At harvest time, three of the thirty chief men went down to David at the cave of Adullam, while a company of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim.
I. THEIR QUALITIES.
1. What they are. They are the ordinary characteristics of a Christian existing in a high degree of strength and fervour.
(1) Strong faith. The eye that sees the invisible; the hand that grasps the promises; strong confidence in God and Christ (see Hebrews 11.).
(2) Ardent love. Warm attachment and devoted loyalty to their King; love to his kingdom and all who belong to it; love to men in general; love disinterested, unselfish. A selfish man cannot be a hero.
(3) A strong sense of duty, overpowering the desire for ease, safety, pleasure, or gain.
(4) Intense prayerfulness. Earnest prayer is "power with God and with men" (Genesis 32:28).
(5) Clear and impressive knowledge. "Knowledge is power." "A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength" (Proverbs 24:5). Knowledge adds strength to the character of its possessor, and is a powerful weapon in the service of our King. It is by "the truth" that Christ's battles are fought and victories won. "The gospel is the power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16). Christ's "mighty men" are "mighty in the Scriptures" (Acts 18:24).
(6) Dauntless courage.
(7) Unwavering constancy and perseverance.
2. Whence they spring. David was brave himself, and inspired his men with bravery. They became "mighty men" through the influence of a mighty leader. Consciously or unconsciously, they imbibed his spirit and imitated him. In like manner, our "Leader and Commander of the people" (Isaiah Iv. 4) infuses his own Spirit into his faithful followers. They become mighty through close union and association with him. They are "strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might' (Ephesians 6:10); "strengthened with might by God's Spirit in the inner man" (Ephesians 3:16).
II. THEM WORKS. Their might is exercised:
1. In resisting and overcoming temptation. In conquering the enemies of Christ as they assail and would destroy themselves. A man may be a hero in the service of his country and a miserable coward and slave morally and spiritually, yielding without resistance to the impulses of lust and passion, covetousness and ambition, led "captive by the devil at his will" (2 Timothy 2:26).
2. In patient endurance of suffering. Martyrs, confessors, ordinary sufferers. Some of the noblest of Christ's "mighty ones" are found in sick chambers, enduring pain and perhaps privation for long months or years without a murmur.
3. In assailing and conquering religious errors or practical evils. Especially when the many favour them, and not only opposition, but obloquy, has to be encountered.
4. In promoting the salvation and welfare of men. David's "mighty men" displayed their strength and courage chiefly in destroying men's lives; Christ's in saving and blessing; though occasionally they too are called to take up material weapons in the service of their King. In this service the noblest heroic qualities are often called into exercise, as in the ease of missionaries bearing their message among savages or into perilous climates; ministers of religion at home patiently and lovingly labouring on in obscurity and poverty; visitors of those suffering from infectious diseases; teachers in ragged schools, etc.
III. THEIR VARIETIES. David's "mighty men" were from various tribes of Israel, some even Gentiles, and had each his own peculiarities of character and achievement. But all were alike loyal to their king and brave in serving him. Thus it is also with Christ's mighty ones. They are from every country and nation where he is known, from every section of his Church, from every class of society; and they all bear some marks of their origin. But they all are one in their devoted love to their King, and their readiness to labour and suffer for him even unto death. They differ also in respect of the special elements and manifestations of their power. Some owe their pre-eminence in part to physical peculiarities; others are great in spite of theirs. Some have the might of intellect; others, of heart. Some, the power of inflexible determination; others, of gentleness and tenderness. Some conquer by intense activity; others, by passive endurance or quiet influence. Some are powerful through their ability to attract and lead numbers; others, acting alone. The special sphere of some is the home; of others, the Church; of others, the exchange, the factory, the workshop, or the public meeting. Some are mighty in argument; others, in appeal; some, in instructing; others, in consoling, etc.
