I hope your weekend is going well. Sundays are my favorite day and I hope your Sunday, so far, has been uplifting and an opportunity to re-center and re-focus your heart, mind, attitude, and spirit. Today’s reading contains a little more genealogy, but also begins the narrative part of the book with the story of the demise of Saul and the rise of David. Now the essence of this story has already been covered, so I’ll forego reiterate, but part of this narrative includes little snippets about the heroes of David’s army — which is new stuff.
Now, we could look at the individual heroes of David’s kingdom and their amazing military accomplishments, but I’d like to take us down a more holistic path and look at what makes up heroes — with the hopefully obvious application that we all be heroes of Christ’s New Testament kingdom. Not that we would ever be seeking medals or special recognition; heroes are seldom doing what they do for the lime-light. They do what they do, because they have great love of their country, a deep love for the people they heroically serve, and/or felt a deep sense of duty to do what was right.
It takes courage — Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the will to do what must be done in spite of the fear. Soldiers become foolhardy and are usually killed in action without any fear at all. We shouldn’t be ashamed of fear of fearful things; it’s natural and useful. But too often we take the counsel of our fears (to semi-quote Andrew Jackson), and we become over-cautious and go into retreat from the things that we’ve been called into battle to deal with. These mighty men of David’s were men of courage and became heroes. As Christians we are called to courage in spite of our fears — courage to speak up, courage to stand up, courage step up and step out on faith.
It takes faith in the LORD — Speaking of faith, heroes of David’s mighty men also knew that the LORD was on their side. Now, let’s be honest, everyone wants to think that God is on their side, but whose side is God always going to be on? David’s men knew that they LORD was going to be on their side because they were doing the LORD’s will, they were being obedient (in contrast to Saul’s army). The LORD will never send His people into battle and fail to support them in their obedience — then or now. To be heroes of Jesus’ kingdom let us be willing to step out obediently in faith wherever that might lead, knowing that they LORD will never let us down in doing what He has commanded we should do.
It takes loyalty to the king — The story of the three mighty men who risked their lives to bring David a cup of water from the well of Bethlehem bespeaks of a deep loyalty to their king. They loved David and nothing was too much for their anointed king. Such loyalty keeps heroes in the battle, when everyone else in their right mind should be running. Loyalty compels extraordinary bravery and extraordinary deeds. It was such loyalty that caused the men of Jabesh-gilead to risk their lives to retrieve the body of Saul from the walls of Beth-Shean, so that they could bury his body with dignity. Christian heroism in Jesus’ kingdom also includes fierce loyalty to the one who bled and died on our account to take away our sins. What has your loyalty brought you to do?
It takes strength — The things that must be done, must be borne, must be endured will often take great strength and heroes are known for strength and endurance. Physical, military heroes train and challenge themselves. So also with spiritual heroes. The read the Scriptures to know the sword well, They practice self-control and endurance even in small or trivial matters, so that they can exercise it well in matters of greater significance. They grunt and strain and work hard at being “the last man standing”.
It takes doing the unpleasant — Warfare is not pleasant; in fact it is often described as Hell. David’s heroes doubtlessly had more than a little blood and guts on their sword and clothing at the end of a campaign. Sleeping in a battle camp isn’t like sleeping at home with momma. And Christian heroism is earned by stepping up to do the unpleasant — washing feet, serving the undeserving, forgiving the sinner, loving the unlovely, turning the other cheek, standing with the LORD rather than a friend, foregoing popularity, swimming upstream, and telling ourselves “No” when we’d really like to say “Yes”.
The Kingdom still needs its heroes, its mighty men (and women); will you be one in your home, at your work, in your school, in your neighborhood, in your congregation? Be a hero, because you have great love for Jesus and His kingdom, a deep love for the church and community you heroically serve, and feel a deep sense of duty to do what is right.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.