1 Chronicles
Introduction 1-3 David Anointed King over Israel 4-8 David Captures Jerusalem 9-10 The Heroes of David 11 Jashobeam 12-14 Eleazar 15-19 Three Heroes Fetch Water for David 20-21 Abishai 22-25 Benaiah 26-47 Other Heroes
Introduction

The events in 1 Chronicles 11-20 take place in the period from 1003-995 BC. In that time David grows to the height of his power. All that has happened before the people come to David in Hebron is passed over tacitly. The faults and suffering of David are not mentioned. History begins by presenting what constitutes the power and glory of the kingdom of David. We can connect these histories with the future establishment of the power of Christ, the Son of David, on earth.


David Anointed King over Israel

1Then all Israel gathered to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and your flesh. 2In times past, even when Saul was king, you [were] the one who led out and brought in Israel; and the LORD your God said to you, ‘You shall shepherd My people Israel, and you shall be prince over My people Israel.’” 3So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the LORD; and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the LORD through Samuel.

Here comes all Israel as well to make David king and not, as is described in 2 Samuel, first the two tribes and then all the tribes (2Sam 2:44Then the men of Judah came and there anointed David king over the house of Judah. And they told David, saying, “It was the men of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul.”; 2Sam 5:11Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and your flesh.). From now until the end of this book (1 Chronicles 11-29) it is about David. The whole people know that they are his bones and his flesh. In this we can recognize what the New Testament people of God, the church, can say to Christ in the awareness of their close union with Him. In Hebrews 2 this union unity is expressed by the Lord Jesus (Heb 2:11-1411For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one [Father]; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,12saying, “I will proclaim Your name to My brethren, In the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise.”13And again, “I will put My trust in Him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children whom God has given Me.”14Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,). Our union with Him is made possible because He “partook of blood and flesh” (Heb 2:1414Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,), but “without sin” (Heb 4:1515For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as [we are, yet] without sin.).

Thought is being given to what David did for the people before, when Saul was king over them (verse 22In times past, even when Saul was king, you [were] the one who led out and brought in Israel; and the LORD your God said to you, ‘You shall shepherd My people Israel, and you shall be prince over My people Israel.’”). We see here a picture of what the Lord Jesus did in our lives in the past. He has made sure that we have not perished under the rule of Satan and the flesh, of which Saul is a picture. When Saul reigned, the true blessing came in reality from David.

David has made the people “led out and brought in”. This reminds us of the words of the Lord Jesus whom He pronounces as the good Shepherd (Jn 10:99I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.). Therefore it is also good to see that the LORD, the God of David, wants David in the first place to be a shepherd for His people. Then and thereby he can also be king. This applies fully to the true David, the Lord Jesus (Eze 34:23-2423“Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd.24And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them; I the LORD have spoken.; 37:2424“My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them.).

First and foremost is the care of God’s people, and then comes the reign. Be shepherd first, then become king. This is also the case in the life of the Lord Jesus. He is now the good Shepherd, while He will soon openly accept His kingship. For us it coincides. We will gladly acknowledge His dominion over our lives now because He has given His life for us as the good Shepherd and also cares for us every day as the chief Shepherd. Surely there is no one we would rather submit to than to Someone Who has given Himself so for us and who takes care of us every day, is there?

There is also much to be learned from this by all those who have a certain authority over others. We can think of the man’s attitude towards his wife and the attitude of parents towards their children. It is also important for the acknowledgment of authority in the church of God. If God has given persons a place of authority, they can only exercise that authority properly if they know for themselves what it is to serve, to be the least and to care for those entrusted to them. Such persons show the image of the Lord Jesus.

Subservience to someone who cares about you, who cares for you with love is much easier, than to someone who only wants to play the boss over you and abuses his position of authority for that. In God’s sight, authority is never separated from care and love, and that has become perfectly visible in the Lord Jesus.

After the declaration of all people, the elders come to David as the representatives of all Israel (verse 33So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the LORD; and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the LORD through Samuel.). David makes with them “a covenant … before the LORD”. He will have committed himself to be a good king for his people and to reign in accordance with God’s law for the king (Deu 17:14-2014“When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,’15you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, [one] from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman.16Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never again return that way.’17He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself.18“Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests.19It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes,20that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or the left, so that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel.; cf. 1Sam 10:2525Then Samuel told the people the ordinances of the kingdom, and wrote [them] in the book and placed [it] before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, each one to his house.). In so doing, he was aware that he was taking on a task for which God would ask him to account. He will also realize that he depends on Him to perform his task.

