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David's Mighty Men
2 Samuel 23:1-23
We have today the last words of David for our consideration. Somehow or other, final words always carry special significance. In the case of David, his words may be called the summing up of a most eventful and God-honored life. The life of David was not without its faults, and there was one great shadow that hung over his career; and yet, as a whole, he was indeed the friend of God. God found in him a willing channel through whom He might work. There are several things in David's last words we wish to bring before you.
1. A man raised up. Our minds go back to the boyhood days of David. He was known as the son of Jesse, the shepherd lad. If we had chanced to have seen him in those days, we might not have picked him out as the destined King of Israel, but God chose him.
Our first statement is "David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, * * said." It was a long stretch from the life of a shepherd, to the king of a mighty nation. Truly David was raised up.
It is, however, just as long a stretch to those of us who have been raised up out of sin. Did God not lift our feet out of the miry clay, and place them on the Rock, Christ Jesus? Did not God come to us when we were dead in trespasses and in sins? Did He not raise us up and cause us to sit down with Him in the Heavenly places?
There is, however, another sense in which we are destined to be raised up. This time to be raised up on high. The Lord will descend from Heaven with a shout and He will raise the dead bodies of all saints. Then shall we the living, ascend up, with the raised dead, into the clouds to meet our Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Thank God that David recognized the fact that he was raised up on high. May we also rejoice in the fact of our exaltation in Christ.
2. The man anointed of the God of Jacob. God did not leave David unpanoplied for his task. When God causes us to undertake, He makes possible the undertaking. The son of Jesse was especially anointed of God to be King of Israel. He had a definite filling of the Holy Spirit. Is this not also true with us? God has not only saved us, and called us into royal service, but He has anointed us with the Holy Ghost. He told us: "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you." Thank God we do have an anointing. It is not in our own name, nor in our own strength that we go forth to service.
3. The man who was anointed as the sweet Psalmist of Israel. The Psalms of David are an inspiration to Saints. David had the gift of music. He played well upon the harp. He not only had the gift of music, but he wrote hymns full of praise, and of Divine worship. He himself said, as he wrote in 2 Samuel 23:2 of our lesson, "The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His Word was in my tongue."
Here was a Psalmist whose hymns were written by Divine appointment. Yea, the very words were given to David by the Spirit. This was not merely David's claim, but frequently the New Testament emphasizes the fact that the Holy Spirit spake by David. This fact is not only in the Gospels, but it is also in the Acts, and in the Book of Hebrews. We may not claim what David claimed. We do know, however, that the Spirit of God does rest upon us, and He gives us what we shall say in the hour of need and testimony.
I. ADINO, THE EZNITE (2 Samuel 23:8 )
We now begin the study of the lesson proper. The theme of our message is "God's Heroes." These heroes are men who were connected with David. The first one mentioned is in 2 Samuel 23:8 . He was a man whom David appointed as chief among his captains. The record of his greatest deed is thus stated: "He lift up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time."
1. God needs fearless men to serve Him. Here was a man who was not afraid. There are few who would be willing to go out alone against eight hundred. Yet, here is a man who accomplished that feat. They were crowding around him, and were pressing hard upon him; but he stood firm. He did not retreat. He fought with his spear in his hand until he prevailed. One by one he cut them down until all were overcome.
There is a little passage in Joshua where it says, "Be strong and of a good courage." Many men of the world are strong and courageous. We read of Naaman the Syrian, "He was also a mighty man of valour." This is a day when we need young men, and young women who are valiant in the fray. The powers of darkness are looming heavy. Shall we succumb, or shall we go forth and contend for the faith? God needs aggressive men. God needs men who will go forth to battle.
Our courage should not be a courage of lips. It is not recounting our mighty deeds, or telling of our own valor, that brings things to pass. It is actually entering into the conflict.
The Holy Spirit said through Paul, "Endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." Soldiers are panoplied for war. They are not men who know naught but dress parade. To the young men and women to whom we write and speak, we plead: Go forth to the battle! Undertake for God!
II. ELEAZAR, THE SON OF DODO (2 Samuel 23:9-10 )
Here is one who was numbered as one of the three mighty men of David.
1. The Philistines had defied the armies of Israel. This is exactly what we have round us today. There are plenty of men who are denying, decrying, denouncing and defying the sons of God. Every possible insult is being thrown at faithful believers. Satan would, if he could, overwhelm them with his threats.
Our minds go back to the days when Nehemiah was building the wall. We can see the enemy mocking him, telling him that a fox running upon the walls would make them fall. Young people, remember that those who resist you in the Word and work of the Lord have many tactics. They will try to frighten you with ridicule. When that fails, they will endeavor to place every possible obstacle in your way.
2. The Philistines had joined together against Eleazar. These are exactly Satan's present tactics. In the 2d Psalm we read that the kings of the earth set themselves together against the Lord, and His anointed. There is no ground of comradeship and fellowship between saints and the world. Christ said, "The world hateth you."
