A Friend Not to Have (or be)

2 Samuel 13:1-5 And it came to pass after this, that Absalom the son of David had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her. And Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin; and Amnon thought it hard for him to do any thing to her. But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David’s brother: and Jonadab was a very subtil man. And he said unto him, Why art thou, being the king’s son, lean from day to day? wilt thou not tell me? And Amnon said unto him, I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister. And Jonadab said unto him, Lay thee down on thy bed, and make thyself sick: and when thy father cometh to see thee, say unto him, I pray thee, let my sister Tamar come, and give me meat, and dress the meat in my sight, that I may see it, and eat it at her hand.

One of the most important decisions we will make in life is that of who our friends are. Someone said, “you will be the same person you are today except for the books you read and the friends you have.” Further, the friends we allow our children to have will shape who they become- for good or for bad. Here we see a young man, Amnon, who had a bright future. He was the king’s eldest son. He was well-known in the kingdom. He had much potential.

Amnon had a certain affection that was causing inner turmoil. Instead of channeling it properly or seeking counsel, he shared his affection with a friend, who happened to be a cousin. Side note- but just because someone is family, doesn’t mean they are good for us or our children as close friends. Amnon’s friend influenced him to make a decision that caused ripple affects in his family, and in the entire kingdom. I see three negative attributes of this friend.

1. His friend was subtle. According to Webster’s dictionary, subtle means “smooth, and deceptive.” A sure mark of a friend we ought not to have is one who is subtle and deceitful. If our friend is subtle with us and for us, they will be to us. Further, I will become what I am around.

2. His friend was entitled. Jonadab’s basis for his plan was, “You’re the king’s son. You deserve to be happy. You deserve not to be lean from day to day. You deserve what you want.” One reason our society is a mess is because of an entitled mentality. Truth is, we don’t “deserve” anything. What we have and what we are are by God’s grace. If we begin to hang around with “entitled” people, we will begin to feel entitled. Entitled people lack humility. Entitled people lack gratitude. Entitled people live in the past. Entitled people don’t reach their potential.

3. His friend was not under authority. What was Jonadab’s plan? “We know the king will come around. Let’s do this under his nose and behind his back.” And that’s what Amnon did. We know from Tamar’s comments that Amnon could have gotten the king’s blessing, and had much different results. We’re in dangerous territory when our friends are people who are not under authority. It will rub off on us.

Amnon’s friend was deceitful. Amnon’s friend had an entitled mentality. Amnon’s friend was not a man under authority. And each point rubbed off on him. When choosing our friends, let’s evaluate their “true stripes”. Let’s stay away from the influence of friends with these characteristics.

Losing Jesus

A few years back we arrived in a city in China of approximately 7 million people. It was late at night, we had traveled long, and we were tired. We were picked up by a shuttle bus at the airport, and taken to our high rise condo in a certain downtown area. I helped organize the trip, so I had all the information, documents, and money for our hotels, tour, and travel as well as my laptop, in my backpack. My wife was with us on that trip, and she, too, carried an identical backpack. As we unloaded from the shuttle, I saw one of the young men with the backpack, and supposed it was mine, so we proceeded to head up toward our room, and the shuttle drove away. It was only when we got up to the room that we realized that we had only one backpack. And it wasn’t mine. It was late at night, and there was nothing we could do about it.  

Have you ever had that helpless, lump in the throat, knot in the stomach, sinking feeling when you realize you lost something valuable? In Luke 2:44-46, Jesus’ parents had this same feeling. They had travelled for an entire day with throngs of people after a feast in Jerusalem when they realized that they were missing something very valuable. They had left their son, Jesus, back in Jerusalem. It took them three days of sorrow and diligent searching to find Him.

Luke 2:43-46 “And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple…”

As I think of this story, I think of how it can relate to us. How often have we supposed the Lord was in our company, when in reality, we lost, or left His presence along the way? As I read this passage, I see a few reasons we might leave the Lord behind and not even know it.

First, we can simply suppose he’s in our company. Our closeness to the Lord isn’t something we can take for granted. It’s not a passive thing. It’s something we must proactively seek each day.

