In my Bible study this week, I came across a passage in Chronicles that was something I had already read earlier in the year. I read it because of the book by Mark Batterson who told the story of Benaiah in his book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. (Loved this book by the way, but that’s not the topic at hand!) I am doing a chronological read through of the Bible this year and so my two assignments were 2 Samuel 5:1-10 and I Chronicles 11:1-12:40. I struggle with certain books of the Bible I’ll just be honest. Sometimes they are just long lists of names..generations of people who did good things, but on the page - it’s still a long list of hard to pronounce names. I love reading the books of the Bible that are rich with promises, or give me deep significant Spiritual truths for how to live my life, how to think, how to behave etc. In general, Chronicles just doesn’t usually seem to help me in this regard. Reading early in the morning has it’s benefits - it’s quiet, and it’s just me and my coffee and the sunrise…but this is challenging too if I’m really tired. Some mornings I really have to work to keep my eyes open. Yesterday was like that for me and I struggled.
As I have been working over the last three weeks on the “fear nots” of the Bible, I find myself looking for them everywhere and I had some serious doubts about finding them in yesterdays study. But God had nuggets for me yesterday, and I have marinated in them for more than 24 hours now. It started in verse 9 of I Chronicles 11, which by the way is almost exactly a word for word repeat of 2 Sam. 5:10. 2 Sam says “And David became greater and greater, for the LORD, the God of hosts, was with him.”
I Chronicles is slightly different it reads “And David became greater and greater for the LORD of hosts was with him.”
The context for this verse is that David has just finished the long season of running for his life. His very survival, his very life, depended on living in caves, and being in hiding and even living with his enemy, the Philistines, for a time. But after Saul’s death, God’s promise that he (David) would be king was finally coming to pass and David was anointed as King by the elders of Israel. Immediately, he took over Jerusalem from the Jebusites, and He lived there in Jerusalem. The next verses detail how Joab was his chief right hand man, and that he repaired the rest of the city, and “David became greater and greater for the LORD of hosts was with him.”
My first take away was that while we may never understand God’s timing, we can always trust His promises. And second, if God is with us in any task we are undertaking, for His honor and His glory, He alone will make us greater so that we can fulfill His purposes in us.
But I’m not done yet, because that’s not the end of the verses, and I was done reading yet. (Plus I’m a preacher’s kid, I can’t be done yet right?)
The next few verses are labeled “David’s Mighty Men” - here we read of these men of valor who let nothing intimidate them or sway them from their course. They were courageous and full of integrity - the most trusted of David’s men. Their stories are amazing - they read more like fiction - Abishai fighting alone killed 300 men. Benaiah killing a lion with his bare hands, then killing an Egyptian man over 7 ft tall holding a spear while having no weapon of his own and more. I mean these guys threw caution to the wind because they believed in David, in God's hand of blessing on David, and in defending him and his kingdom.
Some great friends to have around you think?
The list is long - the rest of the verses to follow are filled with names of mighty men. I stopped though when my eyes hit a familiar name in the list. vs. 41 - Uriah the Hittite. If you have studied Scripture for awhile you’ve heard the stories of David - a man after God’s own heart, but he definitely had his faults and this one that involved Uriah’s wife was a big one. I knew Uriah was a soldier in the army, but here he is listed as one of David’s Mighty Men. Here Uriah was listed along with other these other names of David's Mighty Men. It was important to God for us to know each of their names, and then in the verses to follow the tribes they each came from and how many there were. Some are listed as being able to shoot stones from a sling with either hand, or were experienced warriors, experts with shield and spear. The Gadites themselves were officers of the army it says in vs 14 of chapter 12 - “the least was a match for a hundred men and the greatest for a thousand” One man could battle a thousand? crazy odds in my mind to even think about! These men crossed the Jordan when it was overflowing its banks - another astonishing feat - and battled all enemies in the valleys both in the east and west.
So it made me sad to think that Uriah was one of these men that David so trusted and who obviously held David in such high regard - because I know how the story ends. I know that David falls in his sin, and Uriah is murdered because of it.
He already knew this part of the story too, and He continued to bless David because David is part of God’s story and was accomplishing His purpose in David for His glory. I again thought about how many times each of us mess up and we decide that there’s no use for us to continue to try. I can only imagine that David must have felt that God had made a mistake picking him for the job of King, but he continued to follow after God anyway. He confessed and forsook his sins, multiple times, and he faced his consequences. The Psalms are full of his words of repentance and praise for the everlasting love and mercy of our great God. How much more can we pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off, knowing that God sees us through the gift of redemption and Christ’s shed blood over our mess of sin.
I’m still not done though..God had something to tell us about unity in the body! It’s possible for large groups of men to be unified with the singular purpose of following after God and pursuing the job of accomplishing His plans!
vs 38 - "All these men of war arrayed in battle order, (there are literally tens of thousands of them - read it for yourself) came to Hebron with a whole heart to make David king over all Israel. Likewise, all the rest of Israel were of a single mind to make David king."
Thousands of men, warriors, came together with unity of purpose and singleness of heart to make David king. After all the days of hiding, and running David’s time of standing in the spotlight had finally come to pass. And God was in every detail - not just the promise that it would occur, but in the timing and the unity with which he was made King.
How does this passage speak to you? I would really love to hear your thoughts!