There is an effort on the part of Satan to combine his forces. He seeks to amalgamate and federate against every one who would go forth to battle for the Lord.
3. Eleazar was left alone. We read in the last clause of 2 Samuel 23:9 , "The men of Israel were gone away." Here the Philistines gathered together and as they joined arms for battle, Israel fled. It was at this strategic moment that Eleazar, alone, rose up and smote the Philistines.
Our minds go at once to Jonathan and his armor bearer. Jonathan said to the young man who bore his armor, "Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the Lord will work for us: for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few." Thus it was that the two went up and the first slaughter that they made was as it were twenty men in as much ground as a yoke of oxen might plow. Then God came to the help of Jonathan. He sent a great trembling in the hosts of the Philistines. He set every Philistine's sword against his fellows.
This was also the case of Eleazar, as he smote the Philistines. He smote until his hand was weary, and it clave unto his sword. That day, however, God wrought a great victory, and remember God still works.
III. SHAMMAH THE HARARITE (2 Samuel 23:11-12 )
This was another one of David's great men, and one of God's heroes. We read these words, "And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines. But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the Lord wrought a great victory."
1. Once more the enemy was gathered together. Satan may be overwhelmed, but he does not give up. He may be cast down, but he does not despair. When Eleazar slaughtered the Philistines, did they cease from fighting? Not they! They were gathered together once more into a troop. Let us take to heart this suggestion. Sometimes even our enemies can instruct us.
Has not God said, "Be not weary in well doing"? Eleazar was not weary. He fought until he could not let go his sword. Let us remember how the Children of Israel under Gideon were faint, and yet pursuing.
2. The Philistines came down to seek the Israelites. They permitted the children of God to sow their seed, and to grow their lentiles; and then, at the time of harvest, they came down to carry away the fruitage. They stole the labor of God's people.
This is always Satan's tactics. While he would overthrow a child of God and would rob him, he would at the same time, enrich himself.
3. Shammah defended the field. The Children of Israel fled. Had Shammah also fled, he would never have been reckoned as one of God's great heroes; however, the word "retreat," was not in Shammah's dictionary. He stood in the midst of the ground, and defended the lentiles. He slew the Philistines.
Is it not written, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you"? If there is any running to be done, let the devil do the running.
4. We now call attention to the last statement in 2 Samuel 23:12 , "And the Lord wrought a great victory." Run. back to 2 Samuel 23:10 and you read the same words, "And the Lord wrought a great victory." Eleazar and Shammah, neither the one nor the other, had any room for self-praise. They did refuse to flee. They did, in each case, meet an impossible situation. However, both of them would have been overthrown and laid low had not God come to their rescue.
Remember that these mighty men were not mighty, in so far as human reckonings were concerned. Their might lay in the fact that they believed God, and that the Lord answered their faith, and wrought a great victory through them.
IV. THREE MIGHTY MEN (2 Samuel 23:15-18 )
The Spirit of God now groups three men.
1. The longing of David's heart. David was away from home. He was being oppressed by the enemy, and with a heart that was human he longed, and said, "Oh, that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!"
David's wish, in this case, proved his will so far as the three mighty men were concerned.
We wonder if we, as God's people, are listening to hear His voice? We wonder if just the wish of our Lord's heart, would prove all the command that we would need to become active and eager to please Him? David longed for the water from the well at Bethlehem. The three men caught his sigh, heard his wish, and hurried on their way.
2. Wherein obstacles cannot hinder endeavor. Between David's camp and the drink of water from the well of Bethlehem, there was gathered a host of Philistines. That host intervened and stood in the way. Do you remember how David himself wrote in the Spirit, "By Thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall"? Shall we allow any wall, be it ever so high, be it ever so thick, to hinder us in the accomplishing of the will of God?
Recently we stood on Lookout Mountain, over against Chattanooga. We walked to the crest of the mountain, looked down the slope, seemingly impossible of ascent. Yet on the monuments around us, was a description of how the soldiers climbed that mountain, and scaled its crest. Soldiers of Christ must not falter no matter how difficult the task.
3. The story of victory. 2 Samuel 23:16 tells us this: "The three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David." As David received it at their hands, he did not drink of it, but poured it out unto the Lord. To David it seemed to be the harbinger of victory. He knew that what the three mighty men had done, his armies by faith and courage could also do.
V. BENAIAH THE SON OF JEHOIADA (2 Samuel 23:20-21 )
Here is one of David's lesser heroes, and yet he is spoken of as a man who had done many acts. Noteworthy among them were two.
1. He went down into a pit and slew a lion in the time of snow. The lion had, no doubt, been causing great havoc among the people of Israel. They had heard its roaring. It had slaughtered more than one of their inhabitants. It seemed to be crying out against the children of God.