IV. THEIR REWARD.
1. Promotion. David promoted those of his men who distinguished themselves by their bravery to posts of honour (ver. 23). Similarly, our Lord teaches us that those who are faithful to him shall be advanced to higher positions of trust and power (Luke 19:17, 19; Revelation 2:26-28; Revelation 3:12, 21). The display and exercise of noble qualities increases their vigour, and thus prepares for and ensures higher and wider service.
2. Honourable record. As here, "These be the names," etc., Christ's heroes also have their names, characters, and deeds recorded.
(1) Some on earth. In the Divine book; in ordinary biographies; in the memories of men.
(2) All in heaven (comp. Philippians 4:3). Not all who are mentioned in the earthly lists are in the heavenly; for some obtain a reputation here to which they are not justly entitled. Not all in the heavenly list are in the earthly; for good men are not omniscient, nor can they always discern superior worth, though it be before their eyes. The chief desire of us all should be to have a place in the heavenly records - to be "accepted of him" (2 Corinthians 5:9), whoever may reject or overlook us. In conclusion:
1. We should not be content just to exist as Christians, but should aim to be "mighty." This is possible to all, through union with the "strong Son of God," maintained and increased by vigorous exercises of faith, meditation, and prayer; and through faithful use of such power as they possess.
2. Whatever our might or achievements, we should ascribe all, and be sincerely concerned that others should ascribe all, to God. (Vers. 10, 12.) - G.W.
And three of the thirty chiefs went down.
I. A SUDDEN REVERSAL OF FORTUNE. It was but as yesterday that David was the centre of the greatest assembly of warriors that his land had seen for many generations. With national acclaim he had been carried to the throne of a united people. He realised that he was fondly enshrined in the hearts of his countrymen; but to-day he is driven from Hebron, where for more than seven years he had dwelt in undisturbed security, back to that desolate mountain fastness, in which years before tie had taken refuge from the hatred of Saul. It was a startling reversal of fortune, a sudden overcasting of a radiant noon, a bolt out of a clear sky. Such sudden reversals come to us all — to wean us from confidence in men and things; to stay us from building our nest on any earth-grown tree; to force us to root ourselves in God alone. Child of mortality, such lessons will inevitably be set before thee to learn. In the hour of most radiant triumphs, thou must remember Him who has accounted thee fit to be his steward; thou must understand that thy place and power are thine only as His gift, and as a trusteeship for His glory. This contrast between the anointing of Hebron and the conflict of Adullam presents a striking analogy to the experiences of our Lord, who, after His anointing at the banks of the Jordan, was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness of Judaea to be forty days tempted of the devil. It is the law of the spiritual life. The bright light of popularity is too strong and searching for the perfect development of the Divine life. Loneliness, solitude, temptation, conflict — these are the flames that burn the Divine colours into our characters; such the processes through which the blessings of our anointing are made available for the poor, the broken-hearted, the prisoners, the captives, and the blind.
II. GLEAMS OF LIGHT. The misty gloom of these dark hours was lit by some notable incidents. The mighty men excelled themselves in single combats with the Philistine champions. What marvels may be wrought by the inspiration of a single life! We cannot but revert in thought to that hour when, hard by that Very spot, an unknown youth stepped forth from the affrighted hosts of Israel to face the dreaded Goliath. Thus the lives of great men light up and inspire other lives. They mould their contemporaries. The inspiration of a Wesley's career raises a great army of preachers. The enthusiasm of a Carey, a Livingstone, a Paten stirs multitudes of hearts with missionary zeal. Those who had been the disciples of. Jesus became his apostles and martyrs. His own life of self-sacrifice for men has become the beacon-fire that has summoned myriads from the lowland valley of selfishness to the surrender, the self-denial, the anguish of the Cross, if only they might be permitted to follow in his steps.