The reaction is that the elders anoint David king over all Israel. By this he becomes a person dedicated to the LORD, through which he can act in His Name, with His authority. It is not an own act, but “according to the word of the LORD through Samuel”. Here David is anointed for the third time in his life (Elisha is anointed once, Aaron twice and David three times):
1. The first time David was anointed in his father’s house, in humiliation and among his brothers (1Sam 16:1313Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah.). We can connect this with the anointing of the Lord Jesus with the Spirit, also in the midst of His brothers, in the Jordan in humiliation (Mt 3:1616After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove [and] lighting on Him,).
2. The second time, immediately after Saul died, David is anointed by the two tribes (2Sam 2:44Then the men of Judah came and there anointed David king over the house of Judah. And they told David, saying, “It was the men of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul.”). He is not yet a king over all Israel, but only over Judah. This refers to the time when the Lord Jesus returns to earth. Then He will first come in connection with Judah, that is the remnant of the two tribes that are in the land at that moment. They will receive Him with joy as the promised Messiah.
3. The third time is described here, when he becomes king of all of Israel (verse 33So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the LORD; and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the LORD through Samuel.). This looks forward to the time when the Lord Jesus returns and openly accepts His kingship over Israel, visible to all.


David Captures Jerusalem

4Then David and all Israel went to Jerusalem (that is, Jebus); and the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, [were] there. 5The inhabitants of Jebus said to David, “You shall not enter here.” Nevertheless David captured the stronghold of Zion (that is, the city of David). 6Now David had said, “Whoever strikes down a Jebusite first shall be chief and commander.” Joab the son of Zeruiah went up first, so he became chief. 7Then David dwelt in the stronghold; therefore it was called the city of David. 8He built the city all around, from the Millo even to the surrounding area; and Joab repaired the rest of the city.

The first action mentioned here of David is that he goes from Hebron to Jebus to capture that city. The new king chooses this city as his new capital. The choice of this city is also of strategic importance, because Jerusalem is much more central in the land and is also situated on a mountain, which makes it difficult for enemies to capture the city. However, the first consideration is not the strategic importance. David’s choice of this city as a royal city is in keeping with the choice of God. It is the place He has chosen to make His Name dwell there.

David makes the capture of Jebus a matter of honor for his leaders. Joab turns out to be the man who takes up the challenge and wins and becomes the new chief and commander of David’s army. Joab is mentioned here in a positive sense and not negative as in the second book of Samuel. This is about the establishment of the kingdom of David; everything is done with an eye on him, on him all attention is focused.

After this capture David takes authority over the city. He is going to live there. Therefore the city can now be called “the city of David”. Such a change of authority takes place in the lives of every newly converted person. At the moment of his conversion he passes from the power of Satan to God and acknowledges the dominion of the Lord Jesus over his life. The Lord Jesus comes to dwell in the life of such a person and has access to it.


The Heroes of David

9David became greater and greater, for the LORD of hosts [was] with him. 10Now these are the heads of the mighty men whom David had, who gave him strong support in his kingdom, together with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the LORD concerning Israel.

David now dwells in Jerusalem and gains in stature (verse 99David became greater and greater, for the LORD of hosts [was] with him.). That the LORD of hosts is with him, is evident from the list of mighty men. David gains in stature because of the great men around him, his heroes. Above all, he gains in stature, because the LORD of hosts is with him. The men of valor are led by the LORD to David. They followed him in the time of his being rejected and have become heroes. By the LORD of hosts, to which also the army of David belongs, they are mentioned as men who helped David to acquire his kingship and the conquest of the royal city.