Secondly, we can lose the Lord’s presence when we’re busy. Busyness may be one of the biggest enemies of our having the Lord’s presence, because we get so preoccupied with it that we don’t realize that His presence has gone missing.

Thirdly, we can lose His presence even as we’re doing good things. We were told often that the easiest place to backslide is on staff or in Bible college. Good things can replace God’s presence in our lives if we’re not careful, and it’s easy to think that one is the other, when it’s not.

Another reason we leave the Lord behind is when we’re out of routine. Even if we have more time, when we’re out of routine, like we are now with all going on, we can get away from the Lord’s presence.

So then, how do we get back to closeness with the Lord? First, Jesus parents realized that He was not there. We must do a regular assessment and ask, “how is my closeness to the Lord today”. Where is He? How is He working in my life today? Secondly, they made diligent search. They were not going to stop until they found Him. Thirdly, they retraced their steps. Generally speaking, if we trace our steps backward, we’ll realize where and when we lost the Lord’s presence and His intimate working in our lives. And finally, they found Him.

After calling around, contacting dispatch, tracing that shuttle bus, and by God’s grace, getting in contact with the driver himself, what a relief it was to find my backpack, with all the contents still inside, and have it back in our hands! Likewise, it’s even more refreshing to know that I’ve once again found God’s presence, and that closeness I once knew, and see Him again working personally in my life.

When Anxiety Attacks

Psalm 42:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

Psalm 42:11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

About nine years ago, I suddenly had strong bouts of anxiety. Prior to this time, I was the “suck it up”, “it’s in your head”, “you’re overthinking it,” type. I thought anxiety, depression, and the like were for either weak-minded or selfish people. Until it hit me. It’s amazing how our perspective on things changes when it’s now us.

I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I was fearful. There was uncertainty. I would even leave church in the middle of service “not feeling well” when it would set in. I wondered if I would ever get out of the cycle. I tried breathing techniques. I called a Christian counselor. I did research and read up on remedies for this condition. (PS I’m being more honest than I planned to when I picked up the Scriptures this AM or began writing this post).

Psalm 42:11 helped me greatly. In the verse above, David had been driven from the house of the Lord. He lived in uncertainty. There was much to fear. There was reason for sorrow. And there was no end in sight. David had a conversation with himself that was very helpful. These principles from David’s conversation with his soul that can help when our soul needs calming.

Before we do, I think looking at David’s inner turmoil will help us to relate with what he was going through. I see three areas of inner turmoil, or at least, the temptation to fall into them. I see depression, sorrow, and anxiety.

Cast down (שָׁחַח shâchach, shaw-khakh’) = to sink or depress; bend, bow (down), bring (cast) down, couch, be (bring) low, stoop. David felt depressed. His soul was sunk down. He felt hunched over. As in a pit, in the dust, struggling to get back “on top side”.

Mourning (קָדַר qâdar, kaw-dar’) and Tears (דִּמְעָה dimʻâh, dim-aw’) = weeping, sorrow. One chapter prior, he had been betrayed. He was driven from his family, and from the church. He missed the singing, the fellowship, and the life he had known before.

Disquieted (הָמָה hâmâh, haw-maw’) = made uneasy or restless; disturbed; harassed, to be in great commotion or tumult, be disquieted, troubled, mourn, be moved (like bowels move), make a noise (within, a noise that I cannot hold my peace, – same word in Jer 4:19), rage, roar (like waves Jer 5:22, 6:22, 31:35, 50:42, 51:55), sound, be troubled (like troubled bowels), make in tumult (Acts 31:34), tumultuous. His soul was anxious, almost uncontrollable. His mind, and emotions, were like a tumult of people that cannot be controlled, or uneasy bowels that we can do nothing about, or waves that roll and roar at sailors on a boat, and they are at the mercy of the sea. Those of us who have experienced anxiety know what it’s like to be in that boat, dwarfed by the growing wave, ready to be tossed about, seemingly at its mercy.

So then what did David do? What was his remedy? How can we apply it in our situation?

1. Hope. No matter the situation, let us always remember that with God, there. is. hope. There’s hope in the sorrow. There’s hope in the depression. There’s hope in the midst of the anxiousness. God is a God of hope. When these within us arise, HOPE IN GOD! We can go through the most dire of situations if we hold on to the fact that with God, there is hope, and there are much better days ahead with Him.

