Introduction: This chapter records both David’s ordination as king and many of the mighty men whom David inspired to serve God. David’s ordination was the fulfillment of God’s promise to David that He made 15 years earlier through Samuel. Through David, God would bless Israel, establish an eternal line of kings, and inspire others. From David’s anointing, his victories, and the men who served him, God reveals seven lessons about what He requires from you, including: (1) submission, (2) faith, (3) trust, (4) sacrifice, (5) humility, (6) courage, and (7) service.
First, the tribes of Israel delayed in accepting God’s chosen King of Israel, David. They waited until the last of Saul’s sons died. Their actions delayed God’s blessings. Many make the same mistake in waiting to accept Jesus. God does not want you to delay in accepting Jesus as your King of Kings. Second, because of David’s faith, God allowed David to first free Jerusalem from captivity and then grow in power throughout all of Israel. God will also bless you in the face of conflict when you have faith. Third, David trusted God in the battlefield. His example inspired his mighty men to trust God on the battlefield as well. God also wants you to set the example for others by trusting God during your trials. Fourth, David sacrificed his soldiers’ labors and treasures for God. From this example, God also wants you to sacrifice your time, talent, and treasures for Him. Fifth, David’s mighty men fought for the greater kingdom without receiving honor. Like David’s mighty men, God also wants you to be humble and not seek self-recognition. Sixth, David’s mighty men served God with courage and without fear. Like David’s mighty men, God also wants you to act with courage and without fearing evil when you serve Him. Finally, David inspired many men to serve. God also wants you to have the courage to step forward and serve Him. He also wants you to inspire others to serve Him as well.
The 12 tribes declare David King of all of Israel. After the death of Saul’s last son Ishbosheth, all of the tribes of Israel united behind David and anointed him as their king: “1 Then all Israel gathered to David at Hebron and said, ‘Behold, we are your bone and your flesh. 2 In times past, even when Saul was king, you were the one who led out and brought in Israel; and the Lord your God said to you, ‘You shall shepherd My people Israel, and you shall be prince over My people Israel.’’ 3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the Lord; and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the Lord through Samuel.” (1 Chr. 11:1-3; 2 Sam. 5:1-3). When Saul died, his commander Abner anointed Saul’s last son Ish-bosheth as king in his father’s place. Yet, Samuel and the men of Judah had anointed David king (2 Sam 2:8-9). Israel fought a civil war until Ish-bosheth’s guards killed him (2 Sam. 4:5-6). For seven and one half years, David’s reign was limited to Judah. After Ishbosheth’s death, Abner lobbied the remaining 11 tribes to switch their allegiance to David (2 Sam. 5:3). Ishbosheth’s death and the end of Saul’s line finally caused the elders of the remaining tribes to accept what God had decreed long ago (2 Sam. 4:7). By stating “we are your bone and your flesh” (2 Sam. 5:1), the elders forgave David for previously siding with the Philistines (1 Sam. 27:1-28:2). But they were effectively forgiving David for fleeing from a situation that they had helped to create. They had enabled Saul to remain as king, even when they knew that it was against God’s will. They rejected God as their king and wanted a king like the pagan nations around them. “Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, ‘No, but there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.’” (1 Sam. 8:19-20). God allowed the Jews to suffer under the king they wanted before they accepted the king they needed. At his ordination, an army of more than 340,000 men came to Hebron to anoint David as king and to celebrate (1 Chr. 12:23-40).
The elders submit and accept to David as King of Israel1
Don’t delay in accepting the King of Kings. David had already been anointed twice before this gathering. Samuel anointed him when he was a young man (1 Sam. 16:1-13). The elders of Judah also anointed him following Saul’s death (2 Sam. 2:4). The elders of the 11 tribes previously discounted these events. They also ignored other prophecies. Immediately after David killed Goliath, certain women of faith prophetically sang of David’s future reign as king, where he would kill more enemies of Israel than Saul: “The women sang as they played, and said, ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.’” (1 Sam. 18:7). The servants of the King of Gath later quoted this prophecy to warn that David was a threat to them (1 Sam. 21:11). Thus, if the Jews’ enemies knew of this prophecy, the elders of Israel knew it as well. Chronicles adds to 1 Samuel by stressing that the Jews delayed years and until God removed all of their excuses before they accepted Samuel’s anointing of David as king. “So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the LORD; and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the LORD through Samuel.” (1 Chr. 11:2-3). Many people make the same mistake. They have heard of the many prophecies proclaiming Jesus as the King of Kings (Rev. 19:16). But they delay in acting upon God’s Word until God removes all of their excuses.
