Summary: Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. The
IN A PIT WITH A LION
THEME: GOD ENABLES US TO CHASE OUR DREAMS.
TEXT: 2 SAMUEL 23:20-21
Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. These are the famous words of Theodore Roosevelt.
Benaiah was a man who lived by Roosevelt’s model. You might not know who he is. But he is mentioned in the Bible in a dynamic way. In fact two verses tell us of his deeds. 2 Samuel 23:20-21 “Then Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, who had done mighty deeds, killed the two sons of Ariel of Moab. He also went down and killed a lion in the middle of a pit on a snowy day. And he killed an Egyptian, an impressive man. Now the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, but he went down to him with a club and snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand, and killed him with his own spear.”
This verse is easily passed over in the yearly reading of the Bible. The verse can be overlooked in the safe confines of home, the office, and in the church building. But this verse is packed with power. Can you imagine a man chasing a lion into a pit? When lions are around humans run because lions can kill humans. Lions are dangerous animals. Even tamed lions are dangerous and un-predictable. A few years ago the famous lion show in Las Vegas had an attack. The Siegfried and Roy show was taking place when a lion un-expectantly attacked Roy Horn. These performers showcased this performance hundreds of times. But on this night the lion attack Roy and serious injured him. These were tamed and trained lions. Imagine running into a pit with a wild lion?
The text does not indicate if Benaiah had a weapon or not. But we know he did not carry a hunting rifle with him. He was not walking into a hunting safari. He charged after this lion into a pit to do battle. The situation was even worst to running to fight a lion. The text indicates that it was a snowy pit. Personally, I know about the effects of snow on traction. A lion has claws that will stick into the ground. A man simply has two feet that will slide around. There seems to be all the odds stacked against Benaiah. We do not know what exactly what happened in the pit. We do not know about the claws to the face. We do not read about the teeth to the legs and arms. We do not read about the blood spilling from the wounds. But we do not the unlikely outcome. The text informs us that Benaiah walks out of the snowy pit with lucky lion’s foot around his neck. Benaiah was victorious.
On that day, Benaiah was not the odds on favorite. If Vegas were giving the spread, Benaiah would have been the underdog. More likely, no one would have even given him a chance. There was no way that one man could defeat a wild beast. But Benaiah was a lion chaser. David was a giant slayer. Abraham was an old man. The twelve Apostles were simply men. Everyone needs to remember that odds are not applicable to God. In fact Paul reminds us of this. Roman 8:31 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? Also in Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” The odds are not important for God’s people. That which seems impossible is possible with God.
Personally, I my own life I have seen God overcome the odds through me. When I left home to attend Brown Trail School of Preaching, I was not even a Christian for one year. I was going into a difficult and intensive program that would demand that I write and read constantly. The problem was that I only read two books in my whole life and I was not able to even write a complete sentence. I was leaving everything that I knew behind me. It would have been different if I was a top student or had some natural ability. But I was simply a dummy with a dream. The odds were that I could not handle the work load or the type of work. Remember just the year before I applied to a school and they wrote back that I had no chance of completely the program. They did not directly say this but they let me know that they laughed when I thought I had a chance of going to school there. The odds were that I was too slow, too lazy, would become too homesick to finish the program. In fact, after a few years when I was in Heritage Christian University I was visiting Brian Garnett who encouraged me to attend Brown Trail. He confessed that he did not believe I had it in me to finish Brown Trail. The odds were that I would head home a failure. But God can overcome the odds if we let him.