These men owe their stature to him (verse 1010Now these are the heads of the mighty men whom David had, who gave him strong support in his kingdom, together with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the LORD concerning Israel.). By strengthening him they strengthened themselves and their own interests. They have given “him strong support in his kingdom, together with all Israel”. His prosperity is their prosperity. Through their connection with David they share in all that is His part. So it is with us in our connection with the Lord Jesus. What we do to promote the kingdom of the Son of David will be for our profit. What makes someone great is the good he does. This greatness cannot be obtained without work and danger for one’s own life. It is about the good fight of faith in the Lord Jesus.

Hereafter follows the list of the names of David’s heroes (verses 11-4711These [constitute] the list of the mighty men whom David had: Jashobeam, the son of a Hachmonite, the chief of the thirty; he lifted up his spear against three hundred whom he killed at one time.12After him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, who [was] one of the three mighty men.13He was with David at Pasdammim when the Philistines were gathered together there to battle, and there was a plot of ground full of barley; and the people fled before the Philistines.14They took their stand in the midst of the plot and defended it, and struck down the Philistines; and the LORD saved them by a great victory.15Now three of the thirty chief men went down to the rock to David, into the cave of Adullam, while the army of the Philistines was camping in the valley of Rephaim.16David was then in the stronghold, while the garrison of the Philistines [was] then in Bethlehem.17David had a craving and said, “Oh that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!”18So the three broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water from the well of Bethlehem which [was] by the gate, and took [it] and brought [it] to David; nevertheless David would not drink it, but poured it out to the LORD;19and he said, “Be it far from me before my God that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of these men [who went] at the risk of their lives? For at the risk of their lives they brought it.” Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did.20As for Abshai the brother of Joab, he was chief of the thirty, and he swung his spear against three hundred and killed them; and he had a name as well as the thirty.21Of the three in the second [rank] he was the most honored and became their commander; however, he did not attain to the [first] three.22Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, mighty in deeds, struck down the two [sons of] Ariel of Moab. He also went down and killed a lion inside a pit on a snowy day.23He killed an Egyptian, a man of [great] stature five cubits tall. Now in the Egyptian’s hand [was] a spear like a weaver’s beam, but he went down to him with a club and snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear.24These [things] Benaiah the son of Jehoiada did, and had a name as well as the three mighty men.25Behold, he was honored among the thirty, but he did not attain to the three; and David appointed him over his guard.26Now the mighty men of the armies [were] Asahel the brother of Joab, Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem,27Shammoth the Harorite, Helez the Pelonite,28Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite, Abiezer the Anathothite,29Sibbecai the Hushathite, Ilai the Ahohite,30Maharai the Netophathite, Heled the son of Baanah the Netophathite,31Ithai the son of Ribai of Gibeah of the sons of Benjamin, Benaiah the Pirathonite,32Hurai of the brooks of Gaash, Abiel the Arbathite,33Azmaveth the Baharumite, Eliahba the Shaalbonite,34the sons of Hashem the Gizonite, Jonathan the son of Shagee the Hararite,35Ahiam the son of Sacar the Hararite, Eliphal the son of Ur,36Hepher the Mecherathite, Ahijah the Pelonite,37Hezro the Carmelite, Naarai the son of Ezbai,38Joel the brother of Nathan, Mibhar the son of Hagri,39Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai the Berothite, the armor bearer of Joab the son of Zeruiah,40Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite,41Uriah the Hittite, Zabad the son of Ahlai,42Adina the son of Shiza the Reubenite, a chief of the Reubenites, and thirty with him,43Hanan the son of Maacah and Joshaphat the Mithnite,44Uzzia the Ashterathite, Shama and Jeiel the sons of Hotham the Aroerite,45Jediael the son of Shimri and Joha his brother, the Tizite,46Eliel the Mahavite and Jeribai and Joshaviah, the sons of Elnaam, and Ithmah the Moabite,47Eliel and Obed and Jaasiel the Mezobaite.). That list is also in the second book of Samuel (2Sam 23:8-398These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-basshebeth a Tahchemonite, chief of the captains, he was [called] Adino the Eznite, because of eight hundred slain [by him] at one time;9and after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there to battle and the men of Israel had withdrawn.10He arose and struck the Philistines until his hand was weary and clung to the sword, and the LORD brought about a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to strip [the slain].11Now after him was Shammah the son of Agee a Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered into a troop where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the people fled from the Philistines.12But he took his stand in the midst of the plot, defended it and struck the Philistines; and the LORD brought about a great victory.13Then three of the thirty chief men went down and came to David in the harvest time to the cave of Adullam, while the troop of the Philistines was camping in the valley of Rephaim.14David was then in the stronghold, while the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem.15David had a craving and said, “Oh that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem which is by the gate!”16So the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines, and drew water from the well of Bethlehem which was by the gate, and took [it] and brought [it] to David. Nevertheless he would not drink it, but poured it out to the LORD;17and he said, “Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this. [Shall I drink] the blood of the men who went in [jeopardy] of their lives?” Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did.18Abishai, the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah, was chief of the thirty. And he swung his spear against three hundred and killed [them], and had a name as well as the three.19He was most honored of the thirty, therefore he became their commander; however, he did not attain to the three.20Then Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, who had done mighty deeds, killed the two [sons of] Ariel of Moab. He also went down and killed a lion in the middle of a pit on a snowy day.21He killed an Egyptian, an impressive man. Now the Egyptian [had] a spear in his hand, but he went down to him with a club and snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear.22These [things] Benaiah the son of Jehoiada did, and had a name as well as the three mighty men.23He was honored among the thirty, but he did not attain to the three. And David appointed him over his guard.24Asahel the brother of Joab was among the thirty; Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem,25Shammah the Harodite, Elika the Harodite,26Helez the Paltite, Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite,27Abiezer the Anathothite, Mebunnai the Hushathite,28Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai the Netophathite,29Heleb the son of Baanah the Netophathite, Ittai the son of Ribai of Gibeah of the sons of Benjamin,30Benaiah a Pirathonite, Hiddai of the brooks of Gaash,31Abi-albon the Arbathite, Azmaveth the Barhumite,32Eliahba the Shaalbonite, the sons of Jashen, Jonathan,33Shammah the Hararite, Ahiam the son of Sharar the Ararite,34Eliphelet the son of Ahasbai, the son of the Maacathite, Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite,35Hezro the Carmelite, Paarai the Arbite,36Igal the son of Nathan of Zobah, Bani the Gadite,37Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai the Beerothite, armor bearers of Joab the son of Zeruiah,38Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite,39Uriah the Hittite; thirty-seven in all.). In 2 Samuel 23 this list is given at the end of David’s life, while here the heroes are mentioned at the beginning of his reign. The heroes and their actions are remembered here in relation to the time when David was not yet king.

