El Shaddai, Almighty - 1 Samuel 17:45

I mentioned in an early article, Make the Most of your Bible Reading Time, that it can be helpful to read an alternate version or language. One of the reasons I feel that way is the name ‘almighty’ in Italian. Almighty always conjured the strength of one. Frankly it wasn’t easy to fully comprehend the power of God in that word Almighty. Somehow, I felt that the power of one stretched over the earth and all that needs doing left everyone with less.

The name Almighty in original Hebrew is generally translated as El Shaddai. This is generally taken to be sufficient, omnipotent, and sometimes even violent. My idea of sufficient is something that barely covers the need; it just doesn’t say might to me. Omnipotent is clearly all-powerful, but that idea of violence makes me flinch. Violence has its place, but rarely in my life. So, I guess I am not so surprised that my understanding of Almighty was limited.

But Almighty in Italian is translated ‘Signore degli Eserciti’, Lord of the Armies. For me, Lord of the Armies prompts an image of immense power. His power cascading down to the armies of heaven and earth. This struck me in such a way that it changed the name Almighty for me, it changed the word omnipotent as well. His power is not limited by his singularity but is instead multiplied across his armies. Wow.

In Genesis 49:25 (NIV), we find this power behind a blessing, ‘because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and womb.’ I can barely imagine the blessing of the Lord of the Armies who sends his blessings. They are unstoppable and indisputable. His blessings arrive at their destination with His power, not only his might, but all might behind them.

I’ve also shared a bit about Saul and Goliath. One of the things that Saul neglected to do was ensure the Almighty’s involvement in the flight with the Philistines. Contrastingly, David brings God in immediately, ‘David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied’ (1 Samuel 17:45). That Saul had not included God in this fight is blaring, and clearly left him with no power, despite an army behind him. It was the introduction of the Almighty, well known by his child David, who made the difference in the fight. We too need to call on him in our time of need, when the enemy is lined up in front of us or hidden in the mess we find ourselves in.

His power is omnipotent, unlimited. But more than that, his power descends on his armies and on his people. His power is for us, it amplifies his blessings and it conquers enemies. His power is able to do more than we can imagine. Call on him in your need and rejoice with him in good.

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