Summary: A study of a warrior-priest noted as one of David's mighty men with encouragement for believers to emulate his life.

“Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was a valiant man of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds. He struck down two ariels of Moab. He also went down and struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen. And he struck down an Egyptian, a handsome man. The Egyptian had a spear in his hand, but Benaiah went down to him with a staff and snatched the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and won a name beside the three mighty men. He was renowned among the thirty, but he did not attain to the three. And David set him over his bodyguard.” [1]

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” [2] This was the assessment provided by Henry David Thoreau while in residence at Walden Pond. Thoreau was correct! Who among us hasn’t dreamed of accomplishing some outstanding deed? And, yet, few among us achieve even a modicum of the glory of which we dream. For most of us, unfulfilled dreams are left behind as we stumble into the moment. Consumed with our own pursuits, we seldom know of the brutal battles others have fought or the brilliant victories they have earned. Looking back, we may see a modicum of glory from the days of our lives; but for most of us, the victories we have won are destined to remain ours alone and never to be shared.

The names of those identified as mighty among the warriors of David are men who would be recognised as mighty in any era and under any circumstance. Josheb-basshebeth, a warrior armed only with a spear, stood against eight hundred men! Eight hundred men! It is grave understatement to describe such an exploit is “mighty!” Eleazar the son of Dodo, son of Ahohi, was another of David’s mighty men. This was a man who stood with David, striking down Philistines until his hand was welded to his sword. That is a mighty deed performed by a mighty man! Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite defended a field of beans against the Philistines, striking them down until an entire army turned and fled. These are mighty men.

We haven’t time to list each of the men named in this extraordinary chapter, though each surely is worthy of respect and honour, even in this day far removed from the days in which they served David the King. However, one man will receive our focus today; listed among David’s might men is a priest who became a warrior. This man, Benaiah, will be the focus of our study today. Benaiah is identified as “a doer of great deeds.” I believe any one of us would appreciate being identified as “a doer of great deeds.” Reviewing the deeds of Benaiah will prove instructive and encouraging to each believer. Join me in review of this extraordinary man. Through our study, it may be that God will teach us what is required to become a mighty man.

BENAIAH THE SON OF JEHOIADA — “Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was a valiant man of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds.” Benaiah was the son of a Levitical priest. This becomes evident when we read an account concerning him that is provided in the Chronicles. “The third commander, for the third month, was Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada the chief priest; in his division were 24,000. This is the Benaiah who was a mighty man of the thirty and in command of the thirty” [1 CHRONICLES 27:5, 6].

Surprisingly, Benaiah is mentioned quite often in the Historical Books of the Old Testament. Benaiah was recognised not only for his prowess, but also for his intelligence and his abilities as a leader—he would be required to adapt and overcome in the heat of battle. Benaiah was put in charge of the Cherethites and the Pelethites [see 2 SAMUEL 8:18; 1 CHRONICLES 18:17]. The Cherethites and the Pelethites were foreign mercenaries hired by David; they functioned as special forces for the army. These warriors appear to have been distantly related to the Philistines, though they were not themselves immediately allied with Philistines. They were sea people, perhaps originally from Crete. They likely allied themselves with David during his time among the Philistines during the time he was forced to flee from Saul. [3]

In addition to their function as special forces, these fierce warriors were appointed to serve as the personal bodyguard for the King. The Cherethites and the Pelethites were, if you will, the palace guard—fiercely loyal to David. It was only reasonable that a trusted lieutenant would be charged with their oversight; and Benaiah was the man chosen by the King to lead these mercenaries who figure prominently in the various conflicts David fought. The fact that Benaiah was in charge of these warriors speaks highly of his own abilities as a warrior and the respect of those whom he would lead.

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