So here we go, for the next five weeks we are going to look at and learn from some incredible people in scripture and how they responded when life happened. These are real people, like you and me who were asked by God to risk everything. They had decisions to make, to either make a stand, to risk it all, or not. So as we look at their lives, your challenge is to look at how they responded, and apply it to the challenges you face in life. Because let’s face it, we are all dealing with challenges in life. We all have hurts, pain, and issues that we have to fight and engage in…or not. How we respond to moments in our lives is everything. So over the next few weeks you are going to stories of Esther, Caleb, Jonathan, Paul, and this week I get to open up the story looking at David’s Three Mighty Men.
I am very excited to talk to you about these three guys. I have always found them to be amazing, and the line that I love about these three guy life is this…
2 Samuel 23:17 This is the sort of thing that the Three did. (MSG)
So today we are going to look “The Three” and the way the lived their lives. But really I want to understand how they got to the place where they lived this way. The way of a warrior, doing extraordinary things in such a way that the Bible would say…”eh, it’s just the sort of thing that these three men did.” It’s who they were. So let’s look at these three amazing warriors today and see what we can learn from them!
The three mighty men were at the top of King David’s list of warriors. You can actually read about them in two places in the Bible, both 1 Chronicles 11 and in 2 Samuel…we are going to hang out mostly in 2 Samuel today. These three men, were the most incredible soldiers in all of David’s army. Now that is really saying something, because if you remember David and his army were the toughest, best fighting force that there was…and at the top of David’s list were 37 men, (which ironically enough if you count the 37 men in 1 Chronicles you get over 60 names, but hey were focused on the big three,) who were known as David’s mighty men. At the top of that list was the three. They were held in the highest esteem, and listed in their own category of awesomeness. Their names were Josheb-Basshebeth, Eleazor, and Shamnah and they were no ordinary warriors. They were set a part and we get just a few glimpses at their lives. They were recognized as “The Three.”
2 Samuel 23:8-12
8 Josheb-Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter.
9 Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty men, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered [at Pas Dammim] for battle. Then the men of Israel retreated, 10 but he stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The LORD brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.
11 Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. 12 But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the LORD brought about a great victory. NIV
Ok, so I told you these are three ordinary guys like you and me right? One guy kills 800 with his spear, another when the entire army of Israel is running away, stops and takes down the entire Philistine army, and fight’s so long that he can’t take his hand off of his sword…and then the last decided to make his stand in a bean patch and took down an entire army as it attacked. You know, very ordinary guys just like you and me! Well the three mighty men are ferocious, and maybe they are slightly better warriors than you and I but there is some things we can learn from these guys that are a really big deal! Before we get into that let’s I want to look at a story we have with them serving their King whom they loved so much…
2 Samuel 23:13 One day during harvest, the Three parted from the Thirty and joined David at the Cave of Adullam. A squad of Philistines had set up camp in the Valley of Rephaim. 14 While David was holed up in the Cave, the Philistines had their base camp in Bethlehem. 15 David had a sudden craving and said, “Would I ever like a drink of water from the well at the gate of Bethlehem!” 16 So the Three penetrated the Philistine lines, drew water from the well at the gate of Bethlehem, and brought it back to David. But David wouldn’t drink it; he poured it out as an offering to GOD, 17 saying, “There is no way, GOD, that I’ll drink this! This isn’t mere water, it’s their life-blood — they risked their very lives to bring it!” So David refused to drink it.
This is the sort of thing that the Three did. (MSG)
This is an incredible story here about the three! Their King the one they love and are loyal to is thirsty. He doesn’t command them to do a darn thing but they go anyway. Now I imagine this wasn’t a very leisurely stroll through a meadow…no this was a blood bath, breaking through enemy lines to get water from the well their King longed for. This is unreal, and the Bible says it’s just the sort of thing the three did. It’s just the way they lived this way. They made the extraordinary, seem very ordinary.
Now as unbelievable as these three men are, I believe we can learn a lot from them. We can see why they lived the way they did, and maybe how we should too. Let’s break down these guys a little further here, and see what we find…
So the first guy we see is Josheb, he is Chief of the three. He killed 800 men with his spear in one encounter. So we know, these guys are obviously good at what they do.