III. A TOUCHING INCIDENT. — Adullam was not far from Bethlehem. One sultry afternoon he was a semi-prisoner in the hold. Over yonder, almost within sight, a garrison of Philistines held Bethlehem. Suddenly an irresistible longing swept across him to taste the water of the well of Bethlehem, which was by the gate. Almost involuntarily he gave expression to the wish. How often we sigh: for the waters of the well of Bethlehem! We go back on our past, and dwelt longingly on never-to-be-forgotten memories. Oh to see again that face; to feel the touch of that gentle hand; to hear that voice! Oh to be again as in those guileless happy years, when the forbidden fruit had never been tasted! Oh for that fresh vision of life, that devotion to the Saviour's service, that new glad outburst of love! Oh that one would give us a drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem', which is beside the gate! They are vain regrets; there are no, mighties strong enough to break through, the serried ranks of the years, and fetch back the past. But the quest of the soul may yet be satisfied by what awaits it in Him who said, "He that drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but he that drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst: but it shall be in him a spring of water, rising up to everlasting life." Not in Bethlehem's well, but in Him who was born there, shall the soul's thirst be quenched for ever.
IV. THE OVERTHROW OF THE PHILISTINES. — Prosperity had not altered the attitude of David's soul, in its persistent waiting on God. As he was when first he came to Hebron, so he was still; and in this hour of perplexity; he inquired of the Lord, saying, "Shall I go up against the Philistines? Wilt Thou deliver them into mine hand?" In reply, he received the Divine assurance of certain victory; and when the battle commenced, it seemed to him as if the Lord Himself were sweeping them before Him like a winter flood, which, rushing down the mountain-side, carries all before it in its impetuous rush. Again the Philistines came up to assert their olden supremacy, and again David waited on the Lord for direction. It was well that he did so, because the plan of campaign was not as before. Those that rely on God's co-operation must be careful to be in constant touch with Him. The aid which was given yesterday in one form, will be given to-morrow in another. In the first battle the position of the Philistines was carried by assault; in the second it was turned by ambush. Sometimes we have to march, sometimes to halt; now we are called to action, again to suffering; in this battle to rush forward like a torrent; in the next to glide stealthily to ambush and wait. We must admit nothing stereotyped in our methods. What did very well in the house of Dorcas will not suit in the stately palace of Cornelius. Let there be living faith in God. Then shall we know what God can do as a mighty co-operating force in our lives, making a breach in our foes, and marching his swift-stepping legions to our succour.
(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
1. The incident affords a remarkable instance of David's power to inspire devotion. He could have been no sordid, common-place, self-seeking usurper for whom they did this; no slave of greedy ambition, swayed only by the lust of power. He was manly, trustful, and chivalrous, as a king should be, and the enthusiasm and fidelity of his soldiers were but the answering reflection of his own nobility and grace.
2. The incident exemplifies the power and inventiveness of love. Love will laugh at impossibilities. It is quick to devise means of fulfilling its desires, and though it be tender it is also courageous. It is gentle, but full of power, and can set its face like a flint against all opposition. Love to Christ will make us pure, strong, brave and victorious. We shall scorn to serve Him with that which costs us nothing, arid for His sake we shall count all things as loss. When David had in his hand the water, which only love strong as death could have secured, he refused to drink it, and poured it on the ground unto the Lord. How fickle and capricious! we have heard men say. Not so! Far other feelings prompted the refusal. There is a higher law than self-gratification. David was the very soul of chivalry, and felt that he had no right to the water which had been brought as by priestly hands and in a cup that had on it the marks of sacrifice. To have drunk it himself would have been sacrilege. There was but One Being worthy of it — He who had inspired the heroism and devotion which secured it. David saw in the act of the captains who had jeopardised their lives for him a love, a courage, and a self-surrender of which no mortal was the fitting object.