Is not Satan alive, and does he not cry out as the accuser of the saints? Indeed! God tells us that he goes about seeking whom he may devour. This lion had a den. His den was a pit.
Who would think of leaping into a pit inhabited by the strongest of beasts?
But, mark you, there is something else here. It was a time of snow. Perhaps this "time of snow" was a time of hunger to the lion. The whole picture is the picture that would terrorize any weakling. What did Benaiah do? He went down into the pit. He went down alone. He went down in the time of snow. He closed in on the lion and slew him. Beloved, has not God given us an armor with which to fight? Let us go forth as went Benaiah.
2. He slew an Egyptian. This Egyptian was a goodly man so far as fighting went. He knew how to wield a spear and he went to meet Benaiah with his spear in his hand. The same Benaiah who went down into the midst of the pit, went down to meet this Egyptian. 2 Samuel 23:21 tells us that Benaiah had but a staff in his hand. A staff against a spear; and yet, with his staff Benaiah plucked the spear out of the hand of the Egyptian. Then he picked it up from the place where it fell and slew the Egyptian with his own weapon. These things did Benaiah, and what shall we do?
VI. DAVID THE HERO OF THEM ALL (2 Samuel 23:1-39 )
David was captain over all of these mighty men. Should men of might and prowess, of courage and valor, be ruled by a weakling? Not so. In the days when David was yet a youth, he learned how to deliver his sheep from the paw of the lion and of the bear. This courage and this faith in conflict never deserted David.
1. There was a giant crying out against the armies of Israel. Goliath, the Philistine, was of mighty power. Single-handed he stood forth to defy the armies of Israel. He sought battle with anyone who was willing to meet him. The Children of Israel, including king Saul, were all afraid. No one was willing to try his hand. They fled from his threats and were sore afraid.
When the shepherd lad, David, came to bring gifts, sent from his father to his brothers, he sought audience with Saul and he said, "The Lord * * will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine."
2. The secret of David's victory. As David approached the Philistine, he went in his simple shepherd garb, with his staff in his hand. He chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, put them in his shepherd's pack, and took his sling in his hand.
As David approached the Philistine, he said, "Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the Name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; * * that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel." Thus it was that David prevailed because the Lord prevailed.
Beloved youth, are we willing to be a David? Shall we retreat, and retrench, and recoil? Let us, in our weakness, trust His strength; in our nothingness, let us lean upon His almightiness; in our impotence, let us go forth crowned with His omnipotence.
VII. DAVID'S PARTING ADVICE (2 Samuel 23:6-7 )
How fitting in this chapter where we have recounted the conquests of David's mighty men, God's heroes, that the parting words of David should be considered.
1. A word of warning. The first thing David said, was, "The sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands." David warns us, first of all, that the sons of Belial are thorns. Then he tells us that they cannot be taken with hands. The warning is against anybody attempting to overcome the wicked one in their own strength.
Satan is, in truth, a genius. Satan is so mighty that even the archangel, Michael, durst not bring against him a railing accusation. Satan's sons are also strong. The foes against which we fight are powerful. Not one of us, alone, nor all of us combined, dare go out in our own strength to meet our enemy.
2. A word of advice. In 2 Samuel 23:7 David said, "The man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear." It is not difficult to grasp the significance of these words. When God sent Moses to Pharaoh, Moses quailed. He knew that back of Pharaoh were all the armies of Egypt; and what was Moses? When Moses pleaded his weakness and inability, God told him, "Certainly I will be with thee." Moses, with God, could well go; but Moses, without God, could never go.
When God called Jeremiah and sent him on his difficult task, he said unto Jeremiah, "I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land." "They shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee."
One who is sent by God is panoplied of God. When the Government sends out an Ambassador, that Ambassador is backed with all the power that lies behind the Government.
3. A Word of assurance. In the last clause of 2 Samuel 23:7 , David gives this statement, "They shall be utterly burned with fire." Thank God that we are in a winning, not in a losing fight. The antichfist and the false prophet and Satan may combine against the Lord, and against His hosts; but the antichrist and false prophet shall be destroyed with the breath of His lips and with the brightness of His coming. Satan shall be chained and cast into the pit. The armies which form under this devilish trinity, shall be utterly routed and overwhelmed.
As Satan and his hordes gather together against the Lord, God says: "Yet have I set My King, upon My holy hill of Zion."
Moffat looking into the eyes of a savage, who threatened his life, calmy said, "We are resolved to abide by our post. * * You may shed our blood or burn us out. * * Then shall they who sent us know that we are persecuted indeed." Mrs. Moffat stood by with her babe in her arms. Moffat threw open his waistcoat, and said, "Now, then, if you will, drive your spears to my heart." The Lord again heard prayer. The chief was confounded. He shook his head significantly, and said to his followers, "These men must have ten lives when they are so fearless of death. There must be something in immortality."
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on 2 Samuel 23". "Living Water". https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany