Theme: A Few Good Men
Text 2Samuel 23:8—17 “These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains; the same was Adino the Eznite: he lift up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time. 9And 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: 10He 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. 11And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines. 12But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory. 13And three of the thirty chief went down, and came to David in the harvest time unto the cave of Adullam: and the troop of the Philistines pitched in the valley of Rephaim. 14And David was then in an hold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem. 15And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate! 16And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the LORD. 17And he said, Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? Therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mighty men.
One of the most delicate and difficult topics to discuss in Church circles is the topic of church conflict. Writers like Speed Leas (who wrote Moving your Church through Conflict), Ron Susek (that wrote Friestorm) and Friedman (who authored Generation to Generation) have studied church conflicts and discovered that they have a cycle that usually goes through five levels or phases and sometimes matters are never solved and the church is destroyed. Some churches live a state of constant denial about this issue, claiming and hoping that the Holy Spirit’s presence in the church or a good revival will just wash the conflict away. Seldom do we hear sermons on this theme. For the most part writers are silent on this topic opting for the more holy themes. Conflict however is not prejudiced. It does not discriminate select or favor anyone. I understand that most people when asked about the source of conflict would argue that it comes from the devil and it is ultimately so but there are those among us who cooperate with satan like Pharaoh and Nebchadnezzar did. There are those in the midst of us who Paul addressed saying keep the unity of the faith in the bond of peace. There are those who Paul warns in Gal 5:15 “… if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.”(KJV) There are those who James speaks to in James 4:1 “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” KJV
Church conflicts have devastated entire congregations and even crippled and hampered or destroyed denominations. Church meetings have been the scenes of wars and rumors of wars. People have told me of meetings where some people attend with a pistol or a lawyer. Nine out of ten times it is the pastor who is about to become that night’s dinner. People come intent to chew him up and spit him out. Sometimes the battle lines are drawn between two powerful groups and the mine fields of Iraq look a lot safer than the church’s parking lot. Perhaps the worse church war I heard of is a case of a church in Maine where the members were in disagreement over some issue and two groups emerged. When the matter could not be settled one group decided to poison the other group by putting arsenic in the church coffee pot. This is extreme and unusual but there continues unabated a poisoning of minds and a ceaseless assassination of character in the body of Christ. Instead we ought to learn to work together like a team, committed to each other determined to support one another and protect one another for the glory of God for we do not know what God is about to give birth in our brother or sister and He may be using us to help in this process. Here an episode in the life of David is very relevant. In 2 Samuel 23 we are introduced to David’s good men thirty-seven of them in all. Of the 37, six were the most outstanding. The three that occupied fourth, fifth and sixth places, were Abishai, Benaiah and Ashael. One day while David was hiding out from the Philistines in a cave called Adullam. The Philistines were in control of Bethlehem. Now you are aware that David was born and grew up in Bethlehem. One day he was longing for some water from the well in Bethlehem. He said “Oh that someone would give me a drink of water from the well of Bethlehem.” His three Good men, Abishai, Benaniah and Ashael heard him and the three of them decided to give David his wish. So they risked their lives and broke through the Philistines lines just the three of them by themselves and they got the water from the well in Bethlehem and brought it to David. These were great warriors. However these were not the greatest of David’s warriors.
The top three had done greater feats than these. The first one was Adino who used a spear in battle and in one day he killed 800 Philistines. The third man was Shammah. Once when a troop of Philistines was camped in a field of lentiles the Israelites saw them and became very fearful and they ran to their homes. Shammah stood his ground and fought of all the Philistines by himself. That day God gave him a great victory. I left the second greatest warrior for last because I like what is said about him. His name was Eleazar. One day David and Eleazar were in battle and all the people of Israel left them on the battlefield by themselves. These two men defied the army of the Philistines and the Philistines attacked them. They stood their ground and they defeated an entire Philistine regiment. During that battle Eleazar fought with a sword. He killed many Philistines. He became weary but he kept on fighting until the sword he had stuck to his hand and he continued fighting until every Philistine was killed.
Now let us study this man Eleazar, his name means God is my helper. His father’s name was Dodo that name means loving. I believe that Eleazar was a man of faith, a man of prayer and a man of the word.
(1) Eleazar was a man of faith.
