Thoughts on life and Scripture...

Saturday, July 2, 2016

David's Mighty Men

My children love the Asterix and Obelix books. The Gauls have a magic potion which gives them superhuman strength. This enables them to hold off the Roman legions and live in freedom. No matter the size or power of a Roman army, the Gauls can defeat them. One Gaul filled with magic potion can hold off thousands of soldiers. Well, I came across a portion of scripture that seems to come out of the Asterix books. And no, it was not Samson, although, he may be the best example of a man with superhuman strength.

If you would go to the second book of Samuel and the 23rd chapter starting at the 8th verse. There you will read an almost incredible record of some amazing warriors. There is a man who kills 800 men with a spear in one battle. Eleazer was another mighty warrior who stood fast against the Philistine army. He held them off, even as his hand grew weary and clung to his sword. Shammah did much the same feat at another battle. One of David's great warriors, Abishai, killed 300 men in a battle with a spear. Or consider that doer of great deeds, Benaiah. He killed two giant men of Moab as well as killing a lion in a pit on a snowy day. He also killed a great Egyptian by taking his spear and killing him with it. Lastly, three of David's mighty men broke through enemy lines into a Philistine held city to get David a cup of water, and then returned back to David's camp. Reading these military exploits is impressive, even hard to believe. But the question is what does God want us to learn from these heroes of David? Is this recorded to show us how great David and his army was or as an entertaining story? Or is there more?

 While these examples of courage are hard to believe, they shouldn't be. For God promised that Israel would do these kinds of feats of war if they were obedient to Him. One of the blessings that Israel would enjoy if she kept the Mosaic covenant was the defeat of her enemies. Leviticus 26:7-8 says, "You shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand, and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword." God did not just promise victory for obedience, but a supernatural and overwhelming victory since Israel would be able to defeat her foes with only a handful of men. We see this promise kept when Jonathan and his armor bearer attack and defeat a Philistine garrison through their trust in the Lord. 1 Samuel 14. So this list of military exploits by David's men should not surprise us since David and his soldiers are walking in obedience.

It is also important to note that in two of the examples it is stated that the Lord provided the victory. See verse 10 and 12. These men were skilled in war, but their skill and victories came from God. Through His people, God was showing His power in these victories over His enemies. So this story is not so much about David's mighty men as is it about the God of David's mighty men's. He worked powerfully to protect Israel. He was showing His love and kindness to Israel by enabling these warriors to win incredible victories over her enemies. So we learn from this narrative about the loving and powerful God we serve. But there is more for us to learn.

 We too can do great deeds for God's kingdom and honor. Consider the saints who have gone before us. Martin Luther stood up for the gospel and defied the powerful Roman Catholic church and her allies. By his courage and zeal, the Lord brought about the Reformation. George Whitefield and John Wesley preached the gospel to thousands, in spite of great hostilities. God used these men and others to transform Great Britain and America in the Great Awakening. Adoniram Judson left America as one of its first missionaries to go to the land of Burma. There he lost two wives, a number of his children, almost died in prison and suffered bouts of depression. But he translated the Bible into Burmese and the first church in Burma was started. The list could go on. Some of the great deeds of God's people may not seem so glorious as these, but truthfully they are deeds no one could accomplish but by the power of God. How about those who subdue their sin, like some great addiction such as porn or drugs. What about the pastor who continues to preach faithfully even though the harvest is small and he is relatively unknown. Or the mother who trains her children in the wisdom of the Lord and prays constantly for them. There are many examples we could give.

The Christian life of putting to death sin, living holy lives, and walking faithfully with the Lord is impossible for anyone to do. But with the power of Christ and the Holy Spirit, we can be super conquerors. We can do great deeds, but only through the Almighty. We are weak, but He is strong. Our troubles are powerful but God is even greater. This then is the great secret to living out the Christian life with all of its mountains and valleys. "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9.


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