“Preparing To Go Testify”
1 Chronicles 11:10-19
Witnesses to God must be willing to trust Him in despairing circumstances.
Gather Strength in Safety
Willingly Face Peril
Go the Extra Mile
Gather Strength in Safety
1 Chronicles 11:10, NKJV
Now these were the heads of the mighty men whom David had, who strengthened themselves with him in his kingdom, with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the Lord concerning Israel.
The greatest thing that causes people to live in anxiety and worry is the lack of knowing who they are and the purpose of their lives. This title of “mighty men” is referring to being men of valor, bravery, and skill. It is likely that the mighty men were the same who served with David while under the authority of King Saul and went with him as he fled from Saul (1 Samuel 22:1-2). Over those who were considered David’s strongest supporters were these mighty men. They offered David advice and followed his every command since they believed David was their next king God had anointed to rule over Israel.
These men knew their purpose was to protect and promote David in their service to the Lord. David’s mighty men were focused on the task that was given them in conflict and during times of peace. In times of conflict they fought for what they knew God had called and strengthened them to overcome. In times of peace they trained and prepared for the next conflict they would undoubtedly encounter. They were prepared to battle enemies from outside and even from inside the community of God’s people. These were trained and skilled warriors David entrusted his life to on and off the field of battle.
Dedication of this degree is something that is nearly unheard of in the cultures of developed first world countries. The self-centered societies of American and European cultures place more emphasis on personal gain then serving others in a way to help them achieve the task they were called to do. Loyalty often stops as soon as the one who is loyal is no longer directly benefited by the one they have followed and admired. Loyalty for many people is only given in exchange for something that is needed or wanted from the person they are choosing to show loyalty to. Whenever the one who is being loyal or the one who is being shown loyalty no longer receives benefit from that loyalty, there is some type of betrayal which is done to one or the other and trust is broken.
There was no such expression of loyalty for it was based on the will of God rather than the benefits people would receive. There were times when loyalty to David cost them their freedom, position in society, and in some cases their lives as they went into battle to fight with David. All were able and willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for God’s anointed king. The fierce allegiance these mighty men demonstrated is something they were able to do since it was ultimately God whom they served by their loyalty to God’s chosen king of His people.
The loyalty displayed by these men who led David’s military resembled the disciples who followed Christ in their dedication to Him. David was a man of war (1 Chronicles 28:3). Jesus Christ was full of grace and truth (John 1:14). David’s close followers shed the blood of thousands in their service to God at David’s side because that is what they were called and equipped to do at that time (2 Samuel 23:8-12). Jesus’ closest followers destroyed the strongholds of sin which held people captive through the truth of the Gospel of Jesus the Christ, the Son of God (Matthew 10:1-4).
Those who followed David and Jesus understood and accepted that they would give up all to be able to be used of Almighty God to accomplish His will even though it meant their death. David’s mighty men were fierce in physical battle, but the spiritual battle faced by the followers of Jesus is far more dangerous since eternal souls are at stake. Therefore, Jesus described the kind of loyalty that is needed to be His disciple. “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24, NKJV). Later on in Jesus’ ministry He clarified this even more by saying all other loves and things in this world must be secondary to the love and loyalty shown to Christ (Luke 14:25-27).
Jesus modeled this loyalty to the Father by making Himself a servant even unto death on a cross in order that the will of God the Father would be accomplished through Him (Philippians 2:5-8). The apostles modeled this same loyalty of Jesus to God through their faith in Him by suffering greatly so that they would have the privilege to participate in the will of God the Father (Acts 5:40-42; 2 Corinthians 11:23-33). Suffering can certainly be physical, but it is best understood as a denial of self in order for God’s character to be seen in and through His people in every circumstance they endure throughout their lifetime on this earth.