2. Praise. In the midst of the worst situations, David made it a habit to praise. This helped me much. I realized that in a crowd of people, or alone in the car, I can turn my mind toward the Lord, and focus on praising Him for Who He is, and what He does. I’ve experienced this firsthand- when I get into praising the Lord, so much of the inner turmoil ceases. The more I focus on praise, the less any inner situation is in view.

3. Claim. David gives us a great promise here. It helped him. And more than any other promise, this one helped me. David tells us that the Lord is the health of our countenance. What is there to claim? What does that mean? Notice what God is to us when these things come.

The health (יְשׁוּעָה yᵉshûwʻâh, yesh-oo’-aw) something saved, i.e. (abstractly) deliverance; hence, aid, victory, prosperity:—deliverance, health, help(-ing), salvation, save, saving (health), welfare. Simply put, health here means salvation, help, and/or deliverance from whatever it is that would cause our countenance to fall, or change, or lose it’s joy, or peace, or steadfastness.

Thus, when sorrow comes as it will, when depression tries to rear its ugly head, or anxiety like those waves attempt to arise, remember, GOD IS the health (salvation) of our countenance. Not, He may be. Not, He will be. HE IS! Right here. Right now. He is here to help me, to save me. This is a fact and a promise from the word of God. Meditate on it. Quote it. Claim it.

When these things attempt to overtake our soul, let’s do the things David did. Realize there’s hope in God. Begin to praise. And claim the promise of the Lord as the health of my countenance right now.

Examine Me

Psalm 26:2 Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.

According to the CDC, 20-40% of the 900,000 premature deaths in the United States could have been prevented. One Dr. wrote: “As a doctor, it is heartbreaking to lose just one patient to a preventable disease or injury – and it is that much more poignant as the director of the nation’s public health agency to know that far more than a hundred thousand deaths each year are preventable,”

In the medical field, more than ever, we are reminded of the benefits of preventative care and screening. And yet yearly, up to 360,000 people die unnecessarily by causes that could have (and should have) been prevented. Why is this the case? Many times, we aren’t willing to take the time for a simple screening, a simple doctor’s visit, or a simple examination that can prevent tragedy.

Every year, there are scores of spiritual casualties for the same reason. I wonder the number of spiritual fatalities that are a result of conditions that could have been rooted out early. But because they went undetected or unaddressed, they led to tragedy.

David wasn’t going to chance it. David was a man after God’s heart for a reason. Time and time again, David prayed what he prayed in the Scripture above: “Examine me.” Many times he prayed, “Search me.” “Try me.” “Know my heart.” “Prove me.” David wanted the Great Physician to do a heart check. He wanted the Lord to check his spiritual head (Ps 139:23). If there was something wrong, he wanted to know, so he could fix it!

Nobody I know likes to visit the doctor’s examination room. But it’s necessary for physical longevity. If we want to experience spiritual longevity, then often, we need to go to the Great Doctor and ask what David asked, “examine me.” As a doctor will be up front and say, “your cholesterol is high”, or “you need to shed a few pounds”, so is the Great Physician.

Let’s open the examination tool of His Word, and meet with Him in the examination room of prayer. Ask, and sure enough, He’ll bring our condition to the light. He may say, “your heart condition isn’t good”, or, “your thought life needs some work”, or, “you need more spiritual exercise.” And when He does, let’s work on it!

Let’s not be casualties of preventable spiritual conditions. Let’s get into His Word. Let’s go to Him in prayer. Let’s live lives of spiritual longevity for our good, the good of our families, and for God’s glory.

Motive for Mercy

Psalm 6:2-5 “Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed… oh save me for thy mercies’ sake. For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?”

I recently read these words: “let’s answer the question of why Esau failed to find repentance for simply selling his birthright even though he sought it desperately with tears. Esau’s repentance was faulty because he did not understand true repentance. He was a profane fornicator (see Hebrews 12:16-17), and he simply wanted to regain the blessings that he had lost (see Genesis 25:33-34). However, when David was confronted with his sin, he repented for the right reason. He wanted to restore fellowship with God. If we repent for any other reason than this we are not experiencing true repentance (See Psalm 51).”