Be patient waiting for God’s timing. Exactly 15 years earlier when David was 15 years old, Samuel anointed David as the future King of Israel (1 Sam. 16:13). Yet, David had to wait on God’s timing while He molded David. The elders of Judah also previously anointed David as their king (2 Sam. 2:4). But David would again have to wait additional years for God’s timing. God first molded David as a lowly servant within Saul’s court. David later suffered under Saul’s rule. Yet, God used David’s suffering to both humble him and to mold him to be the future King of Israel: “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” (Is. 48:10; Ps. 66:10; Zech. 13:9(a); Dt. 8:2-3). Like David, God wants you to be patient because He has prepared great plans for you: “Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.” (Ps. 37:7). “I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.” (Ps. 40:1(b)). “I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope.” (Ps. 130:5). Like David, will you patiently wait on God’s timing?
David received his training to be God’s next king through his work as a shepherd. God draws many analogies between David and Jesus. David began his service as the King of Israel at age 30 (2 Sam. 5:4). Jesus also began His service to us as our King of Kings at age 30 (Lk. 3:23). God tested David over his 40-year reign (2 Sam. 5:4), a number which symbolizes God’s testing. God also tested Jesus during His 40-day journey in the wilderness without food (Lk. 4:2). God proclaimed that David would “shepherd My people Israel.” (2 Sam. 5:2). David’s training as a shepherd gave him all of the skills that he would need to be a great future king. “He also chose David His servant and took him from the sheepfolds;” (Ps. 78:70). Jesus also came as the Good Shepherd to find His lost sheep. “But He answered and said, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’” (Matt. 15:24). His leaders were also called upon to love His sheep. “As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day.” (Ezek. 34:12). Like David, will you shepherd God’s sheep?
God picked Israel’s King to serve the King of Kings. At all times, God directed the process in selecting Israel’s king. When Moses prophesied of the day when Israel would demand a king, he warned that God, as the King of Kings, would select their kings: “you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman.” (Dt. 17:17). Moses gave this counsel so that no king would boast that he became king based upon his own merit. The people previously wanted a king “like all the nations” (1 Sam. 8:5). Now, God would pick a king after His heart, not an idolatrous, self-absorbed leader like the other nations. David later showed that he was a man after God’s heart by giving God all the credit for selecting him to be the next king. “Yet, the LORD, the God of Israel, chose me from all the house of my father to be king over Israel forever. For He has chosen Judah to be a leader; and in the house of Judah, my father's house, and among the sons of my father He took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel.” (1 Chron. 28:4). When you are successful in your endeavors and people praise you, do you turn that praise to God?
God is sovereign over all creation and every government. These events also show that God is sovereign and has control over kings, nations, and all time. Daniel explained: “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding.” (Da. 2:21). “He makes the nations great, then destroys them; He enlarges the nations, then leads them away.” (Job 12:23). “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.” (Is. 40:15). “All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.” (Is. 40:17). “But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure His indignation.” (Jer. 10:10). “The LORD is King forever and ever; nations have perished from His land.” (Ps. 10:16). “You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; . . .” (Is. 9:3(a)). “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” (Dan. 4:35). Have you placed your trust in powerful people or in God alone?
