David's Mighty Men
J. M. Davies, Canada
TO follow David in his rejection, especially in the earlier days, was tantamount to counting all things but loss, for the fellowship of his sufferings. It needed both the vision and the courage of faith. In the Book of Chronicles those who went to David are grouped into three.
I. THOSE WHO WENT TO HIM TO THE CAVE OF ADULLAM. (1 Chron. 11. 15-47.)
In David's roll, of honour those that went to the Cave are given, a place of prominence. To their credit it is recorded that the first to resort to David were his brethren, and all his father's house. Fear of being held as hostages or of being killed by Saul may have helped them to take the step, but without faith in the word of the Lord through Samuel (so signally sealed in the conflict with Goliath at Elah, and after), it is hardly likely they would have followed him.
The list is remarkable for several reasons.
(1) The names that are, absent—Jonathan and Joab. The names of these two very different characters might have been there, but for their failure.
(2) Some names that are recorded. Joab’s brothers are there, even though Asahel died young. Joab’s armourbearer. The son of Ahithophel. A Benjamite. An Ammonite. A Moabite, and Uriah the Hittite.
These may well illustrate some of the surprises that will be ours when the final honours list will be published.
The first three are singled out for special mention for deeds of bravery. Individually they snatched victory from what seemed like an inevitable disaster and defeat. They held on to points of strategic importance: a parcel of land “full of barley,” or a piece of ground “full of lentils.” The food front was as important then as in all wars. The conflict was critical, and the people fled from the Philistines, but these men ; stood. Eleazar fought till his hand was weary and his hand clave to the sword. The Philistine's with their images were out to rob Israel of their substance and sustenance, and so are their counterpart to-day out to rob the Christian of the Word of God. Too many, alas, are prepared to flee rather than fight. Men of the character of Eleazar and Shammah are sorely needed to-day. Through them “The Lord wrought a great victory,” and a “great deliverance.” Those that had fled returned only to spoil.
These three men were not only brave and successful warriors. They were prepared to, sacrifice life, and limb just to fulfil the longing of David to get a drink of water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate. At that time it was a garrison town of the Philistines, but these men brake, through the host, drew water and brought it to David. Such was their personal devotion to David. It was far more than devotion to a duty. And it is personal devotion to the Lord that should compel saints to be at the feast of remembrance each Lord’s Day. There are places where saints can only do so by breaking through the hosts of Philistinian ritualists. But to the majority in these islands it is easy, yet few value their privileges aright. As David was greatly moved, and valued highly their devotion, pouring out the water as a drink, offering to the Lord, so do the feasts of remembrance gratify the heart of our Lord.
The second group of three have also special acts of bravery to their credit. Even the weather is remembered, and the peculiarly difficult, circumstances under which the conflict with the lion took place is noted. Deeds of moral and spiritual bravery that find no place in the annals of earth are all recorded, and in that day will bring their reward.
II. THOSE THAT WENT TO HIM IN ZIKLAG (1 Chron. 12. 1-22
They were also among the mighty men, and what an interesting list it is, and what variedly interesting things are said of them.
Among them were Saul’s brethren!—a Gibeonite! Gadites, Men of Judah and Manasseh. In this David prefigured our Lord, who draws to Him all, irrespective of the differences of sex, nationality, social rank or educational advantages. All without distinction (not all without exception) are drawn to Him.
Of some we read that they could use both right hand and the left. What valuable men are such as can be of service in the gospel or among the saints. Others were able both for defence and attack. They were armed with shield and spear. Withal they were fleet of foot. Of Amasa, we read that the Spirit clothed him, enabling him, to confess so clearly and definitely on whose side they were. Little wonder we read that “then David received them.” When the Lord touched the tongue of the dumb he spake plainly. Such men are generally marked for leadership. There is something in their very confession that is contagious.
Of the latter days at Ziklag we read that “day by day there came to David to help him, until it was a great host.” The utter failure of Saul was becoming manifest, and men saw in David their only hope of deliverance from the Philistines. Would that such a movement were evident now; For this, eyes will need to be opened to see the ruin of Christendom, and the utter helplessness of Protestantism to deliver, from the inroads of Romish ritualism.
III. THOSE THAT WENT TO HIM IN HEBRON (1 Chron. 42. 23-40.)
While David reigned over Judah there was a long war between the house of Saul and his. During that time, David’s wisdom shines out very clearly. Eventually all opposition ceased, and with one heart David is anointed king. How it must have rejoiced the hearts of those who had shared his sufferings to see him king and the nation united at his feet. May God speed the day when the Lord Jesus shall reign “from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.”