4. The action of David's friends is a witness on both its sides to the unselfishness and grandeur of our nature. It shows that we have other than material instincts to satisfy, that we live not by bread alone. Physical gratification, bodily ease and comfort, prosperity in all its forms leave untouched vast spaces of our worldly thought and aspiration and need; and if we possess only what they can yield, the noblest elements of our nature will be feeble and impoverished, aye, and will become the means of our acutest suffering and most dreaded retribution. When the depths of our being are stirred, we think of God and our relation to Him. We live by admiration, love, and hope. There is something dearer than material pleasure, personal safety, and even life itself to the man who has been entranced by the vision of the Divine. He reveres the majesty of truth and duty, fidelity, honour, God. It is not necessary that we should be at ease, with an abundance of pleasure and of wealth. It is not even necessary that we should continue to live, but, it is necessary that we should be true, pure, upright, godly; and to fulfil this great law of our being there is absolutely no sacrifice which we should not be prepared to make.
(J. Thain Davidson, D. D.)
Christian Weekly.We love upright, energetic men. Pull them this way, and then that way, and the other, and they only bend, but never break. Knock them down, and in a trice they are on their feet. Bury them in the mud, and in an hour they will be out and bright. They are not ever yawning sway existence, or walking about the world as if they had come into it with only half their soul; you cannot keep them down, you cannot destroy them. But for these the world would soon degenerate. They are the salt of the earth. Who but they start any noble project? They build our cities and rear our manufactories; they whiten the ocean with their sails, and they blacken the heavens with the smoke of their steam vessels and furnace fires; they draw treasures from the mine; they plough the earth. Blessings on them! Look to them, young men, and take courage; imitate their example; catch the spirit of their energy and enterprise, and you will deserve, and no doubt command, success.
PeopleAbialbon, Abiel, Abiezer, Abishai, Adino, Agee, Ahasbai, Ahiam, Ahithophel, Anathoth, Ariel, Asahel, Azmaveth, Baanah, Bani, Benaiah, Benjamin, Benjaminites, David, Dodai, Dodo, Eleazar, Elhanan, Eliahba, Eliam, Elika, Eliphelet, Gareb, Heldai, Heleb, Helez, Hezrai, Hezro, Hiddai, Igal, Ikkesh, Ira, Ithai, Ittai, Jacob, Jashen, Jehoiada, Jesse, Joab, Jonathan, Maharai, Mebunnai, Naharai, Nahari, Nathan, Paarai, Ribai, Shammah, Sharar, Sibbecai, Uriah, Zalmon, Zelek, Zeruiah
PlacesAdullam, Anathoth, Bahurim, Beeroth, Bethlehem, Carmel, Gaash, Gath, Gibeah, Gilo, Harod, Jerusalem, Kabzeel, Lehi, Maacah, Moab, Netophah, Pirathon, Tekoa, Valley of Rephaim, Zobah
TopicsAdullam, Band, Camping, Cave, Chief, Chiefs, Company, David, Encamped, Encamping, Grain-cutting, Harvest, Heads, Philistines, Pitched, Position, Rephaim, Reph'aim, Start, Strong, Thirty, Troop, Valley
Outline1. David, in his last words, professes his faith in God's promises
6. The different state of the wicked
8. A catalogue of David's mighty men
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Samuel 23:13
5087 David, reign of
LibraryThe Dying King's Last vision and Psalm
'Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, 2. The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in my tongue. 3. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. 4. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
A Libation to Jehovah
The Royal Jubilee
David's Dying Song
Covenanting Sanctioned by the Divine Example.
The Christian's Book
Thoughts Upon the Appearance of Christ the Sun of Righteousness, or the Beatifick vision.
The Truth of God
Covenanting According to the Purposes of God.
The Work of the Holy Spirit in Prophets and Apostles.
The Blessings of Noah Upon Shem and Japheth. (Gen. Ix. 18-27. )
The Deity of the Holy Spirit.
How is Christ, as the Life, to be Applied by a Soul that Misseth God's Favour and Countenance.
Thoughts Upon the Mystery of the Trinity.
The Covenant of Grace
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