God delivered Jerusalem to David for his righteous reign. Because God was with David, David was able to first free Jerusalem from captivity and then grow in power throughout Israel: “4 Then David and all Israel went to Jerusalem (that is, Jebus); and the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, were there. 5 The inhabitants of Jebus said to David, ‘You shall not enter here.” Nevertheless David captured the stronghold of Zion (that is, the city of David). 6 Now David had said, ‘Whoever strikes down a Jebusite first shall be chief and commander.’ Joab the son of Zeruiah went up first, so he became chief. 7 Then David dwelt in the stronghold; therefore it was called the city of David. 8 He built the city all around, from the Millo even to the surrounding area; and Joab repaired the rest of the city. 9 David became greater and greater, for the Lord of hosts was with him.” (1 Chr. 11:4-9; 2 Sam. 5:6-10). The tribe of Judah was originally given the opportunity to seize Jerusalem. But their faith failed them, and they could not drive out the Jebusites: “Now as for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the sons of Judah could not drive them out; so the Jebusites live with the sons of Judah at Jerusalem until this day.” (Josh. 15:63). Following Joshua’s death, God again called upon Judah to drive out the Canaanites who were still in control of Jerusalem. Yet, rather than responding with faith, they turned to the tribe of Simeon for help and failed (Jdgs. 1:1-4). The tribe of Benjamin was then given the right to Jerusalem. But they also could not drive out the Jebusites: “But the sons of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem; so the Jebusites have lived with the sons of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day.” (Jdgs. 1:21). Jerusalem proved to be a thorn in the Jews’ flesh until the arrival of King David. It also foreshadowed the sins of the flesh that God warned would make the holy city a stumbling stone for peace to this day: “It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.” (Zech. 12:3). God, however, used the Jews’ lack of faith for His glory. Because no tribe had a claim upon Jerusalem, David was able to make it Israel’s capital and unify Israel without any tribe claiming to have any special favoritism.
The King of Kings will also reign from Jerusalem. Like David, Jesus will liberate Jerusalem and reign from it as His holy capital. “A Song; a Psalm of the sons of Korah. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, in the city of our God, His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion in the far north, the city of the great King.” (Ps. 48:1-2). “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.” (Ps. 2:6). “Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.” (Rev. 14:1).
When you walk in faith, God will defeat your enemies. David became great because “greater and greater, for the Lord God of hosts was with him.” (1 Chr. 11:9). The “Lord of hosts” was one of God’s many names: “Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah.” (Ps. 24:10). In a pre-incarnate appearance to Joshua, Jesus revealed Himself to be the “Lord of hosts”. “He said, ‘No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, ‘What has my lord to say to his servant?’” (Josh. 5:14). When the Jews walked in faith and obedience, the Lord of Hosts promised them victory (Lev. 26:7-8; Ex. 23:22; Nu 10:9, 35; Isa. 54:17; Gen. 22:17). “7 The Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways.” (Dt. 28:7). For those who are obedient and take refuge in God in the face of the enemy, He promises to be a shield against the enemy’s fiery darts: “He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” (Prov. 30:5(b); 2 Sam. 22:31). For example, God used Gideon’s army of 300 soldiers to kill 120,000 enemy Midianites (Jdgs. 7:16-22; 8:10). God also helped Jonathon kill 20 enemy soldiers (1 Sam. 14:14). Likewise, it was God’s blessing that allowed David to kill Goliath (1 Sam. 17:50-58) and the Philistines (1 Sam. 18:5-6, 13-16, 27-30). If you will walk in faith-led obedience, Jesus, the Lord of Hosts, will also defeat your enemies.
God humbles the proud. The Jebusites believed that they were invincible because of the Jews’ long history of defeats before them. Thus, they boasted that “the blind and lame will turn you away” (2 Sam. 5:6). Many believe that David surprised them by invading through an unguarded “water tunnel” (2 Sam. 5:8). The proud Jebusites quickly fell after David’s surprise attack. God sets Himself against those who exalt themselves in their own abilities or their pride: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (Prov. 16:18). “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, but humility goes before honor.” (Prov. 18:12). ‘“Behold, I am against you, O valley dweller, O rocky plain,’ declares the LORD, ‘You men who say, ‘Who will come down against us? Or who will enter into our habitations?’”’ (Jer. 21:15). “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12; Lk. 14:11; 18:14). “A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.” (Prov. 29:23). “‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”’ (Jam. 4:6(b)). Do you walk with humility to allow God to exalt you?
Tear down Satan’s strongholds. David tore down the enemy’s stronghold in the heart of God’s Promised Land. God also wants you to tear down the enemies’ strongholds in your life: “A wise man scales the city of the mighty and brings down the stronghold in which they trust.” (Prov. 21:22). Does Satan have a stronghold in your life?