From this we can learn the lesson that we are heroes if we already live up to the reign of the Lord Jesus in our lives. He will remember and appreciate this when we are with Him later. Nothing of what is done for the Lord in the time of His rejection is forgotten by Him (cf. Lk 22:28-3028“You are those who have stood by Me in My trials;29and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you30that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.).

The heroes are mentioned in connection with their actions in three areas. They have fought
1. with the enemies,
2. for the land and
3. for David.
The deeds of heroism reflect David’s great heroic deed in defeating Goliath.

The LORD has made David king, but here is seen the commitment of David’s followers to make him king. Their lives show what kind of people it are that have helped David to acquire the kingship. We see what spirit has inspired them and what has led them to their intense personal dedication.

We can also apply this to ourselves. Partly through our faithfulness, commitment and dedication, the way is paved for the Lord Jesus to establish His kingship here on earth. As soon as the last person has been added to the church of God, the Lord Jesus comes. As far as our responsibility is concerned, we can help to ensure that this happens quickly. Through our faithfulness, commitment, and dedication we can hasten the dawn of God’s day, that is, let it begin sooner (2Pet 3:1212looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!). The day of God is the day when God will “be all in all” (1Cor 15:2828When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.) and all things will answer to Whom He is.


Jashobeam

11These [constitute] the list of the mighty men whom David had: Jashobeam, the son of a Hachmonite, the chief of the thirty; he lifted up his spear against three hundred whom he killed at one time.

The name of Jashobeam appears here for the first time. He is not mentioned in the description of David’s life during his rejection. He is of those who come to David when David is in Ziklag (1Chr 12:1,61Now these are the ones who came to David at Ziklag, while he was still restricted because of Saul the son of Kish; and they were among the mighty men who helped [him] in war.6Elkanah, Isshiah, Azarel, Joezer, Jashobeam, the Korahites,). Here we see that he is mentioned as David’s main hero. His heroic act consists of killing three hundred men on a single occasion. He pierces all these enemies with his spear and radically deals with them.