The second guy is Eleazor who was with David at Pas Dammim and from what we can gather the Isrealite army begins talking trash on the Philistines who attack them, the entire army retreats, but Eleazor stands his ground, and literally became one with his sword. When the army came back, all they got to do was clean up the Philistine dead, you know roll them over and take their wallets!
The third guy is Shammah watched the whole army run away from him too, but he decided that wasn’t ok. And he took a stand in the middle of a bean field, and defeated the Philistines there. I can picture this in my mind, one man standing in the middle of a field, with an army baring down on him. Just awesome right…nah, this is just the type of thing that the three did.
So here in these three guys we find confidence, bravery, loyalty, strength, commitment. They are the whole package. What was it that made these guys make decisions that others wouldn’t make? Well there is so much we could talk about here, but if I had to take one thing from each of them that stands out to me, it would be this…
- Josheb shows that these guys are great at what they do.
- Eleazor fought so hard he couldn’t let go of his sword.
- Shammah didn’t go with the crowd, he took a stand.
First we see in Josheb (and all of them really), they were really good at what they do. I mean to take down 800 warriors in one encounter is not easy to do, I think on my best day I could probably only get 50 or 60 let alone 800! Well how do we get good at something? We work at it! It’s funny but the more you work at something, the better you get. The better you get, the more confidence you have. (Monica playing hoops) Just like these men worked at fighting, we need to work at fighting our spiritual battles too!
Matthew 7:13-14 “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. 14 The way to life — to God! — is vigorous and requires total attention. (MSG)
This is the opposite of what we want to hear isn’t it? In the culture we live in, we want quick and easy don’t we? I mean who wants to work at it, right? Well, no one does, but what is really interesting is that I bet the soldiers fighting these three guys wished they would have worked harder in that moment where they stood face to face with the mighty men…it’s the same in our lives as well. We don’t want to put the work in but we sure do want the results! Especially when the moment comes when we need the result…but at that point if the work isn’t done it’s just too late!
When you work hard at something you get good at it. When you are good at something you gain confidence. When you are confident, you are more willing to stand up and take life on, because you know that you are ready…just like the three. The hard work pays off. I know, I know, we don’t like to work at anything, but to be great at something…it takes work. The result is the reward for all the things you do when no one is around to see what you are doing. For Josheb, it was hours and hours of training, strength training, spear work, hours and hours of work. For us it’s out time with God, engaging Him in prayer, and spending time in his word…which leads me to our second guy Eleazor.
Second we see that Eleazor had fought so hard, but never let go of his sword. In some translations it literally says that he became one with his sword. So let me ask you something. What does the Bible call our sword? It’s the Bible!
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. NIV
So our sword is the word of God! We need to take up our weapon, and never let it go! The more time we spend in God’s word the better off we will be. Do you remember when Jesus was being tempted by the devil? He responded every time with scripture, every time the devil came at him he responded out of Deuteronomy. He was fighting his enemy by using His sword. If God in skin fights the enemy this way, maybe it’s a good way for us to fight him too! This is why we beg of you to engage God’s word every day! As you read it and engage it, you will see number one that it is more relevant to your life than you realize. Number two it will become part of your life. And lastly you can then stop just listening to what someone tells you about the word and learn it for yourself, which we do all the time right? We quote someone’s version of something in scripture with no context of what they are saying…again that’s easier right? Takes less time right? It’s time we engage it on your own. The word of God is your ultimate weapon against our enemy!
Third we see in Shammah that he took his stand in a lintel field, he didn’t go with the crowd. Boy oh boy, don’t we wish that we could do what Shammah does? I know for me I would have gotten into a lot less trouble over the years if I could have just been my own person, and resisted the momentum of what everyone around me was doing! Let’s again look at what Jesus said in Matthew 7, but this time in the New International Version.
Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. NIV
The crowds are heading one way, Jesus is saying to go the right way, regardless of what the crowd is up to. Just like our boy Shammah.
