God’s Mighty Men

“And David became greater and greater, for the LORD of hosts was with him.” (1 Chronicles 11:9)

The vast majority of the first nine chapters of First Chronicles is a genealogy, and most people simply breeze over the names and relations listed there. And after a description of Saul’s and Jonathan’s deaths and David’s ascension to the throne, another list of names is given. Whereas the first lists were genealogies, this list is very different.

In the U.S. Memorial Day is a holiday which is normally celebrated with picnics and barbecues, a long way from the its intended purpose. Memorial Day was originally set aside as a day to remember or memorialize the men and women who have fought to defend our country in the armed services. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. currently has 58,272 names of those who died or remain missing in the Vietnam War.

So what’s my point? My point is that lists of names mean something. And not only to their family and loved ones. This becomes incredibly clear in 1 Chronicles 11:10-12:40 where the names of King David’s mighty men are given along with some of their accomplishments. These were great men of war and courage. Some fought against unthinkable odds and everyone fought with great courage and faithfulness to the king.

Here are a few thoughts I had about these men:

  • Like David, the mighty men were only successful because the Lord had given them success–they knew it. The beginning of a great fall begins with pride!
  • Their faithfulness to King David was a faithfulness to the Lord who had placed David upon the throne. Mighty men recognize God’s leaders and do all they can to support them.
  • The mighty men had different ranks based upon their abilities, performance, and successes. There is “the three,” “the thirty” and the those who were very great, but “did not attain to the three” or “the thirty.” Everyone isn’t equal. Performance, skill, and effort matter. In a day when everyone gets a participation ribbon, this shows that mighty men strive and push themselves to be their best in the service of the Lord.
  • The mighty men loved their king and were willing to go above and beyond to serve and please him, even risking their lives to give him water from his hometown well (1Chron 11:15-19). This devotion was matched by David’s unwillingness to indulge himself with this sort of sacrifice. There was mutual love, respect, and loyalty between the king and his mighty men.
  • The mighty men had a great kinship and loving respect for one another built around their devotion to the Lord and his king. They were united in purpose and vision, each doing his own part for the common cause.

The virtues of honor, devotion, courage, selfless service and sacrifice are not exclusive to the military. These are the virtues that members of the Church should uphold as well. Our King is Jesus and our goal is clearly given in the Great Commission. May the Lord be pleased to raise up mighty men (and women!) from within our own churches to his glory and honor!

The Disaster of Failing to Be Trustworthy

“Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble
is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips.”—Proverbs 25:19 (ESV)

I love how picturesque the proverbs are in describing truth in simple terms. The above proverb became very real to me recently when my wife twisted her knee when she slipped. As we walked back to the car from a trip to the hospital, her knee buckled and she was in great pain. For several weeks after that accident, she had to wear a brace to prevent her knee from giving out.

And I had the experience recently of an old filling falling out of a tooth leaving an pending in my tooth that caused a crack in my tooth while I was eating leading to a piece of tooth breaking off. Until my dentist appointment I have been eating on the other side of my mouth to avoid more damage and pain.

Buckling knees and cracked teeth are sudden, painful, and unexpected. But once the weakness is revealed it is hard to place trust in those areas again until after they are proven strong again and able to do the job they were meant to do. Even then, we sometimes are reluctant to place too much on them for fear that the pain they caused might return.

When we fail in our responsibilities at the moment when we were most depended upon, the damage can be great. The proverbs says this is “treacherous” failure. The Hebrew word betrays a break in trust, where dependability, even vows of loyalty were broken to the destruction of the one who placed trust in another. The failure is pictured as a massive breach of trust.

And just like a buckled knee can send a person to the ground and a broken tooth can cause excruciating pain, so too the failures of a trusted person bring great harm to the one who was depending upon the faithfulness of another.

What do you do when you are the one who is failed and have lost trust in another? Wisdom says we should move slowly in placing trust back in the failed one. We must make sure they are trustworthy before placing the responsibility back into their hands lest we be betrayed again. This will take confrontation, confession, conversations, and re-commitment on both parties. Over time, if there is a willingness, humility, forgiveness, and love, restoration can be achieved.

How about if you are the one who was treacherous and cast aside trust? Go to those you have failed without excusing yourself and your actions. Ask for forgiveness and offer to make right what you messed up. Humbly recognize that this will take time—maybe a long time—to reestablish trust. Be open to further questions, further need to confess your failings when they are uncovered in the process, and continuing discussions about where things started to go wrong. Be aware of any self-justification on your part. Listen.

Like a faulty knee and a broken tooth, the Master Physician can bring healing to even the worst and most painful failures. But we must allow him to work in us and through us so that we can be sure that the catastrophe is not repeated, bringing greater damage and more pain next time.

Follow the Leader? (weekend repost)

Paul had been ministering for years, but there was a need for Timothy to be faithful to practice what had been modeled for him so that he would be able to set an example for those who would follow him in the Church. The need is great for leaders in the church–for mentors and those who are growing as they follow biblical leaders. Read the rest of the post here: Follow the Leader?