“And his hand clave unto the sword” (2 Samuel 23:10)
The extraordinary works of God are usually accomplished by ordinary people. 2 Sam 23.8-39 is a list of one such group, known as David’s “mighty men.” Considering their background, these thirty-seven people seem unlikely heroes, yet, God delights in choosing and using men like this! “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 1.26-31).
From the account of David’s “mighty men” in 2 Sam 23, we find several principles that can help us accomplish more for the Lord. In 2 Samuel 23:9-10 we read of Eleazar; “And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David, when they defied the Philistines that were there gathered together to battle, and the men of Israel were gone away: He arose, and smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword: and the LORD wrought a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to spoil.” Let us look at three aspects of Eleazar’s life that we do well to emulate.
Eleazar was a descendant of Ahoah, of the tribe of Benjamin. It seems as if several of his relatives were soldiers in David’s army and were known for their courage. While the army retreated from the mighty Philistine army, David, Eleazar, and a few others, held their ground. Notice that they “defied” the Philistines. This is exactly what David did when he faced Goliath when he was younger (see 1 Sam 17.22-26, 41-47).
If we want to be used of God then we need courage to defy the enemy, that is, the world, the flesh, and the devil. “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16.13). If we are to “Fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12) then we must have a firm grip on “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).
Eleazar arose and attacked the Philistine army. He rose up and went on the offensive! “It takes more courage to say “I’ll try” rather than “I give up.” It takes individual initiative to succeed spiritually. Those who follow the crowd usually accomplish very little! We know that the majority is so often wrong, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat” (Matthew 7:13).
Prayer, Bible study, worship, and witnessing cannot be put off until we have a bigger group to support us. For revival to come about it takes men and women willing to step out in faith rather than waiting for someone else to take the battle to the enemy.
Eleazar just would not give up. One preacher said, “The measure of a man is what it takes to make him quit.” He could have quit the battlefield since the odds were against him – but he didn’t! To the outward appearance the situation was hopeless, especially in light of the superior might of the Philistines. He could have quit because of fear, like the many that had run away from the battle. He could have quit out of sheer exhaustion. His hand froze on his sword! Instead, Eleazar just kept fighting until “the LORD brought about a great victory.” When we do all we can, God will insure the victory! Eleazar knew that even one man of faith can put all the enemy to flight if the Lord is with him, “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens” (Hebrews 11:33-34).
Courage and initiative can get us into the battle, but it takes endurance to stand our ground in Christ! “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6.9) … “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15.58). As Eleazar gripped his sword until the victory came, so we must continue to proclaim the message of salvation to the lost. “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand” (Psalm 149:6) … “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Hebrew 4:12-13).
Ministry is hard work! The apostle Paul wrote of his own ministry in these terms, “Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily” (Colossians 1.29). In Revelation 2:3 Jesus commended the Ephesian church for its steadfastness in labour, “And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted”.
Which group would we have rather been in? The tiny group which included Eleazar, or the large crowd than ran when the going got tough? With God-given courage, initiative, and endurance, we can indeed be “ordinary heroes” for God who accomplish extraordinary things for Him. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).