David's Men Of War
By Rodney W. Francis
The success of any king or leader lies in the ability of his supporting army of trained warriors to overcome his enemies. In this Chapter we shall look at the army of men who gathered around David prior to the time he was made king over Israel in place of Saul.
I believe there is a significant message here for all who profess to be Christian; one in which we must realize as never before that we are all called to be soldiers, fighters of the “good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12 and 2 Timothy 2:1-4 ), and overcomers against all that would seek to lower the standards of the Kingdom of God (1 John 5:4-5 ).
Our basis for study is 1 Chronicles 12 and I would encourage you to take your Bible and read it through carefully and prayerfully, seeking to catch a picture in your mind of the setting of the situation at that time in the life of David.
Israel was going through a time of change. King Saul, through disobedience, had failed God, and therefore the people. Saul had lost the anointing (“unction”) of God and, even though he knew the Lord’s hand was on David to ultimately replace him, Saul hounded David and persecuted him without cause (this is often the case when God’s call and anointing is on someone ~ it makes others jealous). Because David feared for his life he was forced to live in mountains and caves. But the time had come for David to be made king of Israel by the word of the Lord.
Even while David was still in hiding, a growing number of men joined themselves to him and gave him their undivided allegiance (2 Samuel 22:1-2 ). They knew God’s hand was on David to be their new king.
THEY WERE MIGHTY MEN:
The men who joined themselves to David were mighty men. That is, they were “powerful, champions, chiefs, excellent, strong and valiant” men (Strong’s). They were armed men who knew how to handle their weapons of war. They were “the mighty men, helpers in the war, armed with bows, using both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows with the bow” (1 Chronicles 12:1-2 , NKJV). And they were all relatives of Saul (New Living Translation)! They were“equipped” and they were “experts”!
Each one loyal to the cause ~ the cause of bringing David from the life of a fugitive to that of undisputed king of Israel; the cause of seeing the word of the Lord brought to pass. Fearless, fit, fighting, lion-like men! How wonderful to have such men supporting you!
BACKBONES ~ or WISHBONES?
Sadly, we seemingly see almost the opposite manifestation in our Christian ranks today. People are afraid to get involved, reluctant to stand up and be counted, and are ignorant of the fact that we are called to be soldiers of the Cross of Jesus Christ. Christianity is for men and women with backbones ~ not wishbones! We have to “fight the good fight of faith. Lay hold of the eternal life, to which you(we) were called . . .” (1 Timothy 6:12 , NIV). Every true minister of the Gospel longs for men and women who will stand with him/her and faithfully fight the spiritual battles we continually have to face in these troubled, Christ-rejecting closing days of time.
These were men who “crossed the (flooded Jordan) river, scattering the people who lived in the valleys both east and west of the river” (1 Chronicles 12:15 , Today’s English Version)!
A DIFFICULT TIME
It was a difficult time for David; a time of transition. If you have never been through a time of translation, where one has to let go of the securities that we have become accustomed to, in order to walk into the new and next season of our lives, then it would be difficult to understand what David was experiencing at that time of his life. Transition times make us vulnerable, as there is a part of us that does not want to let go of those things that we have become used to ~ and especially if we do not know what God is wanting us walk into. Transition times take us out of our “comfort zones.” It is a time of test in our trusting God!
It was also a time of change for the men of war. Those who had been loyal to Saul recognized that the blessing and anointing of God was now resting on David. They had to decide which man they were going to serve. Making decisions like that are not easy, especially if one has been taught to “not rock the boat,” to be loyal to your leader(s), etc. You can be accused of being unfaithful to God, a rebel, “a lone ranger” if you are seen aligning yourself with a new leader ~ when the old one is still very much on the scene!
David also needed to know that the men who were joining him were true men, and reliable. In 1 Chronicles 12:16-18 we read how David was unsure about some men of Benjamin and Judah who came to support him. He said to them: “If you have come peaceably to me to help me, my heart will be united with you; but if to betray me to my enemies, since there is no wrong (“violence”) in my hands, may the God of our fathers look and bring judgment.” The Holy Spirit came upon Amasai and the matter was settled by the Lord.
A GREAT ARMY
Day by day David was encouraged by the numbers of men who came to help him. Soon they had grown “until it was a great army, like the army of God” (1 Chronicles 12:22 ). They were not flabby, casual, undisciplined, apathetic “sissies” filling in time ~ they “were equipped for war, and came to David at Hebron to turn over the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 12:23 ).
They were men of valour (“virtue, strength, power” – Strong’s). They had a job to do; they knew what had to be done, and they were totally committed to bringing about the will of the Lord concerning David’s call to be king!
“All these men of war, who could keep ranks, came to Hebron with a loyal heart, to make David king over all Israel; and all the rest of Israel were of one mind to make David king” (1 Chronicles 12:38 ).
How wonderful it would be to see the same total commitment and dedication to the cause of Christ today.
WHAT MAKES A MAN OF WAR?
This chapter of Chronicles gives us a real insight into the type of men who stood with David. But what makes a man . . . mighty . . . an expert . . . ready . . . prepared . . . valiant?