Faith says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Faith says my God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Faith says I will not be defeated, if God be for me who can stand against me. Greater is He that is in me than he that is in this world. Faith says in my distress I cried unto the Lord and He heard me and delivered me from all my troubles. Faith says the Lord is my refuge and strength a very present help in the time of trouble though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea, though the waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake. There is a river the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God. Faith says God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved. Faith says God shall help her and that right early. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Faith says yes when the devil says no. Faith says now when the devil says later. Faith says today when the devil says tomorrow. Faith says “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” Faith says I will hold my peace and let the Lord fight my battles. Faith says I will not back up back down back out back in cave in drop out bow out run away or delay, but I will look up stand up measure up buckle up buckle down suit up shape up warm rise up and pick up my weapons.
Eleazar was a man of Prayer
Prayer is going into the secret place of the Most High and abiding under the shadow of the Almighty.
Prayer is dwelling in the presence of the Omnipresent.
Prayer is trusting under the wings of the Omniscient.
Prayer is being covered by the feathers of the Omnipotent.
Prayer is a Daily Chase of the Holy, and a Hot Pursuit of Divinty.
Prayer is the priority that prepares us for our destiny.
Prayer is an opportunity to transcend the earthly, enter the heavenly, exit the temporary and engage eternity.
Prayer is the Secret Source of a believer’s Power.
In prayer we touch the Holy and we become holy.
In prayer we touch the Righteous and we become righteous.
In prayer we strip our selves of ourselves and clothe ourselves with God Himself.
In prayer we empty ourselves of ourselves and fill ourselves with God Himself.
In prayer we unwrap ourselves of ourselves and wrap ourselves with God Himself.
In prayer we disengage the temporal and engage the eternal.
Prayer is the “Little talk with Jesus that makes things right.”
Prayer is making known to God our wants and desires and holding out the hand of faith to take His gifts.
Prayer is the result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Prayer is communion with God.
Prayer is a continual devotion to God.
Prayer is a lifelong experience. Prayer is a moment by moment interaction.
Prayer is a daily surrender. Prayer is an hourly sacrifice.
Prayer is an offering.
Prayer is an incense.
Prayer is a fragrant perfume.
Prayer is a sweet smelling savor.
Prayer is an ointment.
Prayer is a rapturous encounter.
Prayer is a joyous refrain.
Prayer is a sweet fellowship with God.
Prayer is a blissful communion.
More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams off.
Queen Mary (of Scotland) declared, “I fear the prayers of John Knox more than all the armies of Europe.”
Prayer is the mightiest force in the universe.
One praying man or woman shut up with God, can shake satan’s kingdom down.
The person who can really pray has nothing to fear.
William Cowper, the English poet wrote “The devil trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.”
Prayer is the super weapon in our hands in the hour of conflict.
Prayer is a defense in the moment of peril.
Prayer is a retreat in the season of exhaustion.
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous person avails much or does much damage to the devil’s kingdom.
Prayer brings victory.
Prayer warriors do more for the kingdom of God than all the rest of Christians put together.
People who intercede in prayer are as Moses on the mountain, waiting on God.
They fight as Joshua in the valley where the battle is the hottest.
They are as bold as a lion, wise as a serpent, and harmless as a dove.
They are humble, determined, strong, courageous and loving.
They are faithful, surrendered, yielded, obedient and powerful.
Nothing can withstand the mighty breaking-down force of a real prayer warrior.
No weapon formed against him or her shall prosper and all the fortresses of satan will come tumbling down.
The prayer of such a warrior scales the heights and commands satan’s strongholds to fall in the name of Jesus.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God.”(Eph.6: 12-13)
Prayer is vital to our battle.
A prayerless life is a powerless life.
A prayerless life is a careless life.
A prayerless life is a restless life.
A prayerless life is a weak and feeble life.
If Jesus being the Son of God prayed so much, how can we afford to pray less?
God does not want great men as much as He wants men of prayer.
God does not want wise men as much as He wants men of prayer.
God does not want intellectual men as much as He wants men of prayer.
Prayer is of primary importance to every believer.
Jesus never taught His disciples how to preach, but He taught them how to pray, “Pray in this way” He said..,
Prayer is all we need to stop the onslaught of the enemy.