David inspired his mighty men of faith on the battlefield through his own example. David could not have reigned as a righteous king without the help of others. Thus, the Bible gives tribute to the “mighty men” who faithfully served him: “10 Now these are the heads of the mighty men whom David had, who gave him strong support in his kingdom, together with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the Lord concerning Israel. 11 These constitute the list of the mighty men whom David had: Jashobeam, the son of a Hachmonite, the chief of the thirty; he lifted up his spear against three hundred whom he killed at one time. “12 After him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, who was one of the three mighty men. 13 He was with David at Pasdammim when the Philistines were gathered together there to battle, and there was a plot of ground full of barley; and the people fled before the Philistines. 14 They took their stand in the midst of the plot and defended it, and struck down the Philistines; and the Lord saved them by a great victory.” (1 Chr. 11:10-13). A similar listing of “mighty men” is recorded in 2 Sam. 23:8-12. God used their faith to bring to fulfill His promises (2 Sam. 23:10, 12). Each leader was inspired and encouraged through David’s faith as a leader.
David’s mighty men of faith4
Jashobeam: In 2 Samuel, the Bible states that “Josheb-basshebeth” had “eight hundred slain by him at one time;” (2 Sam. 23:8). In Chronicles, a mighty man named “Jashobeam” killed 300 (1 Chron. 11:11). It is possible that these are different men (Pulpit Commentary on 2 Sam. 23:8). Others believe that this is a minor copying error between manuscripts. If so, this minor discrepancy does not in any way undermine Scripture. Whether this man killed 300 or 800 in battle, this was a mighty man of faith. God once used a judge named Shamgar to defeat 600 Philistines with only a sharp farming tool (Jdgs. 3:31). He also gave Samson the power to kill 1,000 Philistines with a donkey’s jawbone (Jdgs. 15:15). He used the female judge Deborah with no military training to help the Jews to fight a Canaanite king named Jabin and his commander named Sisera (Jdgs. 4:6-7). He also previously used Samuel with no military training to defeat the Philistines (1 Sam. 7:10-14). These men and women of faith show that, with God, the ordinary can do the extraordinary.
Eleazar: Eleazar remained faithful to David in his battles with the Philistines after other Jewish soldiers withdrew. Eleazar was so tenacious that he “arose and struck the Philistines until his hand was weary and clung to the sword” (2 Sam. 23:9-10). This battle occurred at a place called Pasdammim (1 Chron. 11:12-13). God granted this victory because Eleazar remained faithful when others fled: “He arose and struck the Philistines until his hand was weary and clung to the sword, and the LORD brought about a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to strip the slain.” (2 Sam. 23:10). He trusted God in battle the same way that David did as their leader and role model. God also wants you to trust Him when you are under attack.
A leader’s faith and trust sets the example for those who follow him or her. David’s mighty men served with valor and distinction in combat because they had David as their role model. As one commentator observes: “When Goliath mocked the people of Israel and their God, we do not see Saul stepping forward to silence him, nor do we find any of his followers willing to do so either. When Saul shrunk back from challenges, so did his men (see 1 Samuel 17:11, 24). Saul’s men seem more likely to desert than to stand tall (see 1 Samuel 13:5-7). David was a man of courage. When a lion or a bear threatened his father’s flock, he refused to allow any losses. When Goliath blasphemed the name of God, David did battle with him and killed him. David constantly proved himself to be a man of courage. Is it any wonder he attracted like-minded men? The man who stood up to Goliath was surrounded with courageous men who would gladly take on Goliath’s descendants (see 2 Samuel 21:15-22). Courage inspires courage, and David was a man of courage. No wonder we find so many heroes among those closest to him. The same is true today. Too often the people of God are intimidated by faint-hearted leaders, who are not willing to trust God and are frightened by any hint of opposition or adversity. What the church needs today, as always, is a company of “mighty men and women of valor,” through whom God will do great things, and through whom God will inspire others as well.” (Robert L. (Bob) Deffinbaugh 21. Profiles in Courage (2 Samuel 23)).5
God granted the mighty men victories because their faith allowed them to trust God. These men each had the same secret to success as David, each had faith in God to fight when others around them fled. In response to their faith and trust in Him, “the Lord brought about a great victory.” (2 Sam. 23:10, 12). Moses explained “The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Dt. 31:8). If your faith is lacking, God calls upon you to build it up through reading the Word: “[F]aith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Ro. 10:17). The next time you fear, recite His promises: “Do not fear for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand . . . Do not fear, I will help you.” (Is. 41:10, 13). “For I know the plans I have for you . . . plans for welfare and not calamity to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer. 29:11). “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” (2 Tim. 1:7). Faith is like a muscle. It can atrophy if you don’t read the Word. Are you reading the Word and praying to build up your faith? Do you trust God in faith to fight your battles?