This strength to endure hardship is prepared for in those times where conflict is at a minimum or peace is being enjoyed at the moment. The disciples were in the Word of God and engaging in fellowship to grow stronger in their faith in Christ by the spurring on of one another to do good works which reflect God’s glory through them (Acts 2:41-47, 6:1-4, 10:1-4, 9-16, 13:1-3; 2 Timothy 1:13-14, 3:12-17; Hebrews 10:23-25). Disciples of Christ must be training and preparing for the challenges and persecutions they will encounter in the future in times of peace and in moments of joy, just as David’s men did not set around entertaining themselves when they were not in battle.
The church in developed countries need to learn something from their brothers and sisters in Christ who are being suffering for Christ physically, socially, and emotionally around the world. These followers of Christ are so strong to be faithful in enduring hardship in the name of Christ because they see God’s Word as their only source of joy, hope, and peace. They understand the urgency of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who are held captive by sin as they once were before finding freedom and forgiveness through Christ.
The enemies of God do not have to work as hard against the church in developed countries due to the amount of distractions that are available and comfort that makes even the smallest inconvenience appear as suffering. Most people in developed countries consider it suffering and oppressive to go have to walk a mile for anything, let alone walk to be able to attend a time of worship of God who sent His Son, Jesus, to suffer and die on their behalf for the forgiveness of their sins.
Preparing for things before they happen is not a foreign concept. Students learn material, practice, and apply what they learn before taking tests. People pack appropriately before traveling. Musicians and athletes practice their skills before performing in the actual event. It is obvious that a person needs to prepare to serve God privately before they can fulfill what God has called and is equipping them to do publicly.
People are all the same. The disciples who followed Jesus during His ministry, the martyrs who have given their lives in the service to Christ through the centuries, and those who proclaim faith in Christ Jesus in the twenty-first century are no different from one another. Strength that is displayed in grief, pain, and conflict was developed long before the time it was needed by regular quiet time with God in prayer, Bible study, and fellowship with other believers. Grace and strength will shine through in times of peril when these things are done daily.
Willingly Face Peril
1 Chronicles 11:11-14, NKJV
And this is the number of the mighty men whom David had: Jashobeam the son of a Hachmonite, chief of the captains; he had lifted up his spear against three hundred, killed by him at one time.
After him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, who was one of the three mighty men. He was with David at Pasdammim. Now there the Philistines were gathered for battle, and there was a piece of ground full of barley. So the people fled from the Philistines. But they stationed themselves in the middle of that field, defended it, and killed the Philistines. So the Lord brought about a great victory.
There have been many famous fighters throughout the world known for their fighting skills. Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, and Jet Li are a few who are known for their ability to fight multiple combatants on and off the movie screen. These men would have been unable to withstand or match the skills which God had blessed David and his mighty men with when it came to fighting hundreds alone and overcoming all of them. Jashobeam killed three hundred trained military men with a single spear. Adino slaughtered eight hundred men at one time (2 Samuel 23:8). Eleazar and David alone defended and held the field against the Philistine army alone and overcame them. We cannot forget Samson who killed a thousand Philistines with the jaw bone of a donkey.
The movies and legends that portray or speak of a single person standing against hundreds and thousands alone was reality for those who trusted in the Lord to overcome their enemies. There are many things in Scripture which people find extremely difficult to believe its accuracy since it is humanly impossible to do the feats recorded. It must be remembered that Israel’s success over the Egyptians and Canaanites as well as all the miraculous feats of the judges and prophets were done by God’s divine intervention alone. God has made it clear throughout history to His people that His power is not limited to what people can understand (Genesis 18:13-14; Numbers 11:21-23; Matthew 19:23-26; Luke 1:34-37).
The men who followed David who were known as his mighty men, were mighty because they trusted that the Lord would do what He said He would do and allowed God to do it through them. There is no one who can attend to the work of the Lord halfheartedly with doubt and fear having control over a person’s heart and mind. The dangers were real and life-threatening yet they did not think of themselves. They focused on their calling to protect and promote the anointed king in order to accomplish the will of God. There was nothing personally that would challenge or distract them from their calling. Everything they had involved themselves in was either helping them train for battle or engaging them in battle.
