In The Pit
Benaiah son of Jeholada was a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, who preformed great exploits He struck down two of Moab’s best men. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion, and he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear.
2 Samuel 23:20-21,NIV
Tucked neatly away in these verses is the story of three difficult events facing one man-Benaiah. He knew how to turn these three big problems into three major platforms that elevated him to a place of prominence in Israel’s history. Scripture records how Benaiah at different times faced two warriors from the land of Moab who were known for their fierce fighting skills, a lion in a pit on a snowy day,and a well-armed Egyptian warrior who was seven and a half feet tall.
We might question why Benaiah would be bold enough to chase down a five-hundred pound lion that could run twenty-five miles per hour down into a pit during snowy conditions. The answer is simple: He had prepared all throughout his life for situations like this. He took full advantage of what others were running from and saw this as an opportunity for him to run ahead full speed. Because of Benaiah’s daring and courage, King David put in charge of his bodyguard; under King Solomon, he became the commander-in-chief of the armies of Israel. Three thousand years later, we still marvel at the courage, risk taking, and faith of this diligent warrior
When we enter the last days of our lives, we will look fondly upon the days when our faith was stronger than our fears and when our accomplishments exceeded our greatest aspirations. The times when we defeated our warriors, chased our Lions, and faced our giants will provide us with our riches memories.
Today, seize your opportunities and keep in mind that your greatest blessings may be masquerading as the biggest obstacle in your path.
Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The exploits of Benaiah weren’t just things he did because he wanted to test his prowess or because he was bored. Although scriptures don’t tell us explicitly the reasons for these responses, we can surmise the reasons from his environment. His engagement with the Moabites was due to threat they presented to his people. If you remember, they were the ones who persuaded the Israelites to abandon God and to worship Baal in the wilderness. They were a constant thorn in Israel’s flesh. Over and over again they came against Israel to conquer them. You will remember that they had oppressed Israel in Gideon’s day. Benaiah didn’t just pick a fight with them for no reason. One might say that in this case he was a defender of the faith. While we may not pick up a literal sword,and do battle with physical warriors, we are, nonetheless engaged in battle against the devil and his army of demonic powers. The apostle Paul reminds us of this in Ephesians 6: 12-13:
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places. Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious].”
The second exploit of chasing a lion on a snowy day into the pit, again, wasn’t an act of bravado but one of necessity. Israel was an agricultural nation and raising sheep was a primary source of food and clothing. Lions were a threat to the livelihood and well-being of the people. Furthermore, lions were also known to leave the thickets surrounding the Jordan River in times of flooding and to attack people, especially the vulnerable, the children, and the elderly. Scripture describes the devil as such:
“Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour. But resist him, be firm in your faith [against his attack—rooted, established, immovable], knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being experienced by your brothers and sisters throughout the world. [You do not suffer alone.] “
1 Peter 5:8,9
Those words were written by a man who had experienced the power of the devil and had lost a battle against him. Remember it was Peter who had succumbed to fear and doubt- two of the devil’s best weapons- and had denied Jesus.
The third exploit- the one against the seven-foot Egyptian was the battle against the people who had enslaved the Israelites for over four hundred years. Only through the deliverance of God as He worked through Moses were they finally liberated. Yet the threat of slavery lingered over the heads of the Israelites. Again the scriptures likens our bondage to sin as the bondage of slaves under a harsh taskmaster and there is a constant battle against the enslaving power of the old sin-nature.
“ Do you not know that when you continually offer yourselves to someone to do his will, you are the slaves of the one whom you obey, either [slaves] of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness (right standing with God)? But thank God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient with all your heart to the standard of teaching in which you were instructed and to which you were committed. And having been set free from sin, you have become the slaves of righteousness [of conformity to God’s will and purpose]. I am speaking in [familiar] human terms because of your natural limitations [your spiritual immaturity]. For just as you presented your bodily members as slaves to impurity and to [moral] lawlessness, leading to further lawlessness, so now offer your members [your abilities, your talents] as slaves to righteousness, leading to sanctification [that is, being set apart for God’s purpose]. When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness [you had no desire to conform to God’s will]. So what benefit did you get at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? [None!] For the outcome of those things is death! But now since you have been set free from sin and have become [willing] slaves to God, you have your benefit, resulting in sanctification [being made holy and set apart for God’s purpose], and the outcome [of this] is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God [that is, His remarkable, overwhelming gift of grace to believers] is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 6: 16-23
Every Christian is engaged in spiritual warfare from the moment they become a child of God. Many of them are always on the defensive, struggling to just hold on and survive. Like the Israelites engaged with the Philistines, they entrench themselves and every time Goliath roars his challenge, they shrink in their trenches. The church has far too long engaged in defensive warfare. It is past time for the church and the people of God to clothe themselves in the armor of God and rise up against the powers of darkness that have invaded our world and even our churches. As David listened to Goliath’s challenge, it ate at his soul. Seeing the people of God being frightened and oppressed moved him to ask, “Is there not a cause?” We as God’s people, must see the devastation that the devil is working in the lives of our families, our children, and our communities and ask ourselves whether or not we have cause to confront the giants of fear, doubt, sin, and worldliness that are wreaking havoc not only in the world but among the people of God as well.
There is a call for champions of faith to rise up and take up the cause. This is not a call to rise up against other humans or to choose some political party or take membership in some social group. It isn’t a call to march in the streets holding signs or to picket some business or any of the other forms of expression we might engage in. It’s a call for spiritual warriors whose weapons are prayer, the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.
“The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. For though we walk in the flesh [as mortal men], we are not carrying on our [spiritual] warfare according to the flesh and using the weapons of man. We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ, being ready to punish every act of disobedience, when your own obedience [as a church] is complete.”
2 Corinthians 10:2-6
Every challenge we face today is nothing more than an opportunity for us to see the power of God at work. Two Moabite warriors, or a lion or a seven-foot Egyptian might be frightening at first glance and we might be tempted to run away. But if we will set them alongside our God, we will discover that “greater is He that is within us than he that is in the world. Our story today says that Benaiah “struck down” the two Moabites, “pursued the lion”, and “seized the Egyptian’s spear” and used it against him. Christ Jesus has overcome the devil and broken the power of sin and made us more than conquerors. So godly warrior climb up out of that trench of fear and doubt and run to meet your giant in the name of the Lord of Hosts- Christ Jesus. Win the battle not only for yourself but for every vulnerable person, every child, and every generation until we are all liberated from Moabites, lions, and Egyptians.
Dr. John Thompson