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.

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