Living Courageously // A Lesson from David’s Mighty Men
As humans, we all look up to and admire men and women of courage, in other words heroes. We flock to movies that show larger than life heroes, who despite all the challenges that face them manage to emerge victorious. Personally as a young boy, I loved reading and watching stories of King Arthur and his knights of the round table. These knights, these brave warriors, gathered around this great king they believed in. They followed Arthur and alongside him accomplished great deeds. I didn’t really make the connection until recently but King Arthur and his knights mirror another group from ancient Israel, King David and his Mighty Men.
It’s easy for us to overlook David’s Mighty Men and just focus on David and the events of his life, but I think it would be a mistake for us to overlook the thirty-five elite warriors who fought alongside David. A Christian writer Cliff Graham makes fresh for me a particular story involving these mighty men that I want to share with all of you. Cliff Graham series, The Lions of War, is a five-book series that depicts the life and battles of David’s Mighty Men. This series has breathed new life into scripture that I confess I overlooked. I want to focus on one story that happened just after David is newly crowned king over all of Israel. No sooner is David crowned king than the Philistine army decided to invade Israel. In scripture this story takes place in 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles. So, David and his men go up against the Philistines and David makes a holy vow that he will not drink water until his enemies are defeated. Later as the battle heats up and David grows weary he says longingly, “Oh that someone would give me a drink of water from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate,” (1 Chronicles 17).
Moved with love for their leader three of David’s Mighty Men went behind enemy lines and broke through the ranks of the Philistines. In scripture, we don’t know who these men are but in Graham’s book they are Benaiah, Gareb, and Uriah. Whoever they really were is unimportant when compared to what their courageous actions show, and they show they were willing to risk their lives for David’s sake.
When the men bring David the water he refuses to drink it. He said to them, “Far be it from me before my God that I should do this. Shall I drink the lifeblood of these men? For at the risk of their lives they brought it,” (1 Chronicles 11:19). So, David pours the water out as an offering to God. Maybe some of you are as confused by David’s actions here as I was. Those men risked their lives to bring him that water so why does he waste it in that way? In my study Bible, the editor makes an important note and writes that while it may seem ungrateful of David not to drink the water it’s a gesture showing great value. David equates the water to the blood of his men and for David to drink the water obtained at the risk of their lives would have been to take their blood lightly. For him to pour it out before the Lord is David’s way of saying he is not worthy of it, and he was offering it to the Lord instead.
David’s Mighty Men not only followed and fought for David, but they loved their King. They serve as an example how we should love and follow our King. Jesus is heir to the throne of David and our savior. David’s men were willing to pour out their very lives for their king, but our King was willing to pour out his for us. We serve a greater king than the Mighty Men of David. They risked their lives for an imperfect man who was not worthy of their sacrifice. What are we willing to risk for the perfect man who is worthy of every sacrifice and good deed we could ever do. I want you all to think about how you can live your lives in courageous service of our King Jesus!