David’s Mighty Men
As a youth David was anointed by the Prophet Samuel to replace King Saul. Saul had refused to exterminate all the Amalekites and their livestock. Samuel told Saul that because he had rejected the word of the LORD, God had rejected him from being king. “The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbor of thine, who is better than thou” (1 Sam. 15:28).
Samuel then went to Bethlehem and anointed David. Soon after that, David slew the giant Goliath. When Saul heard the women singing “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands,” he realized that David was the one destined to replace him. “And Saul eyed David from that day and forward” (1 Sam. 18:9).
Eventually David got tired of Saul throwing spears at him, and he fled. He went to Ahimelech the priest and got some food and Goliath’s sword, then fled to Gath.
In Gath, some of the Philistines thought they recognized David as the man who had slain Goliath. To save his life, David pretended to be insane. He let his drool and slobber run down his beard and scrabbled on the doors.
“Lo, ye see the man is mad,” the Philistine king said. “Wherefore then have ye brought him to me? Have I need of mad men, that ye have brought this fellow to play the mad man in my presence?” (1 Sam. 21:14f).
David took this opportunity to flee. “David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him. And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him, and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men” (1 Sam. 22:1f).
During his time of rejection and exile, David became a magnet for people who were in distress, in debt, and discontented. Centuries later, Yeshua the Son of David became a magnet who likewise drew the misfits of society to Himself. Both David and Yeshua were rejected by many of their Jewish brethren for a season, but both were the Lord’s anointed and destined to sit on the throne of Israel.
During the time between David’s exile and his enthronement as the rightful king, he attracted an army of around four hundred men. Of those four hundred men, there were thirty-seven who were called giborim, “mighty men.”
David’s giborim were heroic men who did exceptional exploits. Abishai the brother of Joab “lifted up his spear against three hundred, and slew them.” Benaiah the son of Jehoiada “slew two lionlike men of Moab” and “went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow.” He also “slew an Egyptian” who was five cubits tall. He plucked the Egyptian’s own spear out of his hand and used it to slay him.
At this present time in history, as Yeshua the Son of David awaits His enthronement as King Messiah, we are called to be soldiers in His army: “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Yeshua the Messiah. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Tim. 2:3f).
We are fighting a spiritual battle, not a physical one. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood,” therefore “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal” (Eph. 6:12; 2 Cor. 10:4). Nonetheless, the warfare is real, and we cannot afford to live as civilians. We are part of the army of Mashiach, the Anointed One, and we each have the opportunity to do exploits for Him and to become one of Yeshua’s giborim.
We can be inspired and encouraged to become mighty men and mighty women by looking at the exploits of David’s mighty men. Abishai slew three hundred men with his spear. We do not know if this was done in a single day or over a period of time. Nonetheless, if a man faces three hundred men in battle, even one at a time, the odds are that one of those three hundred are going to win the fight. But Abishai was not scared by the numbers and the odds.
We might sometimes feel outnumbered by all the sinners and demons spirits around us. Indeed, we usually are outnumbered, except perhaps at a worship service. But so what? We need not be scared when we are outnumbered, “for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few” (1 Sam. 14:6). Remember Elisha at Dothan, and the unseen army of fiery horses and chariots. “Fear not,” Elisha said, “for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (2 Kings 6:16). So I guess we are not outnumbered, at least not when you count the armies in the spiritual realm!
Benaiah slew two lionlike men and he slew a lion on a snowy day. We can likewise confront lionlike sinners and demons, even “in time of snow,” i.e., in times when the atmosphere seems spiritually cold.
Benaiah also slew a big Egyptian who had a spear like a weaver’s beam. When we face enemies that are bigger and more powerful than us, we face them in the Lord’s power, not in our human power.
I heard a preacher say that while he was in prayer one day, he felt like Satan was oppressing him. So he started rebuking the Devil. But in his mind, he saw the Devil standing there in front of him, about a hundred times bigger than him, laughing at him and mocking his demands to leave him alone. He felt deflated and defeated. But then he saw Jesus come up and tap Satan on the shoulder. “Hey!” Jesus said. “You heard what my little brother said! Now get out of here!”
Benaiah slew the big Egyptian by taking away his spear and using it against him. Sometimes the Lord will show us how to take away the Enemy’s tools and weapons and use them against him. We see this happening in Acts. Whenever Satan stirred up persecution against the Apostles, it led to opportunities for them to testify of Yeshua and call people to repentance. When they were scattered because of persecution, “they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). Persecution even opened doors for them to testify to rulers and kings. The Enemy used persecution to try to stop the kingdom from advancing, but the Apostles used that persecution as an opportunity to advance the kingdom. In effect, the Apostles were following the example of David’s mighty man Benaiah. They took the enemy’s weapon away and used it against him.