There is no mention of who these enemies are. It gives us the example that we can defeat a powerful enemy who wants to overpower us or the people of God if we are attached to the Lord Jesus. For this we need to know how to deal with the spear. The spear is here an image of the Word of God. Only then we can defeat the enemy.


Eleazar

12After him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, who [was] one of the three mighty men. 13He was with David at Pasdammim when the Philistines were gathered together there to battle, and there was a plot of ground full of barley; and the people fled before the Philistines. 14They took their stand in the midst of the plot and defended it, and struck down the Philistines; and the LORD saved them by a great victory.

Eleazar defends the food of the people against the enemy, the Philistines. Philistines are people who live in the promised land and claim it for themselves, without any right to it. They represent people who reside on the Christian territory and call themselves Christians, while they have no life from God. They moderate that the Christian territory belongs to them and that only they know how to behave there. They fill in being a Christian at will, thereby depriving God’s people of the food of God’s Word. Such people are, for example, modernistic ministers.

There is a need for heroes to defend spiritual food against these influences. Such an act of heroism can be done only by someone who has love for God’s people. Here lies an important task for believers who have been given by the Lord as teachers to His church. They have to accurately handle the word of truth (2Tim 2:1515Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.), that is to say, explain each part of the truth correctly, so that the Word of God is food for the hearer’s heart and he is built up by it in his faith.


Three Heroes Fetch Water for David

15Now three of the thirty chief men went down to the rock to David, into the cave of Adullam, while the army of the Philistines was camping in the valley of Rephaim. 16David was then in the stronghold, while the garrison of the Philistines [was] then in Bethlehem. 17David had a craving and said, “Oh that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!” 18So the three broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water from the well of Bethlehem which [was] by the gate, and took [it] and brought [it] to David; nevertheless David would not drink it, but poured it out to the LORD; 19and he said, “Be it far from me before my God that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of these men [who went] at the risk of their lives? For at the risk of their lives they brought it.” Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did.

The three heroes who fetch water for David are characterized by love for David. What these three men do, may seem to unbelief an unreasonable or perhaps even a nonsensical love. The reason for this love deed is a childhood memory that David expresses. He would like someone to give him water to drink from the well of Bethlehem, where he grew up. He expresses this desire without addressing anyone directly. He does not give a command, but vents a sigh, as it were.

This sigh, this desire, is heard by these people. What they hear from David’s mouth and heart is enough to make an effort that David gets what he desires. They do not act on the basis of an order, but on the basis of a wish. They don’t discuss, but go. They must break through enemy lines twice. That doesn’t stop them from going anyway. They accomplish their mission and bring – we can imagine, with radiant faces – the water to David. Precisely because there is no meaningful argument for their action, the only motive can be their love for David.

David appreciates their deed. It penetrates deeply into him what efforts these men have made and what dangers they have defied. Therefore he does not want to drink the water they bring to him, but pours it out as a libation. For him this water is equal to their “blood”, that is “their life”, which they have put at risk for him (verse 1919and he said, “Be it far from me before my God that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of these men [who went] at the risk of their lives? For at the risk of their lives they brought it.” Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did.). The men know the meaning of the libation. Therefore what David does is not an insult to them, but a proof of his great appreciation of their deed. The pouring out of the water is the only act that, between the mention of all the heroic deeds of his men, is mentioned of David himself.


Abishai

20As for Abshai the brother of Joab, he was chief of the thirty, and he swung his spear against three hundred and killed them; and he had a name as well as the thirty. 21Of the three in the second [rank] he was the most honored and became their commander; however, he did not attain to the [first] three.

Abshai or Abishai is mentioned several times in the history of David. He is the oldest of the three sons of Zeruiah, the sister of David (1Chr 2:1616and their sisters [were] Zeruiah and Abigail. And the three sons of Zeruiah [were] Abshai, Joab and Asahel.). The first time his name is mentioned when David asks who wants to go with him to Saul, who pursues him. This is a dangerous undertaking. Abishai then presents himself (1Sam 26:66Then David said to Ahimelech the Hittite and to Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, saying, “Who will go down with me to Saul in the camp?” And Abishai said, “I will go down with you.”). Abishai has always stayed with David in the time that David is pursued by Saul.