On multiple occasions, men in the Bible prayed words like those in the passage above in their plea for mercy. They reveal an important principle in going to the Lord to seek His mercy: our motives. The Lord is gracious, full of mercy, and ready to forgive. But why are we going to Him? Is it because we were caught? Or afraid we may be? Is it to regain lost blessings, or stop the spiritual bleeding?

We see David’s motives in his prayer here when he said, “have mercy… for (because, this is why I’m asking) in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks.” What was David saying? In essence, “Lord please extend to me your mercy that I might live to thank you, and fellowship with you once again.”

We have all sinned. We will sin. We will be at God’s mercy again. When we come before Him, let us come with the right motives. What were our past motives in pleading for mercy? What will our motives be when we seek it again? Might our motives be to regain lost fellowship with Him, to once again be led by His Spirit, and to know to do His will. That is where we find mercy, grace and blessing once again.

Kindness

2 Samuel 9:1-3 And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan’s sake… And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet.

My father was playing basketball with some men at the church a while back, when a young man went began to curse him out, and then storm off. My dad had many options. He was the pastor. No one should speak to him like that, at “his” church. My dad chose this option: he noticed that this young man could use some new shoes, and bought him some nice, new Nike’s, and set them on the seat of his car. Further, my father learned that this young man’s dad had just passed away, and it must have been a difficult time in his life.

How can we respond with kindness toward those who need it most? How can we love even those that seem unlovable? Not long before this event in David’s life, it seems that he despised the lame and the blind. Further, David was at variance (even war) with the house of Saul. How then did David have desire spring up within him to show kindness to the house of Saul?

David gives us the answer in 2 Samuel 9:3. It was not David’s own kindness that he desired to show, but the kindness of God working through him. The same is true for us. If we’re going to make a difference in the lives of those God has called us to serve, we need to allow God’s kindness to work through us, and show His kindness to them.

How will we love the cursing bus kid with a broken home, or the single mom whose life is a mess, or the broken marriage that seems hopeless, or the teenage punk in the youth group? How can we make a difference in their lives? Most likely, it will not be by following our natural intuition or inclinations. We will make a difference when we endeavor to allow God’s kindness to flow through us, and show it to them.

Two questions to consider: Has God been kind to us, despite us? To whom can we show the kindness of God today?

Who Am I?

2 Samuel 7:18 Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?

Recently I read this story: “One day the president of a successful real estate company stood before his sales staff of about one hundred. After presenting several new properties, he stated, “My success story has been written up in a national business magazine. If you would like a copy, just see my secretary.” A lightning bolt of dismay and tension struck the staff. Angry looks were exchanged, and murmuring began: “Who does he think he is?! We are the ones that made this company successful! It is our success story, not his.” That very afternoon, several of his top salesmen quit and formed their own company. Soon there was not enough money to close contracts, so the president used money from other escrow accounts, which is a federal offense. Within six months, the once-successful company was dissolved, and the president began serving a prison sentence, all because of the lack of one character quality—humility.”

There are not many things more distasteful than pride. There are not many things as refreshing as a humble spirit. Here, David had just become established in his kingdom. His enemies had been subdued. He had taken strong holds that men thought he could not take. Wherever he turned, and whatever he did, he found success. Yet David’s statement at a pinnacle of success was, “who am I?”

I want to be used by the Lord. But I must be usable. I want to experience His grace. But I cannot resist His grace. A common character trait of men who God used greatly was their “who am I” spirit. Moses said “who am I”. Paul said “I am the least”. And here, David said, “who am I?”.

God is looking for people to use today. But God resists the proud. Let’s remember who we are, that it is God’s grace that has brought us where we are, and let’s humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. For it’s then, that he can use and exalt us for His greater purposes in our lives. Today, let us remember this spirit: “who am I?”

Revive (Me) Again

Most Christians would agree with this statement: we need revival. But if I ask, “where do we need revival most?”, there will be a plurality of answers. Many would say, “we need revival in our country!” Others would say, “in our schools!” Some would think, “on Capitol Hill.” Yet others might say, “in our churches.”

