Lord of Hosts

"And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there." (1 Samuel 1:3)

This majestic name of God, "Lord of hosts" (Hebrew, Jehovah Sabaoth), occurs almost 240 times in the Bible, first of all in our text above. It is noteworthy that Elkanah, the father of Samuel, understood this name of God better than did the wicked priests, the two sons of Eli. The name occurs only once in the New Testament, speaking of oppressed laborers crying to "the Lord of sabaoth" (James 5:4).

A similar name, "God of hosts," occurs nine times, the first in Psalm 80:7: "Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved." The combined name "LORD God of hosts" is used about 25 times, first in 2 Samuel 5:10: "And David went on, and grew great, and the LORD God of hosts was with him."

In all these 270 or so references, the name is used to emphasize the mighty power of God and His great host of angels "that excel in strength, that do his commandments" (Psalm 103:20). Not only is God Himself omnipotent and omniscient (after all, He is the Creator of all things!), but He has "an innumerable company of angels" (Hebrews 12:22) at His call. Occasionally some of these mighty hosts have actually been seen by men, as in the days of Elisha (2 Kings 6:17), and at the birth of Christ (Luke 2:13).

There is evidently an angelic hierarchy among these heavenly hosts. There are the cherubim and seraphim (Genesis 3:24; Isaiah 6:2), for example, as well as "Michael the archangel" (Jude 9) and "Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God" (Luke 1:19). However, the great "captain of the host of the LORD" (Joshua 5:14) is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. He, and He alone, is the true "LORD of hosts." HMM

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