The Harod Valley—Your Overwhelming Anxiety Finds its Peace

Truths as enduring as the beautiful settings in which they occurred.

It’s amazing how history repeats itself in our lives. We think we’ve learned to deal with overwhelming anxiety, but each new day offers a new challenge we never would have expected.

The Harod Valley—Your Overwhelming Anxiety Finds its Peace

(Photo: The Harod Valley. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In ancient Israel, the Harod Valley gave stage to two sets of desperate situations. From threats to insecurities to death and hopelessness, in every case the overwhelming anxiety found its peace only one way.

It’s the same with your overwhelming anxiety today.

The Harod Valley—The Shaft of the Jezreel Valley’s Arrow

At the southeastern side of the Jezreel Valley, Mount Gilboa stretches west like a fence that marked the northernmost boundary of the tribe of Manasseh.

Because the valley hosted the most important crossroads for the International Highway in Israel, the mountain range of Mount Gilboa offered a strategic high ground for the nation’s defense.

From above, the Jezreel Valley gives the geographic shape of an arrowhead pointed to the northwest.

The Jezreel Valley

(The Jezreel Valley is shaped like an arrow; the Harod Valley is the shaft. Map courtesy of Satellite Bible Atlas)

  • The form seems almost prophetic, as the area has given stage to numerous battles in history.
  • Strategy for the future “Battle of Armageddon” also promises to occur in this area (Revelation 16:16).
  • The “shaft” of the Jezreel Valley’s arrow represents a smaller valley that runs eastward between Mount Gilboa and the Hill of Moreh. This vale has the name “Harod Valley” and expands more than six miles east toward Beth-shean, meeting the Jordan Valley.

Overwhelming Anxiety 1: Gideon at Ein Harod

At the base of Mount Gilboa, a spring still flows today as it has for millennia.

  • Green grass, a swimming pool, and beautiful picnic spots surround the spring that takes its name from the valley that spreads before it.
  • Ein Harod, or sometimes called, “Gideon’s Spring,” represents the place where Gideon selected his three hundred men to fight the armies of Midian. (I always remember Gideon fought Midian because their names rhyme.)

The Bible describes the geography of Gideon’s position with clarity:

Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him, rose early and camped beside the spring of Harod; and the camp of Midian was on the north side of them by the hill of Moreh in the valley (Judges 7:1).

All of these geographical landmarks are still visible and allow the visitor to recreate the scene in his or her mind.

Ein Harod with soldiers drinking

(Photo: Ein Harod with soldiers drinking. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

God had already promised Gideon a great victory, but the fearful judge asked for confirmation. Even after God graciously gave Gideon the reassurance he requested, he still struggled to believe he would have victory against such overwhelming odds.

  • 135,000 Midianites camped just across the valley, and the Lord thinned out Gideon’s ranks in order to expose his fear.
  • The reduction of troops at Ein Harod cut Gideon’s army down to impossible odds: 450 to 1!

Not surprisingly, the Lord gave Israel a great victory—and strengthened Gideon’s faith.

Overwhelming Anxiety 2: Saul at Mount Gilboa

Years later, a fearful King Saul failed to learn the lesson Gideon acquired in the same area.

On the northern side of the Hill of Moreh, the city of Endor had a resident medium whom Saul visited in a frantic attempt for supernatural information. Surprising even the medium, God revealed through the Prophet Samuel that Saul would die the next day (1 Samuel 28).

Mount Gilboa and the Harod Valley looking east toward Beth-shean

(Photo: Mount Gilboa where Saul died and the Harod Valley. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The army of Israel fought the Philistines on Mount Gilboa, and King Saul and his sons were killed. Their bodies hung in effigy on the walls of nearby Beth-shean until Hebrews from Jabesh-gilead reclaimed them (1 Samuel 31).

Overwhelming Anxiety 3–4: Elisha and Jesus at the Hill of Moreh

Centuries later, the southern slope of the Hill of Moreh saw the Prophet Elisha raise the dead son of a woman from Shunem (2 Kings 4).

