God is often (around 242 times) described as the LORD of hosts in the Old Testament. The CSB translated this phrase יְהוָ֨ה צְבָא֜וֹת appropriately as “the LORD of armies.” The phrase refers to the angelic “army” which stands at the ready around the throne of God (1 Kings 22:19; 2 Chronicles 18:18; Psalm 148:2). God himself is the commander of this angelic army (Joshua 5:14-15).
“The epithet appears later in connection with a holy war against the Amalekites (1 Sam 15:2). Even more poignantly, this divine name is invoked by David against Goliath: “You have come to me with sword and spear and lance, but I have come to you in the name of YHWH Sebaʾot, the God of the armies of Israel” (1 Sam 17:45).”
Zechariah 14 is a great description of God as the Divine Warrior. The first battle is described in verses 1-2 where God punished Jerusalem herself for her sins. Then after the Divine Warrior punished his own people, he would raise them up by destroying the pagan nations around them.
Habakkuk also described God as the Divine Warrior going out to battle for his people. Habakkuk wrote:
“The mountains saw you and writhed; the raging waters swept on; the deep gave forth its voice; it lifted its hands on high. The sun and moon stood still in their place at the light of your arrows as they sped, at the flash of your glittering spear. You marched through the earth in fury; you threshed the nations in anger. You went out for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed. You crushed the head of the house of the wicked, laying him bare from thigh to neck” (Habakkuk 3:10-13).
As we think about Memorial Day and our great veterans who served and are still sacrificing for our safety, we should also remember the LORD of Armies who goes out for his glory and our good.
C. L. Seow, “Hosts, Lord of,” ed. David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 306.