Prayer is what we need to crush the weapons formed against us.
Eleazar was a man of prayer
Pray and enter the realm of the miraculous,
Pray and have and encounter with the Mysterious
Pray and overcome the power of the mischievous.
Pray and beat the unbeatable.
Pray and stopped the unstoppable.
Pray and conquered the unconquerable.
Eleazar was a man of prayer
(3) Eleazar was a man of the word
The word of the Lord endures forever
The word of the Lord is absolutely trustworthy
The word of the Lord is food for the soul
The word of the Lord gives light in darkness
The word of the Lord is loved by the saints
The word of the Lord is a devouring fire
The word of the Lord is a crushing hammer.
The word of the Lord is a life giving force.
The word of the Lord is a life sustaining force
The word of the Lord is a saving power.
The word of the Lord is a defensive weapon
The word of the Lord purifies the life
The word of the Lord gives hope to humanity
THE WORD OF THE LORD WILL STAND
God’s Word has stood the test of Skepticism. A skeptic is one who doubts. The skeptics have come and gone. They have disputed the Virgin birth of Jesus. They have queried the Lord’s death, burial and resurrection. They have presented their arguments against every doctrine and miracle of the Bible, but they have repeatedly collided with truth after truth, that have been proven archaelogically, historically and spiritually. The word of the Lord is like an anvil upon which every hammer of skepticism is broken.
God’s word has stood the test of Atheism.
An atheist is one who does not believe there is a God. This is a very presumptuous claim. According to the American apologist, Ravi Zacharias, “To claim there is no God, is to infer that you have gone to every part of the universe, and looked for God and you did not find Him. It is only then you can therefore conclude that there is no God.”
The story is told of an atheist who was burning Bibles one day. He had said that he would burn every Bible until one day no one will be able to find a Bible and none would continue to believe it. His intent was to burn Bibles until Christianity is no more than a myth. While he stood watching a pile of Bibles being consumed by the flames, the wind blew a page from one of the Bibles, and it landed at his feet. He picked up the charred remains of the leaf and read Luke 21:33: “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.”
God’s word has stood the test of Modernism and Post-Modernity. Modernism and post-modernity have spawned a myriad of societal evils. In the modern period, spirituality was forced out of the public square to give way to science. We lived by science and rationalism. Our heads became disconnected from hearts, and we believed in logic and reason while we failed to believe in God. As a result of these ideas religion was evicted from the public sphere, and the world became truly secularized. The bible was kicked out of school, and we raised a generation of rebels and infidels, people who were spiritually empty and void of morality. So in the post-modern era we have a society groping in the darkness, not knowing where to turn and, therefore, turning to the wrong things. Consequently we are left with the plagues of drug abuse, an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, the blithe of violence, the scourge of teenage pregnancy, the virus of gambling, and a societal resistance to anything godly.
In spite of it all, the word of the Lord still stands. It stands stable and steadfast, strong and secure, glorious and grounded, immovable and immutable, impregnable and invincible, invulnerable, indestructible, unbeatable and unconquerable. The word of the Lord still stands. It stands relentless and measureless, reliable and irrefutable, ready and steady, instant and constant, valiant and gallant. The word of the Lord still stands. It stands universal and particular, for all and yet for each. The word of the Lord still stands. It cuts and heals, burns and soothes, penetrates and seals, strengthens and weakens, waters and dries up, lifts up and humbles, tramples down and builds up. The word of the Lord creates and destroys. It opens up and closes up. It reduces and increases. It makes kings and breaks kings; it makes saints and breaks saints. The word of the Lord stands, it has stood the test of skepticism. It has stood the test of atheism. It has stood the test of modernism and post-modernism. The word of the Lord stood the test of time. It was true and sure 2000 years ago. It is still true and sure now and will be true and sure one million years from now. After stars and suns have shone their last rays. After moons have reflected their last silvery beams. After Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and earth have had their last quakes, thunder storms, tornadoes, typhoons, and hurricanes, after every planet in the Milkyway has executed its last orbit, the word of the Lord will still be standing. If there was a nuclear war on earth and the entire planet was destroyed, I guarantee you the one thing that will be left standing will be the word of the Lord.
