, what do you think: would He, should He, deliver such a people?

A Life of Warfare

Does God fight all our battles? Does he insure victory, always? Does he conquer the enemy on our behalf? Sure, sometimes He does just that.

And, sometimes He doesn’t. Sometimes he tests us, (Hebrews 11:7) to see if our hearts are right before Him. Sometimes He makes us wield the weapons of our warfare, the ones He gave us, and insists that we use (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Sometimes he allows great calamity, great trials. He does so to develop us into the sons and daughters of God, children that resemble more and more our heavenly Father. Read on:

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds,

because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:2-4

It appears that He wants us, His church, His body on earth, to fight, too.

A “Battle Belongs” Verse

I gotta admit it; this particular verse in Wickham’s song makes me squirm, just a bit. And only because I worry for those who aren’t reading their Bibles, aren’t grounded in scripture, and maybe take words like the ones in this verse as the only bit of doctrine they hear about God, and battles, and trials. Because though this verse contains some truth, it cannot stand alone.

Almighty fortress, You go before us
Nothing can stand against the power of our God
You shine in the shadow, You win every battle
Nothing can stand against the power of our God

I mean, yes, God is our mighty fortress. No question. And yes, He goes before us. He is all powerful. He does shine in the shadows. (Corrie Ten Boom would tell you that!)

And yet, although He has absolutely won the war over sin and death as the victorious Lion of Judah, and will demonstrate His victory one day, does He “win every battle”? The skirmishes that He has permitted us to fight, the ones that provide practice for us to exercise our warrior muscles–are all of these battles won?

Does He not also allow us to fail, falter, fall flat on our faces?

I think so. For example, what about

  • the battle to reclaim your peace when you are afraid?
  • the battle for your mind, as you determine whether you will really take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ?
  • the battle to pursue God, seek Him, and get to know Him by reading the Word, when your “busy” life or apathy says, “naw …”?
  • the battle to overcome bitterness, envy, pride?


My friends, these are battles we fight with the power of the Holy Spirit, yielding, surrendering fully to His great authority, His headship, His kingship over every area of our lives!

And I’m sad to say it-there is indeed something that can stand against the power of our God. It’s your will, and it’s mine.

Our stubborn refusal to seek Him, obey Him, and love Him? Yup. We can resist Him, to our defeat, and His disappointment.

When we resist Him, does He still fight our battles? Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?

Fight On Our Knees

So let’s take another look now at this wonderful chorus. These lyrics invite us to join the fray.

Swords out, shields up, we fight with God in the battle. Here is how we fight the good fight…

  • We are told to pray. That is a mighty weapon.
  • We are told to have faith. That is a warrior’s weapon, as well.
  • And we are instructed to worship, even as the Levites did in battle.

And this is exactly what this chorus instructs us to do!

We “fight on our knees” in prayer, we proclaim His faithfulness even as we “sing through the night,” and “with hands lifted high” we worship, proclaiming Him, our victor.

But let’s also live out our days daily seeking Him, loving Him, and devoted to a life of yielded obedience, too!

Sing it out, sing it over your battles, sing it today.

And pop over to the playlist if you want to sing even more.

Phil Wickham - Battle Belongs (Official Lyric Video)

Writer/s: Brian Johnson, Philip David Wickham
Publisher: Songtrust Ave