Be encouraged and strengthened by the Spirit. God also knows when your faith is weak. When you let His Spirit lead you, He will encourage and strengthen you: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” (Eph. 6:10). “On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.” (Ps. 138:3). “He said, ‘O man of high esteem, do not be afraid. Peace be with you; take courage and be courageous!’ Now as soon as he spoke to me, I received strength and said, ‘May my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”’ (Dan. 10:19). “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Ro. 8:14). If you are feeling weak or depressed, are you praying in faith for Him to strengthen and encourage you?
Trust God to fight your battles. David trusted God to lead these Spirit-led men because he knew God was with Israel when it walked in Spirit-led obedience. For example, God previously defeated Pharaoh’s mighty armies at the sea (Ex. 15:3-4). God once used a judge named Shamgar to defeat 600 Philistines with only a sharp farming tool (Jdgs. 3:31). He used the female judge Deborah with no military training to help the Jews to fight the Canaanite king named Jabin and his military commander named Sisera (Jdgs. 4:6-7). He also gave Samson the power to kill a 1,000 Philistines with a donkey’s jawbone (Jdgs. 15:15). He also previously used Samuel with no military training to defeat the Philistines (1 Sam. 7:10-14). Indeed, God’s hand was present in each of the Jews’ many victories. Moses explained “The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Dt. 31:8). God was able to defend the Jews more efficiently than David or any general could. The Jews only needed to show up in faith. Do you trust God to fight your battles?
When you walk with God, your enemy will also flee from you. When you walk in faith and obedience, God promises to instill fear into your enemy and cause them to flee from you: “One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the LORD your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you.” (Josh. 23:10). “The LORD shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways.” (Dt. 28:7). ‘“But you will chase your enemies and they will fall before you by the sword; five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you by the sword.’” (Lev. 26:7-8). When you take refuge in God, He also promises to be a shield to the evil attacks of the enemy: “Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” (Prov. 30:5; 2 Sam. 22:31). With His help, Jonathon killed 20 Philistines (1 Sam. 14:12). His power also allowed David to kill Goliath (1 Sam. 17:50-58). He does not want you to fear any enemy (Ro. 8:15). Are you walking in faith and obedience so that He can act on your behalf to cause your enemies to flee?
David sacrificed to God the fruits of the labors of his mighty men. At a different point in time when David lived as a fugitive from Saul, David’s men again showed faith and valor by fighting the Philistines and seizing water from the well of Bethlehem as a sign of loyalty to God’s anointed future king: “15 Now three of the thirty chief men went down to the rock to David, into the cave of Adullam, while the army of the Philistines was camping in the valley of Rephaim. 16 David was then in the stronghold, while the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem. 17 David had a craving and said, ‘Oh that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!’ 18 So the three broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water from the well of Bethlehem which was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David; nevertheless David would not drink it, but poured it out to the Lord; 19 and he said, ‘Be it far from me before my God that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of these men who went at the risk of their lives? For at the risk of their lives they brought it.’ Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did.” (1 Chr. 11:15-19; 2 Sam. 23:13-17). When David fled as a fugitive from Saul and from the Philistines in Gath, some of the future heroes of the faith came to him while he hid at the cave of Adullam (1 Sam. 22:1). This was during David’s time living in the wilderness. This conflict likely took place when David used this cave as a launching point for his raids against the Philistines while they occupied his hometown of Bethlehem. Even while they lived as fugitives, David and his men fulfilled Saul’s role by fighting against the Philistines. David did not direct these men to engage in a daring raid simply for a drink of water. But, in response to his nostalgia and at a time when they were thirsty (1 Chr. 11:17-18), these three men took it upon themselves to engage in this raid as an act to demonstrate their devotion and love to David. From the cave of Adullam to Bethlehem and back again the three loyal soldiers marched approximately 24 miles through enemy-controlled territory. David recognized that their devotion was really to God. He also recognized that he was completely unworthy to receive this honor. Thus, he made the water a “drink offering” and a tribute of gratitude and devotion to God.
