Standing on the peak of the mountain outcropping, Shalish scanned the battlefield. The noonday sun glinted off armor as the battle raged on in the valley below. Lord Nissi, the great voice who had led them through both sea and desert, had trained Shalish and several of her friends for years. But the throes of their first combat were more taxing than they had imagined.
Yet Shalish was positioned above the battlefield for a reason. Lord Nissi had given her a gold cord to wear around her wrist, saying, “My presence goes with you. Remember me.” Now, when Shalish kept her cord raised above her head, their victory seemed sure. But her right hand had long since fallen asleep, and her muscles spasmed as she struggled to keep her wrist high above her head. She trembled at the thought that keeping her gold cord raised would be the difference between victory and defeat.
When she had momentarily lowered her hand an hour ago, it had almost cost Ezrah his life. Shalish could only watch in horror as the enemy’s sword slashed just below the gap in his armor, Ezrah’s crimson blood flowing.
Ezrah and Merea were two of her closest friends. Shalish scanned the battlefield for Merea’s fiery red curls, concerned that she had not seen her friend in a while. But then another spasm shot through her arm, and in despair she cried out, “Lord Nissi, my strength has run dry—please, help your people!”
A gentle footfall caused Shalish to whirl around, her right hand still raised, her sword at the ready in her left. “Shay, you need help.” Merea’s brown eyes reflected concern.
“But Merea, you’re needed on the battlefield!”
“I’m needed right here.” Merea reached up and intertwined her bronze cord with Shalish’s gold one, supporting the weight of her friend’s arm. Shalish felt immediate relief, and she let out a sigh as she leaned on her friend.
Sunset was quickly approaching, and the task of keeping the cords held high over the battle was once more becoming too difficult. But then, Ezrah wordlessly joined them on the mountain, tying his silver cord to theirs. Shalish couldn’t even lift her head, and Merea laughed in delirious relief. Supported by her friends, Shalish felt Lord Nissi’s presence around them.
As the setting sun splashed vivid pinks, golds, and dark hues of purple across the sky, a cry of victory rang out. Ezrah smiled at his friends, joy etched on his glistening face. Then he reminded them of Lord Nissi’s words: “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” • Savannah Coleman
• Today’s allegorical story is based on Exodus 17, when the Amalekites attacked the Israelites. God had just delivered His people from slavery in Egypt. When they came to the Red Sea, God told Moses to raise his staff, and God parted the waters so the people could pass through. Yet, not long after this, the people asked, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (verse 7). So, when the Amalekites attacked, Moses stood over the battle on the top of the hill with the staff of God raised in his hands (verse 9). Whenever Moses’s hands lowered, the Israelites started losing the fight (verse 11), and he inevitably grew tired. Thankfully, Moses had two friends, Aaron and Hur, to help hold his hands up as he held the staff until the battle was won (verses 12-13). Then Moses built an altar and called it “Yahweh Nissi” which means “The Lord is my banner” (verse 15). (The Hebrew word for “banner” is very similar to the word for “staff.”) God had saved His people once again and confirmed that He was indeed with them. Can you think of a time you were reminded of God’s presence with you? Consider taking a moment to thank Him for this.
• In Exodus 17, we catch a glimpse of the gospel, God’s plan to deliver His people from sin and death. Jesus is Immanuel, which literally means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). When He went to the cross for us, His hands were stretched out—kind of like Moses’s hands were stretched out when he held up his staff. So, whenever we start to wonder, “Is God with us or not?” we can look to Jesus. He died on the cross and rose from the grave, defeating sin and death so that God’s people can live with Him forever. If we’ve put our trust in Jesus, we are part of God’s people! How can we remind each other that Jesus is with us, especially when life gets really hard?
• Who are trusted Christians in your life who can remind you of the good news about Jesus, support you in following His good ways, and help shoulder your burdens? Who can you support in this way? (Galatians 6:1-10; Ephesians 6:12; 1 Peter 5:10-12)
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV)