The Mighty Men
Updated: Nov 12, 2019
“These were the chiefs of David’s mighty men – they… gave his kingship strong support to extend it over the whole land.” (1 Chronicles 11:10)
On November 11, we remember those many soldiers who fought to defend our freedom.
Even though some of the battles were contested seventy or even a hundred years ago by numerous battalions and squadrons, individual acts of heroism still stand out. A lowly private who stormed a machine gun nest with only a rifle. A pilot shot down behind enemy lines who crawled all the way back to safety with a broken leg.
Each year such stories are retold as shining examples of dedication, bravery and patriotism. Hearing these true tales of victory, and seeing all those white crosses that mark the resting-place of many whose stories are now forgotten, we are moved to say thanks to those ever-dwindling veterans with medal-covered chests.
The remembrance of war heroes is found in Scripture, too. In 1 Chronicles 11:10-47 we can read of King David’s mighty men. We find here numerous names, but some of these stand out because of the greatness of their deeds. Jashobeam, who killed 300 men single-handedly (v. 11). “The Three,” who broke through Philistine lines in order to get David a drink of water (vv. 17-18). Or Benaiah, who “struck down an Egyptian who was seven and half feet tall” (v. 23).
Like the military heroes of our nation, these mighty men of Israel carried out such exploits with purpose. It wasn’t mindless bravado, it was intentional combat. For the Chronicler says this about the great Israelite warriors and their chiefs: “They… gave [David’s] kingship strong support to extend it over the whole land, as the LORD had promised” (v. 10).
These men fought to help David in his rule as king. The nation Israel faced a host of external enemies and internal challenges, yet in these mighty men God provided David with strong and necessary military support. With them lined up behind him, he was able to defeat the Philistines, the Moabites, the Arameans, and many others. What’s more, the whole nation was now able to be united under one godly king.
In the grand scheme of things, the individual acts of these mighty men were very small: 300 enemies killed here, a tall foe there. Yet it was on the backs of these war heroes that the LORD built for himself a mighty kingdom. Just as God had promised, David would be king over all Israel!
And God’s promise extended way past the modest gains made in David’s time. The LORD also swore to David that one of his offspring would be set over God’s house and kingdom forever (cf. 1 Chron 17:14). David, and all Israel with him, looked forward to an eternal Messiah who’d be a great king – as great as David, or even Solomon, and then so much greater.
The mighty men of David fought for a king who was but a shadow of coming greatness. One day King David would die, one day Israel would fall, yet the brave deeds of the mighty men were not in vain. They are remembered, for by God’s grace and with his power these men had a part in preparing the way for the coming King. With spear and sword they defended the house from which the Messiah would come!
It was God who ensured the enduring impact of David’s mighty men – let us pray to God that also the past deeds of our nation’s military are not in vain. Though their stories are recorded in the history books, the names and deeds of our nation’s brave soldiers are now slowly fading from relevance. For today the tyrant of unrestrained lawlessness is advancing, and our free country is being willingly enslaved.
May we pray and work fervently for our nation, but at the same time let us work for our other country, the one not of this earth. Remember the victory of our great King, the son of David, who single-handedly vanquished his enemies. Remember the victory of Christ – and hear his call to join his army as kings and as queens. Mighty in the power of the Spirit, let us fight the devil and fight all those who are on his side!
For though our deeds be small and our hearts fearful, it’s God “who leads us in triumphal procession in Christ” (2 Cor 2:14). In Christ God gives us the victory that never fades.