The twelve disciples closest to Jesus were in many ways like David’s mighty men. Both committed their lives to the service of God. The mighty men who followed David did it for the anointed king of God; the disciples of Jesus did it for the Anointed One, the Son of God. Neither of them served in their strength but by the power of the Holy Spirit that rested upon them and was poured out into their hearts. In all these cases it was God who supplied the victories and not the people. Therefore, the dangers and peril they encountered in their service was counted as worth whatever the cost to themselves personally would be even if it costs them their physical lives.
There are many in Jesus’ time who claimed they would follow Him anywhere. Some like the twelve disciples of Christ who left all to follow Jesus, who comforted them by revealing, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30, NKJV). Please do not read over Jesus’ words too quickly or the promise of persecutions will be missed in this time.
The person who follows Jesus as His disciple may give up many material things, but what is received even mingled with persecutions is by far better than anything they had left because of eternal life with God in the age to come. This is something that those who sit in comfortable buildings regularly on chairs, pews, or even on the ground out in the elements to gather together and worship God in spirit and truth need to remember: The best is yet to be experienced. There were others like those who approached Jesus to follow Him who had divided interests and distractions they were unwilling to let go of in their life.
These halfhearted disciples added restrictions like first fulfilling family obligations and bid goodbye to family and friends before leaving with Jesus to travel with Him (Luke 9:57-62). This is the same as people today who are waiting to make a commitment to surrender their life to Christ’s authority when they are older, when they get married, when they start a family, when the children are a little older, but what happens if nothing is ever done. Today, if you hear the voice of God, do not wait another minute to seek His forgiveness for sin (Hebrews 3:7-15). That which is not started in the moment it is decided are those things that rarely begin, last only for a short time, and often fail to meet the goal a person sets or desires to achieve.
The strength of the church is as strong as the commitment each person has to following Christ as His disciple. Being a disciple or follower of Christ is more than the things that are done, but encompasses everything of the person. This means that God’s will comes first over comfort, preference, and even logic because these things are all limited in their corruption from sin. Faith in Christ and submission to the Word of God as the ultimate authority in all of life is the basis of the person who claims to be a disciple of Christ. This has nothing to do with perfection or even living a sinless life. These things are impossible for mankind to achieve in their fallen state. Neither of these facts have the ability to hinder the Holy Spirit from overcoming that which has been distorted by sin and bring the cleansing of God into the life of the individual who submits to the will of God.
David’s mighty men overcame impossible odds militarily because they trusted and had faith in the promise of victory God gave them. The disciples of Christ proclaimed the Gospel through intense persecution to provide the opportunity for hundreds of thousands to come to know the Lord after His resurrection because they followed the leading of the Holy Spirit who lived within them. These great men in Scripture did more than fulfill what David and Jesus commanded them, but were attentive to and desired to go beyond their call of duty.
Go the Extra Mile
1 Chronicles 11:15-19, NKJV
Now three of the thirty chief men went down to the rock to David, into the cave of Adullam; and the army of the Philistines encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem. And David said with longing, “Oh, that someone would give me a drink of water from the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!” So the three broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well of Bethlehem that 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. And he said, “Far be it from me, O my God, that I should do this! Shall I drink the blood of these men who have put their lives in jeopardy? For at the risk of their lives they brought it.” Therefore he would not drink it. These things were done by the three mighty men.
Jashobeam, Eleazar, and Shammah (2 Samuel 23:11-12) were well know historically to the Jewish people as David’s mighty men. These are the three of the thirty chief men referred to even though two of them are only listed in the passage we are expounding in this study. They went to visit David in the cave of Adullam where he was staying. The reason why he was in the cave and not in Jerusalem is unclear, but it is safe to assume that he was planning an attack on the Philistines who were occupying his hometown to retake it from them.