Abishai and Benaiah did very notable exploits, but the exploit that brings tears to my eyes is an exploit that was done by the three greatest of David’s mighty men, Adino, Eleazar, and Shammah. The reason their exploit brings tears to my eyes is because it was something they did as lovers of David more than as soldiers of David.
David and his men were homeless, living in a cave in the desert, hiding from crazy King Saul, who was hunting for them. David was exiled from his hometown of Bethlehem, which was occupied by the Philistine army at that time. David started thinking about his hometown and he felt homesick. As he thought about the simple pleasures of life he had known as a boy in Bethlehem, he began to think about the cool, sweet, refreshing waters that he used to freely drink from the well in Bethlehem, and he realized how thirsty he was.
“Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!” David sighed.
When Adino, Eleazar, and Shammah heard David express the longing of his heart, they conferred with one another and in effect said, “Let’s do it! Let’s run through the camp of the enemy army, fight our way to the well in Bethlehem, fill a container with water, and bring it to David! Let’s risk our lives to bring our captain the one thing that will satisfy the longing of his heart!”
And they did it!
When I read this story, I wonder: What was it about David that inspired such devotion, such loyalty, such an eagerness to please their captain? It was certainly not David’s wealth or power or comfort, for David had none of those things at this time. I can only conclude that it was the anointing of the Lord upon David. That anointing drew men like a magnet. It was not David’s charismatic personal charm as a mere man, but the magnetic anointing of the Lord that rested upon him.
Yeshua, our Anointed One, is called “the Captain of our salvation” (Heb. 2:10). Paul says that a soldier’s duty is to “please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Tim. 2:4). How does our devotion, our loyalty, and our eagerness to please our Captain compare to the devotion, the loyalty, and the eagerness of Adino, Eleazar, and Shammah? I fear that their devotion, loyalty, and eagerness puts ours to shame.
Suppose you were with Yeshua in a cave far from His hometown of Nazareth, and He said, “Oh that one would give Me drink of the water of the well in Nazareth!” What would you do? Would you say “Let’s do it! Let’s risk our lives to satisfy the longing of our Captain’s heart!”?
“But Daniel, we’re not in a cave with Yeshua, so that’s an irrelevant question.”
True, we are not in a cave with Yeshua, but it is not an irrelevant question, because there are things we can do to help satisfy the longing of His heart. Some of those things involve risk. What risks are you willing to take to please the Lord?
The present longing of Yeshua’s heart is to see His Bride made ready, to see His Bride sanctified and cleansed with the washing of water by the word, that He might present His Bride to Himself as a glorious Bride, without spot, wrinkle, or blemish. That is the longing of His heart. What are you willing to do to help make the Bride ready? What are you willing to do to help bring sinners to salvation and saints to sanctification?
David was so deeply touched by the selfless act of devotion by his three mighty men that he refused to drink the water. He poured it out on the ground as an offering to the LORD. In effect David was saying, “Such devotion belongs to God, not to man.”
The magnetic anointing on David drew men and inspired them to do exploits to please their captain. It is the magnetic anointing on Yeshua the Son of David that draws us and inspires us to do exploits to please our Captain.
Having a desire to please Him is one thing. The courage to actually do exploits is another matter. Where do we find the courage we need to do exploits that involve risks?
The simple answer is “in Messiah.” The practical details are outlined and explained in Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians.
The Chinese Christian Nee To-sheng, better known as Watchman Nee, wrote a book, first published in 1957, called Sit, Walk, Stand. In this little book, Nee shows from the book of Ephesians that the key to a victorious life can be summed up in those three words, Sit, Walk, Stand, in that order.
At the conclusion of Ephesians, Paul states that our final duty as pilgrims on this earth is to stand: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil... that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore....” (Eph. 6:10-14).
Our final duty as soldiers of Yeshua is to stand against the Devil, like David’s mighty men stood against their enemies. But Watchman Nee points out that we cannot stand until after we have first learned to sit and then to walk. This Divine order can be seen in the composition of Ephesians. The first section of Ephesians speaks of sitting:
“The God of our Lord Yeshua Messiah... raised Him from the dead, and made Him to sit at His own right hand in the heavenly places... And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Messiah Yeshua” (Eph. 1:17-20 & 2:6).
The victorious life “does not begin with walking, it begins with sitting,” Nee says. It begins “when by faith we see ourselves seated together with Him in the heavens.”
Because Adam was created on the sixth day, Adam’s first full day was the Sabbath. “God’s seventh day was, in fact, Adam’s first,” Nee says. “Adam began his life with the sabbath; for God works before He rests, while man must first enter into God’s rest, and then alone can he work.”
This principle holds true for every descendant of Adam. We must first come to the One who said, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matt. 11:28ff).
