As a boy, I always enjoyed reading adventure stories and especially those in the Old Testament. The books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles fascinated me and still do today. During one reading I came across a soldier in David’s army who later became my favorite Bible character. His name is Benaiah. Who was this man? Benaiah was one of David’s mighty men. He was know for several astounding feats, but his entire life is an example of someone who faithfully served the Lord his entire life.
God honored his service.
He was valiant (2 Sam. 23:22-23). King David surrounded himself with a group of thirty highly skilled men. They were called David's Mighty Men. If you read through the chapter you will see that these men were recognized for certain acts of bravery. Benaiah was one of these men. In fact, he was not just one of the thirty, he was better than them. And as one of the mighty men, he was noted for his bravery.
He was trustworthy (2 Sam. 23:23b). Notice in verse 23 that Benaiah was given a place of trust in David’s entourage. David put him in charge of his guard. I think this is another way of saying that Benaiah was the captain of David’s body guards. I am not sure what the requirements are for being a secret service agent, but I imagine the president would want someone who was very trustworthy to protect him. David trusted Benaiah with this important job because he could be trusted.
He was a leader (1 Chron. 18:17). This chapter informs us of the accomplishments of King David. It tells us about wars he fought and preparations he made for defending the country. But in the last three verses of the chapter, we find out who his chief officers were. The last person to be listed is our hero. Benaiah was chief over a group of men called the Cherethites and Pelethites. Who were these men? We don’t know. Perhaps this was the group of body guards whom we heard about in the previous passage. Or they may have been a group of foreigners who had joined David during the time he was running away from King Saul. In any case, Benaiah was trusted by David to lead this group of men.
He was promoted (1 Kings 4:1-4). We know that David trusted this courageous soldier, but was he ever recognized for his service to the country. Yes, we find that during the reign of Solomon, Benaiah was promoted to the position of commander of the host. This was like being promoted to the commanding general of the army. It was quite an honor for Benaiah, but it was also a promotion he had earned by faithfully serving King David and throughout his life.
Most people would like to be honored in front of their peers. Although there is some embarrassment involved in being honored, there is also a good feeling that someone is thankful for your service. Honor is given to those who are faithful in service. Our God does the same. He wants to honor those who have been faithful. But he is not as interested in one time greats. He is looking for people who will be faithful throughout their entire life time. Benaiah was one of these men.
God honored his courage.
Eddie Rickenbacker was a famous WWI fighter pilot. In just two months of combat, he came away with 26 aerial victories. You would think someone like that was never afraid and yet in his book Bits & Pieces he said these words. "Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared."
We are never told that Benaiah feared anything. But if he was like the rest of us, he probably faced fear on a regular basis. In 1 Chronicles 11:22-24, we read of three of his greatest tests. With the Lord’s enablement, he defeated each formidable foe.
Against two lion-like men. One on one you might have a chance to win a game of pick-up basketball. But if you have to play against two people, the odds are against you. Benaiah faced two Moabite warriors who were described as lion-like men. You can imagine that these men were known for their fierce fighting skills. But after meeting Benaiah, they were known only for meeting their match.
Against a lion. On another occasion, Benaiah killed a lion in a pit. At first glance this seems like an easy task. But as you look at the details, you find that this was not as easy as you would have thought. It was on a snowy day. Imagine trying to fight someone in the slippery snow. Then think about doing it in a pit. Apparently, Benaiah found a lion in a pit and entered the pit to kill it. Again he came out the victor.
Against a giant Egyptian. Think about some of the tall people you have met before. I usually have the advantage in basketball because of my height. But when faced with people taller than me, I am suddenly at a disadvantage. Imagine Benaiah’s disadvantage when facing this tall Egyptian. He was about seven and a half feet tall. On top of that, he was carrying a spear the size of a weaver’s beam. The point is that this man was tall and strong. But once again, Benaiah defeated this soldier. He plucked the spear out of his hand with a staff and then killed him with his own weapon.
During the Old Testament, God honored those who trusted him. It is obvious to see that Benaiah was a man who trusted the Lord for these victories. It is no wonder that the Lord included the record of his accomplishments so prominently.
Where is our faith today? Are we known for our courage in doing the Lord’s work? Or are we known as the spineless jelly fish that cannot even speak Jesus’ name in front of an unbeliever. God needs a new group of mighty men who are willing to do his work in the power he gives them. Will you be one of them?
God honored his loyalty.
What happened to Benaiah as he grew older? There is no doubt that as his body grew older, his physical abilities decreased proportionately. Did he lose his place of prominence or was there still a position open for the once mighty warrior? In the next two passages, we will see that Benaiah remained a loyal member of the kingdom.
During Absalom’s Attack (2 Sam. 17:8) As David grew older, his mighty men stood with him through some very difficult times. When Absalom attempted to overthrow his father’s kingdom, David was saved by they advice of Hushai the Archite. When asked for his opinion, Hushai reminded Absalom that David had the mighty men with him and that they were like a bear robbed of its cubs. After hearing these words, Absalom decided to round up a larger army before attacking his father’s army. Why was that? I think it was because of the respect men like Benaiah had earned. They were not just mighty men. They were also completely loyal.
During Adonijah’s Attempt (1 Kings 1:5-10) At the end of David’s life, when it was time for him to hand over the throne to one of his sons, Adonijah decided to crown himself king. Unfortunately, Joab and Abiathar lent him their support. Adonijah threw a party for the occasion and invited lots of friends. But, there were a few important people who didn’t get an invitation. "But he did not invite Nathan the prophet, Benaiah, the mighty men, or Solomon his brother" (10). This is a very telling statement. Adonijah already knew what Benaiah and these other men would have said. They would be loyal to David until death and would follow whomever he chose to replace him. Adonijah never succeeded and as we saw earlier, Benaiah was eventually promoted to the position of commander of the army for King Solomon.
Many people are known for exciting one-time accomplishments, but very few are known for faithful service over the long haul. Benaiah is a good example of someone who dedicated his entire life for service to his king. His mighty acts were not just a one time thing. Instead, he faithfully served in the positions given him year after year and was later rewarded as a trustworthy and loyal servant.
When I think about people like Benaiah who are remembered for their faithful service, the question often pops into my mind: "For what will I be remembered?" Will I be remembered as a faithful servant of God or someone who was inconsistent. With God’s help, I want to be a Benaiah who will faithfully make a difference for God wherever I am.