In battle, David sacrificed what he received to God and not for himself. After defeating his enemies in battle, David always showed himself to be a man after God’s heart by dedicating the things he received as either tribute or plunder back to God. “King David also dedicated these to the Lord, with the silver and gold that he had dedicated from all the nations which he had subdued.” (2 Sam. 8:11). King Solomon later used these gifts to build the Temple and the holy furnishings inside of it: “Thus all the work that King Solomon performed in the house of the LORD was finished. And Solomon brought in the things dedicated by his father David, the silver and the gold and the utensils, and he put them in the treasuries of the house of the LORD.” (1 Kgs. 7:51; 1 Chon. 18:8(b)). Thus, David’s devotion was not a one-time act. As one commentator observes, David in this account “poured out the water as a drink-offering to the Lord.” (Matthew Henry on 2 Sam. 23). In response to God’s mercy and grace, Jacob made a similar drink offering to God. “Jacob set up a pillar in the place where He had spoken with him, a pillar of stone, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it.” (Gen. 35:14). Thus, David’s connection to Jacob (1 Chr. 11:18) is again emphasized here. Their drink offerings both symbolized their gratitude to God (Nu. 28:31; Lev. 23:13). Both men sinned repeatedly. Neither deserved to give birth to the line leading to Jesus. But God forgave them both. Both responded by giving thanks for God’s mercy and grace.
Let your life be a sacrificial drink offering of gratitude. Jesus is the vine of life that you drink (Jo. 6:53). Your life should be in communion with Christ. What you do should also always honor Him. Your drink offering should further be filled with joy for others to see. This is what Paul meant when he said: “But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.” (Philip. 2:17). Is your joy a light for others to see? (Matt. 5:14).
Encourage one another in spiritual warfare. David encouraged his soldiers to act with faith and to know that their acts of valor were for God and not him. As a believer, you are commanded to encourage others each day. “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb. 3:13). “But I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.” (Heb. 13:22). “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1 Cor. 16:13). “Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD.” (Ps. 31:24). Are you encouraging others?
David’s commander served for the greater good without seeking honor or recognition. The Bible also celebrated the faith and courage of David’s commander Abishai. He served for the greater body without demanding self-recognition: “20 As for Abshai the brother of Joab, he was chief of the thirty, and he swung his spear against three hundred and killed them; and he had a name as well as the thirty. 21 Of the three in the second rank he was the most honored and became their commander; however, he did not attain to the first three.” (1 Chr. 11:20-21; 2 Sam. 23:18-19). Abishai was the brother of David’s general Joab. Both Joab and Abishai were the sons of David’s sister Zeruiah (1 Chr. 2:16). Abishai showed faith and courage to venture into King Saul’s tent with David when God had put Saul and his men into a deep sleep (1 Sam. 26:6-12). Along with Joab, he also had the faith and courage to help lead the Jews into battle against the Ammonites and cause the enemy to flee (2 Sam. 10:10, 14). Here, he is celebrated as a hero of the faith for killing 300 enemy soldiers (1 Chr. 11:20; 2 Sam. 23:18). In the civil war against Absalom, he, Joab, and Ittai each commanded a third of David’s soldiers (2 Sam. 18:2). He also initially led David’s troops during Sheba’s rebellion before Joab reasserted control over David’s army (2 Sam. 20:6-9). He also commanded David’s troops at the Valley of Salt where they killed 18,000 Edomites (1 Chr. 18:12). He had also faithfully served David on a number of other occasions in battle (e.g., 2 Sam. 3:30).