The devotion of these mighty men of David is truly revealed through this act to fulfill the smallest of longings of their king. David was thinking and possibly speaking to himself of how he would just really appreciate a drink of water from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate. Simply overhearing a passing comment from David was enough to set these three men into action.
What is it that motivates people? The majority of the time it is selfish reasons for even those nice things we do for others and the often unspoken thought of having the other person return the favor someday. There are only a few people that have the ability to gain the love and respect of others who will do things for someone else for no other reason than it will benefit and please the person who is in need. This is done by unselfishly loving others by doing things for them. Cleaning the table of trash and dirty plates, mowing the neighbors grass when you see they have not had the chance to get it done, and offering to help others as they need assistance are a few simple ways to model the attitude of these mighty men.
The motivation to do these things without them being a burden and causing complaints to be harbored in the hearts of those reaching out has to be a desire to be a witness to the presence and power of God in their life. All other motivations will eventually make the person bitter towards others who knew the situation but ignored it or simply were not paying attention to see the need. It is like the Samaritan who did first aid on the injured man along the road to Jerusalem and then put him up in a hotel and provided for the wounded man’s needs (Luke 10:30-37). There was no expectation of being paid back by the wounded man. He simply showed mercy on the wounded man which Jesus encourages those who follow Him to do the same.
What does it take for people who claim Christ as their Savior and Lord to seek to please Him even in the smallest of ways? This is a good question since many in the church in developed countries see the attendance at a worship service when it is convenient in their busy schedules as doing God a huge favor that should at least get a thank you from heaven. This attitude is completely arrogant and unbecoming of a child of God. Christ died to save people from the horrible devastation of sin. His sacrifice has given those who do the will of the Father eternal life, and poured out His Spirit to dwell in the hearts of people for things much bigger than simply to be comfortable.
The feats of bravery and display of loyalty should be seen by the world in the lives of every child of God. They should also be appreciated by those who receive the benefits of those deeds by praising the Lord who gave those people the ability and longing to accomplish them since it was for God that it was done. David poured out the water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem these men risked their lives to acquire as an offering to the Lord. This was an act of worship and faithful loyalty showed to those who followed David so loyally.
The greatest testimonies to the power of God to change lives and His presence that resides in the heart is when people are worshiping the Lord through service and praising the Lord for the ways they have been served. Whether it is merely opening a door for someone else or volunteering large amounts of time and energy to assist a family in crisis the motivation is to touch others with the love of God which reveals His character through simple acts of service. These acts are the beginning rather than the goal since people need to know the reason why God placed them in the life of the one in need.
God desires to encounter people personally each day through the lives of those who are in Christ. The mighty acts of God’s people within the Church is not military feats, but invasion of enemy territory where sin has enslaved people causing them to experience hopelessness and defeat. God places His people in difficult situations where they are uncomfortable to be able to encounter the lives of others who He has ordained them to meet to share His love and the Gospel with through action and words.
The mighty men and women of God are more than the missionaries who have given up family, friends, and their culture to speak truth and show love to those who are trapped in their sin. The heroes of faith today are those who are setting themselves and their desires aside and choosing to serve God wholeheartedly, without reservation or expectation. They are the ones who are doing the will of God the Father by imitating the same attitude as that of Christ (Philippians 2:5-8). They praise God for the peace and strength they receive through His Word and communion in prayer. They praise God for the encouragement and accountability they receive from their brothers and sisters in Christ. They long to spend time with the Lord privately and view the gathering together of the body of Christ for worship one of the highlights of the week. They long to read and study God’s Word with others so they can share all they have learned with those who have never heard the truth or those who are in need of healing. These are the mighty men and women of Christ who rarely receive nor do they desire to be recognized by other people for their service to God, but long to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:21, NKJV).
God has given all those who accept Him the ability and opportunity to become great witnesses to His power and presence. Are you ready to be a witness to God that is like a beacon to those who are hopeless and dying?