When I compare the word of the Lord to other writings considered to be sacred or equal, I find the word of God to be the premiere document. For example, the mythical meandering of polytheistic Egyptian, Greecian and Roman religious thought highlight a pantheon of gods and goddesses. These so called deities that are feared and sought after by humans for myriad of handouts, have failed to meet the urgent needs for love and care that humanity so desperately desire. Accordingly, writings of those beliefs fail to reveal the true and the living God, but the word of the Lord does.
The Hindu Vedas and Brahmans that boast of their antiquity, which is supposed to lend credence to their authenticity, teach that God exists in everything. This is called pantheism and it requires its devotees to worship every possible object or creature. These philosophical and religious writings attempt to be all-inclusive, apparently hoping that by including everything the true God will be found. However, He who nestles in the realms of splendor clothed in His own glorious beauty and light is not discovered in the Vedas or Brahmans. These writings fail to reveal the true and living God, but the word of the Lord does.
The Koran with its reputation for monotheism that flowed from the pen of Mohammed, has been compared to the Bible. Some of the Old Testament narratives in obscured form appear in this book. Its mention of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob correctly identifies the true and living God, but this book fails to recognize the way to the God of creation as being through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Its philosophies fall prostrate at the feet of the word of the Lord as they lack the answer to humanity’s greatest need and deepest quest. But that answer is found in the word of the Lord.
If I should scan the writings of the great thinkers of the world past and present the word of the Lord still comes out on top.
William Shakespeare’s works demonstrate his ability to create a plot, and produce a gripping drama with instructive consequences. When all of Shakespeare’s didactic dramas are compared to the Bible, together they do not constitute even one line from a sacred scene in the drama of life so creatively written by the Master Playwright who inhabits all of eternity.
Emily Dickinson’s close association and apparent romance with morbidity, as evidenced by her death centered poetry, speaks only in conjecture or speculation without having faced death, herself. However in the Bible, David the Psalmist gained prophetic insights and described the death of Christ with all its attending horrors. David explained in detail what took place in the Messiah’s heart as He died for us all. I believe Jesus died the death of every human that ever lived and will ever live. He felt the pain of death that drowning child felt. He felt the sudden pain of the person killed in a car accident by a drunken driver. He felt the agony of the death that a cancer victim, an AIDS victim and the person who went into cardiac arrest experienced and died. Plato describes democracy, but the Bible explains theocracy when “the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ and He will reign forever and ever” according to Revelation 11:15.
While Aristotle muses with the idea of “the ultimate cause” in His teleological philosophies, the Bible in its first sentence declares, “In the beginning God….” (Genesis 1:1).
While Charles Darwin speculates about the origin of the species, the Bible says there was not anything made that He did not make.” (John 1:3)
While Socrates argued that men do not go wrong voluntarily and ignored the role of the human will in the processes of human actions, the Bible says in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Oh yes, you can read Voltaire, Rousseau, Hobbes, Locke, Derrida, Foucault, Des Cartes, Marx, Confuscius, Sophicles, Neitche and the entire host of writers who attempt to find the meaning for life, but none will match the word of the Lord. None will give you wisdom like the Proverbs; not one of them can soothe your heart like the Psalms; not one will convict and transform you like the gospels. Not one will educate you like the epistles, and none can inform you like Daniel and Revelation.
History, philosophy, sociology, anthropology mathematics physics etc. all submit to the word of the Lord and prove to be insufficient to answer humanity’s questions. But the word of the Lord does.
The word of the Lord has been put to the test and has proven to be reliable (2 Samuel 22:31). The word of the Lord is a thousand generations (1 Chronicles 16:15). The word of the Lord is for a memorial (Exodus 3:19). There is power in the word of the Lord (Luke 4:32).
The word must be in our mouths (Deuteronomy 30:14). The word must be in our heart and soul (Deuteronomy 6:6, 11:18). The word must be taught to our children (Deuteronomy.6:7). We must live by the word (Deuteronomy. 8:3). We must meditate in the word (Joshua 1:8). Like David we must rejoice when we hear the word (Psalms 119:162). Like Ezekiel we must use the word to warn the world (Ezekiel 3:17). Like the Israelites, the word of the Lord should be on our hands, between our eyes, in our houses and on our gates (Deuteronomy 6:8,9).
Eleazar was a man of the word
So when he was attacked he stood up with his teammate and defeated the Philistines.