Serve the kingdom without seeking the same honors as the other men. God alone was responsible for the victories of David’s mighty men (2 Sam. 23:10, 12). Thus, the mighty men had no reason to boast. Their stories are told separately because the two served with the same faith and commitment without “attain[ing] to the [stature of the] three” (2 Sam. 23:19, 23). Thus, they served in humility without the need for honors or recognition.
Like Abishai, you also have no reason to boast about your accomplishments. After coming to know Jesus, Paul realized that his accomplishments were worthless: “More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,” (Phil. 3:8). Every good thing in your life is the result of God’s blessings (Jam. 1:17). Are you prideful about any of your accomplishments?
David’s guard also served with courage. David’s guard Benaiah served God with courage in the face of his enemies and dangers. Like Abishai, Benaiah also did not receive any honor for his actions: “22 Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, mighty in deeds, struck down the two sons of Ariel of Moab. He also went down and killed a lion inside a pit on a snowy day. 23 He killed an Egyptian, a man of great stature five cubits tall. Now in the Egyptian’s hand was a spear like a weaver’s beam, but he went down to him with a club and snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. 24 These things Benaiah the son of Jehoiada did, and had a name as well as the three mighty men. 25 Behold, he was honored among the thirty, but he did not attain to the three; and David appointed him over his guard.” (1 Chr. 11:22-25; 2 Sam. 23:20-23). Benaiah was a hero of the faith because he killed two mighty Moabites, a lion in a cistern, and a mighty Egyptian (2 Sam. 23:20-23). He showed the faith of Daniel in facing off against a lion (Dan. 6:17-24). He also showed the skill of David after he took away the Egyptian’s spear and then killed the man with his weapon the way that David used Goliath’s sword to finish him off (1 Sam. 17:50-51). The Egyptian was five cubits high, which suggests that he was seven and one half feet tall. Benaiah was the son of a priest (1 Chr. 27:5). He was also a skilled commander. David appointed him as his chief officer over his gentile soldiers, the men who stayed with David when others rebelled against his rule (e.g., 2 Samuel 20:23). “Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David’s sons were chief ministers.” (2 Sam. 8:18). Benaiah used his faith and his skills for God’s glory. He also humbly served with great courage for the greater good.
Have courage when you serve God. Benaiah did not fear their enemies or even a lion when he served God. God also wants you to have the courage to serve Him, even when there are risks to you: “Say to the anxious heart, ‘take courage, fear not.” (Is. 34:4). “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Dt. 31:6). “Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.” (Josh. 1:6). “Joshua then said to them, ‘ . . . Be strong and courageous, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies with whom you fight.”’ (Josh. 10:25). If you fear anything other than God your faith is lacking. Although David was the smallest man in his family, he feared no evil or any enemy because he had faith that God was fighting for him. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?. . . Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arises against me, in spite of this I shall be confident.” (Ps. 27:1-3). “I fear no evil, for you are with me.” (Ps. 23:4). “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.” (Lk. 12:4). When God wanted to reduce the size of Gideon’s army, the first thing He did was to dismiss every soldier who felt afraid (Jdgs. 7:3). God did not want any person fighting in His army who feared the enemy. Such a person had no trust in Him: “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you . . . .He shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, you are approaching the battle against your enemies today. Do not be fainthearted. Do not be afraid, or panic, or tremble before them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’” (Dt. 20:1, 3-4). Is there any person, thing or enemy that you fear? If so, Satan may use that fear to ensnare you and cause your faith in Jesus to falter. Believers will also do foolish things when they let their fears control them. This includes fleeing from an enemy: “The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.” (Prov. 29:25; 3:5; 1 Pet. 5:7). The Lord is the only thing that you are to fear (Prov. 1:7; Ps. 112:7). If you feel fear, have you taken your eyes off Jesus?
Encourage one another in spiritual warfare. Benaiah’s courage in the face of his enemies inspired others. As a believer, you are commanded to use God’s Word to encourage others each day. “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb. 3:13). “But I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.” (Heb. 13:22). “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1 Cor. 16:13). “Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD.” (Ps. 31:24). Are you using God’s Word to encourage those who are in need?