We find this rest unto our souls when we cease our useless labor of trying to “become spiritual,” and simply accept by faith the Bible’s declaration that we have been seated together with Yeshua in the heavenly places. Even though our bodies are still confined to earth, our spirits dwell in the heavenly places.
“If ye then be risen with Messiah, seek those things which are above, where Messiah sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Messiah in God” (Col. 3:1-3).
The first three chapters of Ephesians focus on sitting and on things relevant to our seated position in Messiah. In chapter four, Paul shifts gears and begins talking about walking: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called” (Eph. 4:1).
Paul uses the word walk several times in Ephesians: “...that we should walk in them [good works] ...walk worthy... walk not as other Gentiles walk... walk in love... walk as children of light... walk circumspectly” (2:10, 4:1, 4:17, 5:1, 5:8, 5:15).
As Paul gives practical instructions about walking out our faith, he focuses primarily on human relationships: relationships between different members of the Body, between believers and unbelievers, between husbands and wives, between children and parents, between servants and masters. We can be victorious in the walking out of our faith, but only if we remain focused on the fact that we are seated in the heavenly places in Messiah. “We sit for ever with Christ that we may walk continuously before men,” Nee writes. The key to successful walking is in the sitting.
When we think about walking out our faith, we should remember that a toddler does not learn to walk overnight. At first he experiments. He holds onto things to maintain his balance. As he gains some stability, he can then let go of his props and slowly learn how to move his legs and feet. But he still has to concentrate and focus on how he is moving his legs and feet. But eventually he is able to walk naturally and spontaneously, without even thinking about the mechanics of walking. Walking becomes so easy that he can even walk and chew gum at the same time. So it is for us when we learn to walk with the Lord. We start out with props, take some baby steps, focus on the mechanics, and eventually, walking with the Lord becomes our normal way of life.
After we have learned to sit and to walk, then we can learn to stand. Nee writes: “We must know how to sit with Christ in heavenly places and we must know how to walk worthy of Him down here, but we must also know how to stand before the foe.”
To stand against the Devil means to hold your ground. Refuse to give back the ground that the Lord has conquered for you. If the Lord has given you victory over some sinful habits, hold onto that victory. Put on the whole armour of God, take your stand, and refuse to be moved by the Enemy’s threats and pressure.
We see this sort of fierce determination in some of David’s mighty men. As a matter of fact, when we look at the exploits of the three mightiest of David’s mighty men, we actually see a “Sit, Walk, Stand” template. After reading Nee’s book, I noticed that in the exploits of the first mighty man, we see references to sitting; in the exploits of the second mighty man, we see references to walking; in the exploits of the third mighty man, we see references to standing:
“These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains; the same was Adino the Eznite: he lift up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time. And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David, when they defied the Philistines that were there gathered to battle, and the men of Israel were gone away. He arose, and smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword: and the LORD wrought a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to spoil. And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. 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” (2 Sam. 23:8-12).
Adino, the first of David’s mighty men, “sat in the seat.” We have to first see that we are seated in the heavenly places in Messiah.
Eleazar, the second of David’s might men, “arose and smote the Philistines” after the other men of Israel had run away. This would have involved walking toward the enemy while others were retreating. Just as Eleazar’s hand clave to his sword, so must our hand cleave to the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. The Hebrew word for “cleave” is the same word used to speak of a husband cleaving to his wife and becoming one with her. We have to hold on tightly to the Word until it becomes one with us, and functions as an extension of us.
Shammah, the third of David’s mighty men, “stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it.” He stood while the other Israelites were fleeing from the Philistines. He defended that field of lentiles because it did not belong to the enemy. It belonged to God’s people, and those lentiles were intended for their nourishment.
So it is when we defend the canon of Holy Scriptures. The Sacred Text does not belong to the Enemy, it belongs to God’s people, and the words are intended for their spiritual nourishment. Today, multitudes of so-called Christians are fleeing from the pressures of the politically-correct crowd and the pushy threats of sex perverts. Many cowardly Christians are surrendering to the demands of these Philistines, and relinquishing those parts of the Bible that the modern-day Philistines find offensive. Yeshua’s mighty men today must stand firm and refuse to yield. The Bible is the Word of God, and we do not need to apologize to perverts for what God has said.
Set your affection on things above, where you are seated with Messiah. Be like Adino, who “sat in the seat.” Let your spirit abide in the heavens. While others retreat in fear of persecution, arise and smite with the sword of the Spirit, like Eleazar. Learn to walk in the Spirit so you can stand against the Enemy. Let the sword of the Spirit cleave to your hand and become one with you. Take your stand on the truth of the Scriptures like Shammah took his stand on that field of lentiles. After Shammah took his stand, “the LORD wrought a great victory.” As we take our stand on the Holy Scriptures, may the Lord likewise give us great victories.