Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Being a Benaiah, Part 2

The title gives you a hint that this is a continuation of thought. The earlier blog revealed the characteristics of a mighty man of David named, Benaiah, a man recorded as "more honorable than the other thirty," not an easy feat. He was so outstanding, David chose him to be his personal body guard (2 Sam. 23:23)! Wow, how would you like that responsibility! Personal body guard to the winningest warrior-king in the history of Israel, the one every other nation would love to destroy. We've looked at the nature of honor and how Benaiah won victories against the world, the flesh, and the devil, now let’s look at some other aspects related to this fascinating warrior.

In fighting with the Egyptian, the Bible says he “wrested the spear out of his hand and killed him with his own sword.” This shows a level of creativity to use the very weapons of the enemy against them. I see us as current Benaiahs being effective in using TV, Movies, Radio, and Social Media (a tool often used by our enemy) to “stab” our enemies and get the truth of the Gospel into the hearts and minds of those that have been duped by the world, the flesh, and the devil. Turning our enemy’s weapons back on them is a most creative and effective means of warfare. Benaiah gives us a beautiful picture of a cunning military maneuver.
In fighting with the Moabites, the Bible describes the fact that they were “lion-like,” demonstrating the ferocity and blind focus of this enemy. Being on guard against such a physically powerful enemy is vital in order to survive. The Scripture also says that there were two of them, a clear picture that this enemy comes in waves, never alone, and uses the strategy of flanking. In every man’s heart is the tendency to drift into fleshly pleasures, self-gratification, and carnality. We are prone to slip. Don't be lulled into thinking that this conflict with our flesh is not that big a deal. Seeing the battle from Benaiah’s perspective helps us to keep our guard up and to realize that since the Bible calls these Moabite’s, “heroes,” we must be a hero in order to defeat a hero!

The conflict with the lion is the most interesting. Notice that the Bible states that Benaiah "had gone down" to fight the lion. This shows personal initiative and confidence in doing the right thing. He didn't wait for the "fight" to come to him, but rather he engaged the enemy. Also, it shows the willingness to fight an impossible battle in the worst of situations. Samuel declares that Benaiah fought "a lion," the worst of enemies, "in a pit," the worst of locations, "on a snowy day," the worst of conditions! And, get this, he did it voluntarily! What a guy! What a great character to emulate and pattern our lives after. Here is the vital part of honor - doing what is right regardless of what it may cost, regardless of the circumstances, and regardless of the unforeseen consequences. Sadly, this characteristic is woefully lacking in our churches. Oh, Lord, please wake up some "Benaiahs" today!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Being a Benaiah, Part 1

Men that are real men – that’s what we desperately need! Just because a man can slam dunk a basketball, outrun everyone else on the field, and bench press more weight than a building crane it does NOT make him a real man, just a physically fit one.  I’ve seen athletes with these characteristics but they are selfish, conceited, emotional babies that cry anytime someone else looks at them sideways. If they don't get their way, well, honor is NOT the word that describes them.  What we need are more men like Benaiah. Read this short passage. 

Benaiah was the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man from Kabzeel, who had done many deeds. He had killed two lion-like heroes of Moab. He also had gone down and killed a lion in the midst of a pit on a snowy day. And he killed an Egyptian, a spectacular man (the Chronicles account states the Egyptian was 5 cubits in height and his spear was the size of a weaver’s beam). The Egyptian had a spear in his hand; so he went down to him with a staff, wrested the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand, and killed him with his own spear. These things Benaiah the son of Jehoiada did, and won a name among the three mighty men. He was more honorable than the thirty, but he did not attain to the first three. And David appointed him over his guard.  (2 Samuel 23:20-23 and 1 Chronicles 11:22-23)
Benaiah was “more honorable than the thirty.” Now, friends, that’s saying something! Those thirty were the “best of the best of the best, yes, sir!” and to say that this man was more honorable is staggering. The character quality of honor has become a rarity in our culture, making this study timely. Let’s tear open the wrappings around this fascinating man and observe the components of an honorable hero. Honor is doing the right thing at all times regardless of the cost or unexpected circumstances. Though our world has lowered the bar regarding honor (as well as the definition of what is “right”) this was also the case in Benaiah’s day. Remember, they had just emerged from the time of the Judges, an era where “every man did what was right in his own eyes.” Sound familiar? See, just as before, we need a generation of men that desire to be “more honorable!”

The characteristics that gave Benaiah the mantle of honor starts with the subtle explanation of the three battles that are listed twice in the Scriptures (noted above). He fought an Egyptian, a couple of Moabites, and a lion. Interestingly, Egypt is always a picture of “the world,” the cultural norms and pinnacle of human achievements. The Moabites started out through vile immorality and are constantly guilty of sensual, lascivious actions that were a perverse and unfortunately strong influence on Israel; this is a picture of “the flesh.” (Note: Rahab was the ONLY bright spot in Moab’s history, and an encouragement for us all.) The third battle Benaiah fought was with a lion, an obvious picture that the Apostle Peter described of our most dreadful enemy, “the devil.” So there you have the story in a nutshell – Benaiah overcame the “world,” the “flesh,” and the “devil,” key ingredients of a man of honor. We all face these three enemies on a daily basis, some more often than others, but the man of honor learns how to defeat them all. It’s no surprise that all of our armed forces use the word, “honor,” to describe the caliber of warrior they desire to inspire.
Take notice this week of the number of encounters you face with these three enemies. Mentally record the battles you win and the ones you lose. (Don't pretend you can't do that - we're men, we always keep score!) Go for the gold, my fellow heroic protege', and make the score an annihilation of the adversary, a complete victory, and give no ground over to these 'life-eaters.' This is a choice, a conscious decision. Make it, and make it again, and again. Be a Benaiah.