Psalm 85 tells us where revival must happen first. The Psalmist says,Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? If revival is to happen, it will not start in our country. It will not in our government, and certainly not in our places of education. The writer understood that a prayer for revival is a personal prayer, and the plea for revival is a personal plea. It isn’t for someone else to be revived. It isn’t for another institution. It isn’t at another location. It’s right here, where I am standing. It’s me, it’s me, it’s me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer for revival.

Do you long to see revival in our country? I do. Do you long to see revival in our community, and in our churches? I do as well. Revival will happen when it begins within you and me, as a child of God. How then, can I begin to see revival in my heart? We find further insight in this chapter. Moses gives us principles for personal revival.

  • The requirement for revival: Ask for mercy. The verse following the Psalmist’s request for revival says, “shew us thy mercy, O Lord”. Has there been a time where my walk was sweeter than it was this morning? Have I allowed sensual thoughts to take up residence in my soul? Do my entertainment choices (like t.v. music, social media, internet) grieve the Holy Spirit? Have I allowed pride to creep in and make me judgmental and condescending? Am I the witness and testimony the Lord wants me to be? Is it something else? If so, I need God’s mercy for personal revival. This kind of repentance- turning toward God’s mercy and away from my sin, always foreshadows revival.
  • The resource for revival: Hear the Word. Verse seven says, “I will hear what God the Lord will speak.” Hearing the Word of God always precedes revival. If we want to see personal revival, we must get back to the book. We must hear it. We must read it. We must meditate on it. And we must be willing to obey when it speaks to us.
  • The result of revival: Righteous living. How will I know that revival has begun? Is it shown in a two-hour alter call at the end of a camp meeting? Is it testimonies of those who have been “revived?” According to this chapter, revival is evidenced in righteous living. Three times in four verses, righteousness, fear of God, peace, holiness is a result. I will know that revival has begun when I begin to live more like Christ- righteously.
  • The reason for revival: The glory of God. Yes, we were created for God’s glory and pleasure, and this is the ultimate purpose for revival. But this chapter shows us that when God’s glory is known, good things happen to us as well! There’s blessing when revival happens. There’s guidance from the Lord when revival happens. God’s goodness is given when revival happens.

Do you want to see revival? I do. Revival must start with “us”. Ask the Lord to search us and reveal where we need His mercy. Get into the Book and allow it to convict our soul, and produce righteous living in us. Then, God’s glory will be evident through us, and it can’t help but make a difference in our realm of influence- our family, our church, our community, our country. Revival is personal. And it starts with me.

Training Mighty Men

1 Chronicles 12:8 And of the Gadites there separated themselves unto David into the hold to the wilderness men of might, and men of war fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains;

This morning’s reading continued with a commentary of David’s mighty men. These were some amazing guys! They made a difference. They were notable. Their stories are forever etched in Scripture for our learning.

This chapter shows the incredible potential of training mighty men within a family. Whereas chapter eleven speaks of the mighties as individuals, here, we see their strengths and qualities as families. This didn’t happen by accident. Within that family, there was a culture. There was training. There was intentionality in the process which resulted in a certain product across multiple generations. The notable qualities that they possessed are challenging and noteworthy as we attempt to train mighty men in our generation.

1. The Gadites: Strong, Fit, Skilled, Courageous, Able to Lead

1 Chronicles 12:8 And of the Gadites there separated themselves unto David into the hold to the wilderness men of might, and men of war fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains; 14 These were of the sons of Gad, captains of the host: one of the least was over an hundred, and the greatest over a thousand.

You didn’t mess with this family. Just their faces and presence instilled fear in the hearts of the enemy. The passage above is speaking of eleven sons of one man, of the tribe of Gad. In what ways were they trained?