In the first century, Jesus raised a widow’s son on the north side of the Hill of Moreh in a town called Nain (Luke 7:11-17). (I keep the locations of the sites around the Hill of Moreh straight by remembering a simple alliteration: Nain-north and Shunem-south.)

The Harod Valley—Your Overwhelming Anxiety Finds its Peace

(Photo: The city of Nain, left, on the slope of the Hill of Moreh. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Overwhelming Anxiety Finds its Peace

How fascinating that two sets of desperate situations occurred in the same area.

  1. For Gideon and Saul, it was tremendous odds in battle at Gilboa.
  2. For Elisha and Jesus, it was the death of a mother’s son beside the Hill of Moreh.

In every instance, the lessons pointed to the same principle: Only God provides peace in overwhelming situations—even whey they are as crushing as death.

The Harod Valley

(Photo: The Harod Valley. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The Harod Valley, the Hill of Moreh, and Mount Gilboa seem as beautiful and ageless today as in the days of the Bible. Geography doesn’t change.

The lessons taught in these places offer truths as enduring as the beautiful settings in which they occurred.

Question: What gives you peace in the face of overwhelming anxiety? To leave a comment, just click here.

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  • gary strydom

    Dear Wayne
    your letter could not have arrived at a more appropriate time;I am experiencing absolutely overwhelming depression and anxiety and it is extremely frustrating when God is not answering my prayers for peace,at least not in the way I expect it;and I ask;WHY???
    possible answers;
    He doesn’t hear me
    He hears but doesn’t care;even though He is well capable,it is not in His will
    He is too busy
    There is too much sin in my life or sins that have not been forgiven
    My faith is not strong enough

    Somewhere in the bible it says that God will not test us more than we can endure;well,I am sorry ,but I am way past that point of endurance,the “breaking point”.The fruits/gifts of the Holy Spirit is supposed to be peace,joy,etc; if I am not experiencing that,is it because I do not have the Holy Spirit and, if so,why not and how do I obtain it??

    HELP!!!!

    Gary

    • Gary, I’m sorry to hear about your struggling heart with depression. Of course, there are no immediate solutions to a situation that’s taken years to get into. I’ve written a post about what I’ve found helpful not to do when feeling depressed. You might also consider going to a good Christian counselor in your area. It also sounds like you may be listening to some lies many Christians believe. Hopefully these posts will encourage you. More than anything, you need to know you’re not alone. If you’ve not yet read my new book, Waiting on God, I think it would also answer some of the issues you’ve mentioned here. God bless you, Gary. I’m praying for you, my friend.

  • Maridee Sellarole

    Years ago, a very wise woman told me to keep a thankfulness journal. To my shame I have not been real faithful but God has showered us with so many blessings and so much love throughout this move to California so I took the time to record them all lest I forget His love and care the next time anxiety strikes. Thanks for your blog Wayne – always uplifting.

    • You’re welcome, Maridee. You know, it’s too late to start keeping that journal. 🙂 There’s more of God’s faithfulness to come. We used to keep what we called “matchbox blessings.” The idea was we would write what God did for us that year, fold it up, and keep it in a matchbox with the year on it. Then we’d pull it out for encouragement. Might need to start that up again too. 🙂

    • Good grief, Maridee. I just realized my first response to you said, “It’s too late to start keeping a journal.” Sheesh. I meant to say, “It’s not too late . . .”! Sorry. 🙂

  • Veronica Buxton

    There is a great Hill above our house called white horse Hill and an old Hill fort just at the top. I walk to the top and as I get my breath back I look around where one can see for 20 miles on a clear day. I then walk around the top of the hill. Sing praise songs, shout and sing in tongues. It clears all the muck out. If I can’t get there I say I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills where st cometh my help my help cometh even from the Lord who made heaven and earth and I try and picture the hill – smell the clean air – feel the wind blow and know how big God is. Not easy but the best thing is praise

    • That sounds like a fabulous place, Veronica. There’s nothing like nature for taking a deep breath. I loved reading these details. Thanks.

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