The act mentioned here is not mentioned in the description of his fates with David. It is an impressive act. Within the second group of three, he takes first place and is even the commander of the other two heroes. At the same time it is mentioned that he did not reach the height of the first three.

That may seem like a disappointment, a shadow over his fine performance. Yet that is only true if he were an ambitious man. We have no indications of this. His brother Joab is ambitious. That this of Abishai is noticed is therefore not meant to be a denigration of his heroic deed. It is about the appreciation of his deed in comparison with the deeds of others. The Lord determines the value of everything.

It may be that others have done more for the Lord than we have. We don’t have to be sad about that, find it unfair or envy those others. We may know that what we have been able to do is fully appreciated by Him.


Benaiah

22Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, mighty in deeds, struck down the two [sons of] Ariel of Moab. He also went down and killed a lion inside a pit on a snowy day. 23He killed an Egyptian, a man of [great] stature five cubits tall. Now in the Egyptian’s hand [was] a spear like a weaver’s beam, but he went down to him with a club and snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. 24These [things] Benaiah the son of Jehoiada did, and had a name as well as the three mighty men. 25Behold, he was honored among the thirty, but he did not attain to the three; and David appointed him over his guard.

Benaiah performs three heroic deeds by defeating three enemies who were a threat to the people of God. Successively
1. he defeats two sons of Ariel from Moab,
2. he kills a lion in a pit at a time when there is snow, and
3. he defeats a giant of an Egyptian, whom he kills with his own weapon.

Benaiah was a very determined man. Nor is it the case that after one victory he thought it was all right. He has a keen eye for everything that threatens God’s people. Every time new danger presented itself, he dispels it by a firm and powerful action. When defeating the lion and the Egyptian, he turns to the enemy, he takes the initiative. Benaiah is a man with courage and perseverance.

From his achievements we can learn important spiritual lessons. We must remember, however, that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual [forces] of wickedness in the heavenly [places]” (Eph 6:1212For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual [forces] of wickedness in the heavenly [places].). The three enemies that Benaiah defeats and kills are a picture of three spiritual enemy powers that we face in our lives. We will see that Moab is a picture of the flesh in the believer, that the lion here is a picture of Satan and that the Egyptian is a picture of the world.

In the spiritual application, defeating the enemies takes place when someone comes to faith through the preaching of the gospel. Every time someone comes to faith, Satan and the world are defeated. We also see it when believers are led to live by the Spirit and thereby kill the workings of the flesh. [For a more detailed applications of the heroic deeds of Benaiah, see Explanation & Application of 2 Samuel 23:20-23.]

Benaiah is honored, but not like the others. Yet his reward comes after years, when David’s wanderings are over and David has become king over Israel. That is the time of decoration. Then David appoints him as the head of his bodyguard (verse 2525Behold, he was honored among the thirty, but he did not attain to the three; and David appointed him over his guard.). The long time that has passed before Benaiah gains this important position may be an encouragement for believers who have to wait a long time for God’s public acknowledgment. Believers who see that believers who are less spiritual or even carnal minded seem to have more prosperity need not be discouraged. Once, at God’s time, perhaps only after years or at the open reign of the Lord Jesus, comes God’s public acknowledgment of what has been done for Him.

During the rejection of David Benaiah remained faithful to him. Without shivering, he fought enemies that were a threat to society. It did not matter to him whether they approached him or whether he had to go there himself. Where he saw danger, he acted fearlessly. We’ve seen that in the previous verses.

David acknowledges Benaiah’s impressive record of service and makes him the head of his bodyguard. This ‘promotion’ must have been a great joy for Benaiah. He was already so attached to his king and now he will be even more closely involved in David’s life. As the head of the bodyguard he will have to consult a lot with David. David will inform him of his whereabouts and his daily activities. David will tell him where he intends to go. On that basis Benaiah will have to investigate where dangers threaten and how they can be circumvented or rendered harmless.