  • All the boys in this family were strong (“men of might”). If we’re going to train mighty men, we need to train our children to be strong. Children naturally gravitate to the path of least resistance, to the easiest choice. It is our responsibility to train them to be strong in the Lord. Don’t take away the pressure every time they whine. Let’s train strong children.
  • The men in this family were fit for battle. This family didn’t wait for the battle to rage to prepare for it. They prepared from their youth. If we want our children to make a difference in the Lord’s army, we need to work to see that they are “fit” (Suitable, Qualified, Adapted, Prepared, Furnished), for the battle. Do they have a walk with God? Can they withstand temptations? Do they have control over their spirit? Are they orderly?
  • This family was skilled. This family created a culture that produced skilled warriors. They could handle the shield and buckler well. What skills are we helping our children to produce? Reading? Musical instrument? Critical thinking? Soul winning? Scripture understanding and interpretation? Communication? Mighty men are skilled men. This doesn’t happen by osmosis.
  • These men were courageous! The Scripture literally says that their faces were like lions. These men knew how to put their game face on. When it was time to fight, they set their faces toward the battle like a flint, and the enemy knew that they meant business, and wouldn’t back down. Are we training courageous children? There is an unintended consequence in our “safety-first” culture with our children. They don’t need knee pads when they ride their scooter. A “strawberry” (and praise after they get one) will do them well. They don’t need a helmet to ride a balance bike (seriously? Their head is two feet from the ground!). We have parents who are afraid to allow their children to go on a missions trip. If we train them like this, don’t expect them to end up on the mission field. Let’s allow our children to be bold, and encourage boldness and courage.
  • These brothers had leadership ability. The LEAST of these brothers was captain of 100 men. Let’s help our children to learn leadership skills. One of my children wants me to make every decision for them. But I will not. I want them to learn to be decisive, and other skills that will help them to one day lead a family, a ministry, or whatever the Lord gives them to lead.

2. The Children of Issachar: Understanding of the Times

  • These men understood the state of God’s people, culture, politics, even astrology it seems. Their heads were not stuck in the past or in the sand. They knew what was going on around them, and what the people ought to do live successfully in the current day. This may seem a difficult skill to train into children. But with skill in the unchanging truth of God’s word, and consistent teaching, it can be done. Our children should be trained to use ever-changing technology safely, and well. They should be aware of the state of the nation in which they live- of it’s opportunities and dangers. They should be aware of the state of the church, and of the lost. I tell my children often, “look up. Pay attention.” We’d be light years ahead if we lived “looking up” and “paying attention”, and praying for wisdom to discern the times.

3. The Children of Zebulun: Keep Rank, Not of a double heart

  • The men from this family new how to keep rank. Of course, this is a military term used in a military context. It meant that these men knew how to position themselves for the battle, but also keep that rank when the battle raged. We can learn two aspects of training from this. First, is that of order. My dad would say, “don’t let things get ‘cattywhompus.'” He’d also say “don’t live like a druggie” when it came to our schedules. And he didn’t allow a messy, disorderly house. What was he saying? Live a life of order! A messy schedule leads to sloppy living. A messy house leads to a careless life. A consistently care-free attitude will lead to disaster in marriage, children, work, on the road, and in life. Learn to put things in order, and keep things in order. Second, is that of tenacity. It’s one thing to get in rank. It’s another to keep it when the battle rages. Let’s train our children not just to get into rank, but to keep it too.
  • These mighty men were not of a double heart. These men were all in on the battle and the vision. This may be the most important culture we can garner in our family. There are also two training principles here. First, the culture of the family was to be “all-in”. It starts with the parents, folks. If I want to train my children to be single-hearted, as a parent, I must be of a single heart. The way I live in the public eye and the way I live in my home must line up. If not, I am not training mighty men of a single heart. Secondly, these men had no plan B. They had left living under Saul’s house and his leadership, and there was no plan to return, regardless of the outcome. If we want to train mighty children, we cannot teach them to have a plan B to doing the will of God. I see it on social media. I see it in our Sunday school classes. The result of parents who teach their children to have a plan B to God’s will is disastrous. Because when it gets tough (and it WILL), they turn to plan B. When it’s not what they thought it would be, they turn to plan B. When discouragement, or fatigue, or slander, comes, they turn to plan B. There was a culture in this home of Plan A (God’s will), and no other.

There are other families given in this chapter. I encourage those with a desire to train mighty men to study it further. But these are some key elements to seek to apply if we want to train mighty men to make a difference in the Lord’s army for generations to come.