These three mighty men are some of my favorite characters in scripture. These guys are just cool aren’t they, and all we know is that they did amazing things, and the Bible says…well, that’s just what these guys did. When life happened, and they stood across a battlefield from an entire army all alone, they had a choice to make. They could have ran like everyone else. That probably made more sense. It probably was the safer thing to do, but they didn’t do that…they stood up and fought. How they responded in those moments of life was a big deal, and it is for you to!
So here’s my challenge to you today, what will you do when life hits you?
How will you respond when the moments of life hit? Maybe you will never be asked to take on 800 warriors by yourself…but life will hit. Maybe you have sat here for this whole talk and thought, “well that’s great for the three mighty men. We get it Sam they are awesome. You want us to engage God more, thanks…but I don’t see this applying to my life at all, now let me go home and watch the Olympics on TV.” Ok, so you may never find yourself needing to take out an entire army, but you know, and I know that you will find yourself standing in a lintel field of your own and when you do how you respond will determine everything.
Let me ask you something, where in your life are you struggling to fight? What adversity is pushing in on you harder than ever before? For some of us it’s our marriage. It’s getting harder and harder to engage. She isn’t giving me what I want, and He isn’t doing anything I would like him to do…and I want out. Maybe your marriage is your lintel field today. Maybe your lintel field is your finances. You just can’t get them right, and every time you think you are close to getting them right something else happens. Your neighbor gets a new car, which is brutal right, because now you need a new car! Something else in the house breaks, or you just need the next great whatever it is…That is your lintel field, and its your moment to choose. You are standing in a lintel field…everyone you love is running away from you and the Philistine army is bearing down on you…you have a choice to make, just like the three did. You can run or you can fight. You can see every reason why it’s time to quit on the person you promised your life to, or you can raise your sword and go out swinging. The three made their choice, what will yours be?
When we look at these amazing men they served their King well and they did it regardless of what the outcome would be. Isn’t that how the Bible defined faith. See sometimes the three knew they had to serve the King by taking a stand. They would draw a line, and say you know what this isn’t going to happen on my watch…Philistines you are all going to die today. Sometimes they served their King through deep love and by actually serving their king and bringing him water. They did the right thing in their hearts…regardless of what the result would be. They literally gave up their lives to hand the king water from the well of Bethlehem, and the King in an act of worship dumps it out right in front of them. He didn’t throw them a party, he didn’t celebrate that they had done this, he literally dumps the water out, saying “how dare I drink this water that they were willing to die to bring me!” I think in reality this probably made them love their King all the more, but I am quite sure this wasn’t the response that they were looking for. They did it anyway. You know why? Because these were the types of things the three did. The questions becomes what do you do?
When moments in your life hit, how will you respond. You will have moments in your life where you will find yourself standing in the middle of the lintel field watching everyone run away with the enemy attacking full go behind you. You really have a couple of options in those moments.
1. Sometimes you may have to draw a line and take a stand. You know what my finances are a train wreck…we are not going to eat out until I get this right. You know what, every time I hang out with this friend I get into trouble…so I’m not going to do this anymore. Draw the line, and take your stand.
2. Sometimes in those most difficult moments, you may need to serve the ones you love…even when you may not get the response you wanted. Are you willing to go get your spouse the water, knowing that there is a shot that she/he will dump it out right in front of you? David dumped it out in submission to God…they may dump it out because they are just flat out ticked off…but are you willing to serve them in that moment? If she dumps it out, then what? Well you won’t know until you pick up your sword and head down to the well behind enemy lines and bring her the water will you.
This world is not nice. I promise you life will happen. We love you too much to tell you any differently here at MRC. The question then becomes when life happens, how do you respond? When life happens, what is it that you see? Do you see barriers? Do you see opportunities? What is it? For “The Three” when everything looked lost, and the battles looked absolutely unwinnable…they saw opportunities to succeed…it’s just how they lived.
So what’s it going to be? You may be standing in a lintel field in your life right now…you turn one way and see everyone around you running away. You turn the other way and you see the enemy attacking from all sides…you have a sword in your hand, your heart is racing…the decision is yours. You can take your stand, or not. The choice is up to you.