Summary: What character of the Bible best describes you? Do you start out well only to finish poorly and offer God every excuse you can think of?
Barzillai – 27th April 2008 am
Background – David running from Absalom
The Holy Spirit says something of Barzillai that He says of very few people. He says that he was “a very great man.” The Bible does not hand out this kind of praise openhandedly. It marks Barzillai out for special notice.
His name means man of iron or strong, he was what we would call today a highland chief. Alexander Whyte says that he had highland characteristics of loyalty, courtesy, hospitality and a passionate love of the hills and valleys. His holdings were in the fertile territory of Gilead on the far side of Jordan.
John Phillips says that “Barzillai blazes out, for a brief, glorious moment, like a meteor in a dark night sky, then plunges back into the obscurity from whence he came.”
I. Barzillai’s Testimony – Excellence (2 Samuel 17:26-29)
a. The Way He was Living Was a Testimony
You can just imagine Barzillai observing from a distance the comings and goings of the leaders in Israel. All through the days of Eli, Samuel, Saul and David, he watched and was not impressed with most of what he saw.
He had seen Eli fail not only as a priest but also as a parent. The behaviour of his sons was a scandal. He would regard Samuel with respect but was no doubt frustrated by the fact that even Samuel had failed to rule his own sons. Barzillai would view Samuel’s death as a national calamity.
He would have no time for Saul, a man big in statue but little in soul. I’m sure he would approve of Jonathan, but shake his head at Jonathan’s failure to fight Goliath.
But David! He was a different kind of person; he was a man after God’s own heart. You can just imagine old Barzillai watching all of the shenanigans of Israel’s leadership and then seeing David and thinking, “That’s more like it! That’s my kind of leader!”
He liked David, he liked what he heard about him. He liked David’s goodness, he liked his effective government, he liked his exceptional grace. He felt a pull towards David even though, as far as we know, Barzillai had never met David face to face.
It sounds a lot like us in regards to the Lord. We have never seen Him face to face, but we feel that pull towards Him. The words of Jesus to Thomas apply to us, Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed (John 20:29)
In David’s hour of need Barzillai nailed his colours to David’s mast. Public opinion had been cleverly shifted to Absalom as the result of some clever propaganda by Ahithophel. David had been rejected by the nation of Israel.
There was no hesitation from Barzillai’s point of view, he marched straight to Mahanaim and declared himself for the Lord’s anointed. It was a courageous thing to do, you see he was not a fair weather supporter of David. He wasn’t there to support him when it was the popular thing to do.
Sounds familiar doesn’t it? You see it is not the popular thing to support the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not the popular opinion that He is God, that He is the Way. Have we become fair weather supporters? Luke 6:22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you [from their company], and shall reproach [you], and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.
At this time David was rejected of men. He was the wrong man on the throne. But Barzillai must have seen God’s hand upon David, he knew that David was God’s anointed and figured that as Israel’s king he would be coming back.
Jesus Christ is God’s anointed and He has been rejected today but the thing is, He’s coming back…
Barzillai kept his eyes upon David, and had his heart commited to David’s cause and kingdom……….
b. The Way He was Giving Was a Testimony
Nobody had to beg him to give, he gave freely out of love for his lord. If someone has to beg and plead with us to give, then the Lord does not want it. God never puts pressure on people to give. You see He does not need our money.
Pastor you’re crazy, you’re telling people not to give???? No, God does not need our money, but He graciously gives us opportunities to support His work, for our benefit, not His. Omnipotence has servants everywhere. He who commanded the ravens to feed Elijah does not need our help, but graciously accepts it and rewards us for it.
The way in which the Holy Spirit Records Barzillai’s giving is really interesting, look at the word and. We are shown each individual item and therefore our attention is drawn to each gift given, even the beans and the lentils are recorded. It is the Holy Spirit’s way of showing us that nothing we give to the Lord is overlooked in Heaven, the value or size of the item is not important but the motive and way that its is given to the Lord… 2 Corinthians 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, [so let him give]; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.