Yet added to these, I believe there is one great basic ~ or attitude ~ which must continually be kept in mind. Those men never got the reputation they did without it. What was it? They were men of TEACHABLE SPIRITS. Before they could attain their high positions and expertise they first had to be taught, trained, equipped; to learn how to keep in step with the rest of the army. Galatians 6:6 should be considered here: “Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor” (NIV). They had to let David equip them with the skills to win the battle, to do the job. They were not individuals “doing their own thing” without regard to their fellow soldiers. True, each man had to prove himself individually ~ but the ultimate purpose for any soldier is to fight in an army. Paul calls it being “workers together” . . . “workers together with Him (Jesus)” (2 Corinthians 6:1 ). The Church (Army) is many members, not one member (1 Corinthians 12:12-27 ). As individuals we have to learn to flow together with the whole Body of Christ. After many years of ministry and seeking to train teams, I have observed time and time again that many Christians do not think team; they only think about themselves and what they have to do. When they have to make a major decision, they rarely consult with others, and simply go ahead and do what they think is best. It does not always work out for the better for them. So,
TWO OTHER ARMY MINISTRIES
While we are still in 1 Chronicles 12 let us note two other important types of people who made up the great army of men who stood with David:
1. MEN WHO KNEW WHAT TO DO:
“of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their command” (1 Chronicles 12:32 ).
David had men who understood the times, who knew what Israel ought to do ~ men who knew God’s timing for His army. (In 2 Kings 6 we read of Elisha being such a man; the Syrian army could not prevail against Israel because Elisha knew their plans)! They were prophetic men! And David had a high respect for the prophetic ministry. He gained the positive benefits from the prophetic men he built around him.
David had proven men of understanding. They were not novices, nor were they men who “loved to display their knowledge.” They were respected and trustworthy men, for the whole army of those mighty men were “at their command.” Oh, may God give us more men and women like that today!
2. COOKS AND PROVIDERS:
Thousands of mighty men were involved in that army. It was not enough that they be taught to obey those “who had the rule over them” (Hebrews 13:17 ); that they be marksmen (and experts at that); that they had faces “like the faces of lions, and were as swift as gazelles on the mountains” (verse 8). All that would have been to no avail if they were not fed. Those men had to be provided for! Praise God for the ministry of cooks; for those who give and provide the wherewithal to keep God’s army nurtured and marching forward!
Was it a burden to those who had a “common” call to that of an army cook? No! A thousand times no! Those cooks were called to cook ~ and they cooked! Did they do it grudgingly? No. How did they minister to that mighty army of mighty men with might appetites? With JOY!
“There was joy in Israel” (verses 39-40).
THE WAR IS NOT OVER!
When we come to the New Testament/Covenant we discover our calling in Christ Jesus is to be strong, to fight. We, too, are in a war. Turn to 2 Timothy 2:1-7 and you will discover we are exhorted to apply those things we have heard, and to commit the same to faithful men, who shall then be able to teach others also.
“You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit (“to put or place with any one on one’s own account, i.e. to entrust, deposit” – Bullinger’s) these to faithful men who will be able to teach (“to teach, to give instruction or direction” – Bullinger’s) others also. You therefore must endure hardship (“to undergo hardship:- be afflicted, endure afflictions ~ hardness ~ suffer trouble” – Strong’s) as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs (“business”) of this life, that he may please (“to please, to be pleasing and acceptable to; also, to seek to please or gratify” – Bullinger’s) Him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider (“to perceive, with the mind” – Young’s; “to exercise the mind ~ observe ~ i.e. figuratively to comprehend, heed:- consider, perceive, think, understand” – Strong’s) what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.”
Please do not rush on reading. Stop and consider what this Scripture is saying. In our devotion and service for Christ, do we have a disciplined soldier’s approach, or are we too soft?
If you have been teachable ~ and still are ~ then you will be able to teach others of the necessary commitment to be a part of God’s army today. And army life is not all classroom! All Christian teaching should be carried through to a practical, “hands on” outworking reality. Otherwise, how do we know if the teaching works? There’s nothing worse than finding oneself in a battle ~ and not knowing what to do, where to go, who to stand with, what weapon to fight with, etc.
WHO ARE WE FIGHTING?
Who are we fighting? The devil!
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles (“methods, arts, artifices, cunning devices, contrivances, crafts, wiles” – Bullinger’s; “schemings” - NKJV) of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers (“authorities”), against the rulers (“World-ruler” – Young’s; “lord of the world. The world holders of this darkness” – Bullinger’s) of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts (“missiles, weapons, e.g. a dart, arrow or javelin; sometimes fitted with combustibles” – Bullinger’s; the word “combustibles” means “capable of igniting and burning; easily annoyed; excitable” – Collins) of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints – and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the Gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:10-20 ).
Yes, there is a subtle enemy called the devil who is working against us to rob and destroy the anointing of God in our lives. His tactics are to render us powerless and useless so that we will be of no threat to him and his evil kingdom. Whether we like it or not we are in a war ~ a spiritual war. And it is a “winner take all” battle! If this is not so, then why would the Scriptures be so emphatic for us to be strong in the Lord and to be equipped with the armour that Jesus has provided for us?
WHAT ARE WE FIGHTING?
What are we fighting? Strongholds!
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds(“fortresses”), casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 ).
Whether you realize it or not there is a battle raging right now and it is for the minds of men and women, boys and girls right around the whole world. You and I have had all kinds of battles in our own minds (and we will have more), because the enemy hates us to believe the truth that Jesus came to give us. But God has given us armour and weapons to be able to defeat the devil. Let us use them to the glory of God! If we do not use what God has given us, then we will lose the battle. It is that strong! As a good soldier of Jesus Christ we must stand our ground and not allow the enemy to drive us back into his subtle ways.
WE MUST BE READY!
This is no time to be double-minded and double-hearted . . . to be entangled in the “barb-wire” of this world . . . to be living to please ourselves. We have a call to arms and we must be ready for the battle. It is time to fall into ranks with God’s anointed leaders (David’s) so that His Church can arise and shake the world. We can do it together, for “Greater is He (Jesus) who is in us than he (the enemy) who is in the world” (1 John 4:4 ).