We get insight to three tribes in the genealogical lists of 1 Chronicles 5. We’re told about the tribes of the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh.
The big story in this list of names is the mighty warriors of these three tribes. These were experts at war, we’re told. They knew how to use swords and bows. They go to war, a war that was ordained by God, and they have a great victory. We’re told they are experts at war, but we’re also told why they got the victory: “For they cried out to God in the battle, and he granted their urgent plea, because they trusted in him.”
They didn’t win the battle because of their expertise. They won because they trusted in God, because they knew their weakness and asked for help. They weren’t prevailing. They felt the urgent need to cry out to God.
We need to not rely on our so-called expertise. It’s filthy rags next to what God offers. Our strongest aspects are weak and piddling next to God. There is no good thing in us apart from God. There is no strength to accomplish his works, only our meager efforts. The only truly successful outcome is to let His life live through you. That’s the only way to produce true, lasting results.
These men might have been experts, and at one point they call on God and trust in him, but the family line continues.
We come to a descendant of Reuben named Baal. That doesn’t sound good. He was named to honor a false god. His son gets carried off in the exile.
We’re told they broke faith with the God of their fathers and went after the gods of the land, the gods of the people they had destroyed, that God had rescued them from.
But that part got forgotten.
They remembered their might. They remembered their victory. They forgot the God who rescued them. They were told the story of victory without the story of trust and obedience, of thanks and praise to the one who gave them the land. And because of it, they lost the land.