We can see the next lesson here. Every victory over the flesh, the devil or the world is rewarded by the Lord Jesus with something of Himself. The power to say no to something the devil or the world offers is only found in our love for the Lord Jesus. For the Lord Jesus, this proof of our love is so important that He will tell us more about Himself. We are going to discover more and more in the Bible about how He thinks and acts, now and in the future.

At the same time he gives us the responsibility to keep what He entrusts us and not to let it take away from us. Thus Paul says to Timothy: “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you” (1Tim 6:20a20O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly [and] empty chatter [and] the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”—). Then the task is that we do not engage in “empty chatter [and] the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”” (1Tim 6:20b20O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly [and] empty chatter [and] the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”—). This is found among liberal theologians who, by appealing to the Bible, justify the most brutal sins and thus deceive countless people.

I read an example about a pastor who, appealing to “anything is lawful” (1Cor 10:2323All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.), justifies a homosexual relationship! As if that is a relationship in which God’s thoughts of love between husband and wife are also expressed. These are enemies of the worst kind. The Lord Jesus wants us to hold fast what we have – in this example, marriage as He has instituted it – until He comes (Rev 3:1111I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.).

When David has grown old, Benaiah faces a great danger that threatens his king. The danger comes from within. A son of David, Adoniah, wants to become king, while it is clear that Solomon is the rightful successor of David. This history is in 1 Kings 1. Adoniah is a handsome boy and a cunning talker. He also knows who to involve in his conspiracy and who to keep out. He knows it makes no sense to ask Benaiah to help him. It is clear to him that he cannot get him under his influence.

Does our environment also know us as someone with character? Or are we rather quick to go along with someone who has a certain ‘charisma’? Are we relying on the way someone comes across without paying attention to the content? Then ‘Adoniah’ has got hold on us. We no longer pay attention to the Lord Jesus, who we see as ‘old’ in the sense of old-fashioned. We are looking for new impulses to live our faith. How God wants it to be is no longer so important. ‘Experience’ or emotion is what it is all about. Not that experience or emotion is not important, but the ‘kick’-faith is not from God. It is not the Lord Jesus Who is central in this, but man and his feelings.

Let us think about whether we are in the right company. That is the case with Benaiah. He has good comrades in the priest Zadok and the prophet Nathan. They are not invited by Adonia either. Who are our comrades, from whom do we have support when we need it? Are our friends spiritual-minded people who want to live with the Lord Jesus?


Other Heroes

26Now the mighty men of the armies [were] Asahel the brother of Joab, Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem, 27Shammoth the Harorite, Helez the Pelonite, 28Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite, Abiezer the Anathothite, 29Sibbecai the Hushathite, Ilai the Ahohite, 30Maharai the Netophathite, Heled the son of Baanah the Netophathite, 31Ithai the son of Ribai of Gibeah of the sons of Benjamin, Benaiah the Pirathonite, 32Hurai of the brooks of Gaash, Abiel the Arbathite, 33Azmaveth the Baharumite, Eliahba the Shaalbonite, 34the sons of Hashem the Gizonite, Jonathan the son of Shagee the Hararite, 35Ahiam the son of Sacar the Hararite, Eliphal the son of Ur, 36Hepher the Mecherathite, Ahijah the Pelonite, 37Hezro the Carmelite, Naarai the son of Ezbai, 38Joel the brother of Nathan, Mibhar the son of Hagri, 39Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai the Berothite, the armor bearer of Joab the son of Zeruiah, 40Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite, 41Uriah the Hittite, Zabad the son of Ahlai, 42Adina the son of Shiza the Reubenite, a chief of the Reubenites, and thirty with him, 43Hanan the son of Maacah and Joshaphat the Mithnite, 44Uzzia the Ashterathite, Shama and Jeiel the sons of Hotham the Aroerite, 45Jediael the son of Shimri and Joha his brother, the Tizite, 46Eliel the Mahavite and Jeribai and Joshaviah, the sons of Elnaam, and Ithmah the Moabite, 47Eliel and Obed and Jaasiel the Mezobaite.