Mighty Men (what every leader needs)

1 Chronicles 11:10-19 These also are the chief of the mighty men whom David had, who strengthened themselves with him in his kingdom, and with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the LORD concerning Israel.

There is one thing that successful churches, movements, and even companies have in common: mighty men who help the leader carry out the vision. In our context, mighty men help the God-given leader carry our the God-given vision. Much of King David’s success can be attributed to the men that stood by him from his time in the cave to his time in the castle.

I want to see God’s vision for our church carried out! But there must be mighty men that rally around pastor and the vision if this is going to happen. Are you a mighty man? Let’s see what made David’s mighty men, mighty men that made a great difference for the vision the Lord had given to David for His people:

1. They strengthened him when he came into the kingdom.

Simply put, these men gave him confidence to be established as king. The Benjamites questioned his legitimacy. The house of Saul fought against him as king. But the mighty men rallied Israel around him. When I was in China, and since, I was told that one reason President Xi has a political chip on his shoulder is because his predecessor and their loyalists never confirmed their support to him as the new prime minister. The leader should not question our loyalty. We should give him confidence in the position that God has given to him.

2. They stood with him when others fell away.

1 Chronicles 11:12-14 (KJV) And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, who was one of the three mighties. He was with David at Pas-dammim, and there the Philistines were gathered together to battle, where was a parcel of ground full of barley; and the people fled from before the Philistines. And they set themselves in the midst of that parcel, and delivered it, and slew the Philistines; and the LORD saved them by a great deliverance.

Whether because of fear, envy, despondency, or desire for influence, there will always be dissent. There will be those who fall away, or run away, and influence others to do the same. Jesus faced it. Paul faced it. Moses faced it. What these men did that made them mighty, was they stood with David when others did not. Mighty men stand with the leader when others do not.

3. They were attentive to his desires.

1 Chronicles 11:16-18 And David was then in the hold, and the Philistines’ garrison was then at Beth-lehem. And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Beth-lehem, that is at the gate! And the three brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Beth-lehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: but David would not drink of it, but poured it out to the LORD,

Mighty men are attentive to the desires of the leader. They don’t only do so when it’s convenient. Sometimes it involves sacrifice. But they understand that the well-being of the leader is important to the vision, and when he’s strong and taken care of, he can better take care of those God has called him to serve. My dad had men that would wait late to give him a ride home when we only had one vehicle, or that consistently bought him carrot juice when he was trying to eat healthy, or that bought him a firearm after September 11 to show they were concerned for his well-being. These things may seem small, but they mean much to the leader.

4. They kept tabs on his physical well-being.

2 Samuel 21:15-17 (KJV) Moreover the Philistines had yet war again with Israel; and David went down, and his servants with him, and fought against the Philistines: and David waxed faint. And Ishbi-benob, which was of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight, he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David. But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel.

Most leaders- especially strong and effective ones, will not tell their followers when they’re weak, discouraged, sick, or tired. They will push on, sometimes to their own demise. Sometimes it takes a well-trained eye to see that the leader is “faint”, and to do something about it. This is what these men did. They saw that David was in a vulnerable position. They didn’t just come to his aid at that moment. They made “system changes” so that he would not be in that position again.

5. They were proactive (took initiative)

1 Chronicles 12:20-22 (KJV) As he went to Ziklag, there fell to him of Manasseh, Adnah, and Jozabad, and Jediael, and Michael, and Jozabad, and Elihu, and Zilthai, captains of the thousands that were of Manasseh. And they helped David against the band of the rovers: for they were all mighty men of valour, and were captains in the host. For at that time day by day there came to David to help him, until it was a great host, like the host of God.

Mighty men don’t sit on their hands and wait for the leader to say something before they do something. They’re proactive in the work. They’re proactive for the vision. They’re proactive for the well-being of the people. Here, these mighty men noticed that the people and the land were vulnerable, and they took initiative to do something about it. Every leader needs mighty men who see a need, and take the lead. Men that are concerned about the vision, the people, and the possessions that the Lord has given. Leaders would rather have to pull back on the reigns than have to push.

If our our church is to be successful, and the vision is to go forward, we need mighty men like these.