David succeeded by delegating responsibility to Spirit-led men of faith. David’s reign succeeded because he inspired mighty men of faith to serve: “26 Now the mighty men of the armies were Asahel the brother of Joab, Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem, 27 Shammoth the Harorite, Helez the Pelonite, 28 Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite, Abiezer the Anathothite, 29 Sibbecai the Hushathite, Ilai the Ahohite, 30 Maharai the Netophathite, Heled the son of Baanah the Netophathite, 31 Ithai the son of Ribai of Gibeah of the sons of Benjamin, Benaiah the Pirathonite, 32 Hurai of the brooks of Gaash, Abiel the Arbathite, 33 Azmaveth the Baharumite, Eliahba the Shaalbonite, 34 the sons of Hashem the Gizonite, Jonathan the son of Shagee the Hararite, 35 Ahiam the son of Sacar the Hararite, Eliphal the son of Ur, 36 Hepher the Mecherathite, Ahijah the Pelonite, 37 Hezro the Carmelite, Naarai the son of Ezbai, 38 Joel the brother of Nathan, Mibhar the son of Hagri, 39 Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai the Berothite, the armor bearer of Joab the son of Zeruiah, 40 Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite, 41 Uriah the Hittite, Zabad the son of Ahlai, 42 Adina the son of Shiza the Reubenite, a chief of the Reubenites, and thirty with him, 43 Hanan the son of Maacah and Joshaphat the Mithnite, 44 Uzzia the Ashterathite, Shama and Jeiel the sons of Hotham the Aroerite, 45 Jediael the son of Shimri and Joha his brother, the Tizite, 46 Eliel the Mahavite and Jeribai and Joshaviah, the sons of Elnaam, and Ithmah the Moabite, 47 Eliel and Obed and Jaasiel the Mezobaite.” (1 Chr. 11:26-47; 2 Sam. 23:24-39). These were all “mighty men” (1 Chr. 11:26), a term used previously in Chronicles to describe mighty warriors who stepped forward to serve God (1 Chr. 7:5; 7:7). The beginning of David’s list of administrators identifies 30 mighty men: “Asahel the brother of Joab was among the thirty; Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem,” (2 Sam. 23:24). In 2 Samuel, the end of the list concluded with a total of 37 mighty men (2 Sam. 23:39). A total of 48 names are recorded here. Some of the people on this list died and were replaced. For example, Abner murdered Joab’s brother Asahel, who appears on this list (2 Sam. 2:18-23). David also murdered Uriah the Hittite, who also appears on this list (2 Sam. 11:14-17). Thus, the members of the 30 elite men changed over time. Some have acts recorded elsewhere in the Bible. Some are never mentioned anywhere else. All, however, received God’s special recognition. God wants you to follow in their example to serve Him.
God transformed these men when they stepped forward to serve. Isaiah responded to God’s calling to serve Him: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!”’ (Is. 6:8). Jesus made clear that He needed many more to step forward the same way Isaiah and David’s men did: “And He was saying to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”’ (Lk. 10:2). Like these mighty men, will you step forward to serve God?
Serve Jesus in humility for others the same way He served mankind. Although Jesus was God, He “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” (Phil. 2:7). As an example to all believers, He came to serve and not to be served (Matt. 20:28; Mk. 10:45). He did not even have a home or a bed to sleep in (Matt. 8:20; 2 Cor. 8:9). He wants you to follow in His example to step forward and serve Him with the right motives: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Mi. 6:8). If you have been placed in a difficult environment, are you serving others and God? Or, are you simply complaining about your situation?
God is faithful to remember those who faithfully served Him in humility. Many of these men did not start off as warriors. Many were the rejects of society who followed David when no one else would take them: “Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them.” (1 Sam. 22:2(a)). Some are also mentioned only on this list and nowhere else in the Bible. Three did not even come from a Jewish lineage. For example, “Zelek” was an “Ammonite,” one of Israel’s many gentile enemies (1 Chr. 11:39; 2 Sam. 23:37). As another example, “Uriah” was a “Hittite,” another enemy nation (2 Sam. 23:39). They all faithfully served God’s appointed king in humility and without a need for recognition. God was faithful to record and remember the service of each of these individuals. “For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.” (Heb. 6:10). If you step forward to serve God, He will be faithful to honor your service.