God considered it important to list the names of these heroes and to preserve them. With very few exceptions we only know their names, but God knows exactly what they did for David and for Him. In this way God also keeps His registers today. There are deeds that stand out, while countless other deeds remained concealed. However, God knows how to appreciate every heroic act and to reward it in His time (cf. Mt 25:14-2314“For [it is] just like a man [about] to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them.15To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.16Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents.17In the same manner the one who [had received] the two [talents] gained two more.18But he who received the one [talent] went away, and dug [a hole] in the ground and hid his master’s money.19“Now after a long time the master of those slaves *came and *settled accounts with them.20The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’21His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’22“Also the one who [had received] the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’23His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’; Lk 19:11-1911While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately.12So He said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and [then] return.13And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas and said to them, ‘Do business [with this] until I come [back].’14But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’15When he returned, after receiving the kingdom, he ordered that these slaves, to whom he had given the money, be called to him so that he might know what business they had done.16The first appeared, saying, ‘Master, your mina has made ten minas more.’17And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.’18The second came, saying, ‘Your mina, master, has made five minas.’19And he said to him also, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’). God rewards according to faithfulness, not according to the greatness of the deed.

We have several lists in which believers are mentioned, sometimes with mention of deeds. In the list of heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 first many names are mentioned, but at the end there are no more names, there we only read about deeds  (Heb 11:1-401Now faith is the assurance of [things] hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.2For by it the men of old gained approval.3By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.4By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.5By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.6And without faith it is impossible to please [Him], for he who comes to God must believe that He is and [that] He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.7By faith Noah, being warned [by God] about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.8By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.9By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign [land], dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise;10for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.11By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.12Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, [as many descendants] as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.13All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.14For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own.15And indeed if they had been thinking of that [country] from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.16But as it is, they desire a better [country], that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.17By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten [son];18[it was he] to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.”19He considered that God is able to raise [people] even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.20By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come.21By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, [leaning] on the top of his staff.22By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones.23By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.24By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,25choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,26considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.27By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.28By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them.29By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though [they were passing] through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.30By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.31By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.32And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets,33who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed [acts of] righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions,34quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.35Women received [back] their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection;36and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment.37They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated38([men] of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.39And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised,40because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.). See also the list of names in Romans 16, where Paul mentions believers, sometimes with, sometimes without an addition  (Rom 16:1-161I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea;2that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well.3Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus,4who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles;5also [greet] the church that is in their house. Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first convert to Christ from Asia.6Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you.7Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.8Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord.9Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.10Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the [household] of Aristobulus.11Greet Herodion, my kinsman. Greet those of the [household] of Narcissus, who are in the Lord.12Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, workers in the Lord. Greet Persis the beloved, who has worked hard in the Lord.13Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine.14Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brethren with them.15Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.16Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.). This is also the case with the disciples of the Lord Jesus. Of some we know a lot, of others less, of a few only the name. But they were with the Lord and followed Him. That He remembers and will reward.

Some names of the list are known to us. We know the first name, Asahel. He is called the brother of Joab. This makes it all the more striking that apart from this mention to make it clear which Asahel it is about, the name of the honorary Joab does not appear on the list as David’s hero.

A remarkable, well-known name on the list is that of Uriah (verse 4141Uriah the Hittite, Zabad the son of Ahlai,). David killed him to own his wife, Bathsheba (2Sam 11:14-17,22-2714Now in the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent [it] by the hand of Uriah.15He had written in the letter, saying, “Place Uriah in the front line of the fiercest battle and withdraw from him, so that he may be struck down and die.”16So it was as Joab kept watch on the city, that he put Uriah at the place where he knew there [were] valiant men.17The men of the city went out and fought against Joab, and some of the people among David’s servants fell; and Uriah the Hittite also died.22So the messenger departed and came and reported to David all that Joab had sent him [to tell].23The messenger said to David, “The men prevailed against us and came out against us in the field, but we pressed them as far as the entrance of the gate.24Moreover, the archers shot at your servants from the wall; so some of the king’s servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is also dead.”25Then David said to the messenger, “Thus you shall say to Joab, ‘Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another; make your battle against the city stronger and overthrow it’; and [so] encourage him.”26Now when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband.27When the [time of] mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house and she became his wife; then she bore him a son. But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the LORD.). We should not be surprised that his name is mentioned. He has shown great loyalty to David.


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