Lessons From An Old Soldier
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by Derek Gentle
David is engaged in combat with
one of the sons of Goliath, Ishbi-Benob. But David has aged and
in the fight the old warrior grows weary. The wicked mutant,
sensing the king's vulnerability and filled with confidence,
presses his advantage. Furious is his assualt, and unrelenting.
David is on the defensive, able only to block one blow after
another. Weakening, he cannot hold out much longer. He is about
to die. But then comes Abishai who quickly strikes and kills the
giant. God's man is rescued. And we learn some lessons from an
old soldier. We learn that:
I. WE DON'T LOSE OUR VALUE
BY LOSING AN ABILITY
You may not be able to serve the
Lord in some of the ways that you used to. It may be a source of
frustration and even grief to you that you can no longer visit
for the church or that you had to give up that teaching position.
But you just can't see to drive at night or to walk up the steps.
Your health will not allow you to do what you so desperately want
If that is your case, then verse
17 is for you: the last part says, "Then the men of David
swore to him, saying, 'You shall go out with us no more to
battle...'". David would no longer go out to fight with his
armies. Here was a man who still had the fight in him but who
could no longer be in the fight. Was it a sign that he had begun
to lose his value? That he could no longer be a contributing
member of his nation? Not at all! The very reason his men
prevailed upon him not to return to battle was his value:
"Lest you quench the lamp of Israel" (vs. 17). His very
presence was such a force among God's people that it was too
precious to lose. People who love Jesus contribute far more by
what they are than by what they do. And frankly, it is very
shallow of us to measure ourselves only by external measures of
For example, everyone who enters a
worship service carries with him so many cubic feet of spiritual
atmosphere. When a person comes in filled with bitterness and
unbelief, they drain the the spiritual climate. When a
Spirit-filled believer is present, though he may not speak a
word, he charges the service with love and expectancy- just by
his very presence. Any pastor can tell you that it is easier or
harder to preach depending on who is there on the given Sunday.
You may be a greater blessing than you can know!
II. WE SHOULD EXPECT THE
ENEMY TO BE CONSTANTLY ON THE ATTACK
Notice verse 15: "When the
Philistines were at war again with Israel"
and verse 18: "Now it
happened afterward that there was again a battle with the
Philistines at Gob"
and verse 19: "Again there
was war at Gob with the Philistines"
Notice the words: "war
again", "again a battle", "Again there was
Just like Israel and the
Philistines, in our spiritual warfare, we can know that there
will always be another "again". There is no point of
maturity which marks the end of the conflict, but only the end of
the beginning. Battle is part of the Christian life. Judges 3:1-2
tells us that the Lord left nations in Canaan after Israel had
entered, "So that the generations of the children of Israel
might be taught to know war". In fact, as Adrian Rogers has
put it, "There is no blessing without a battle".
Mark Bubeck, in his book, Overcoming
the Adversary, tells the story of a Canadian woman who had
read an earlier book of his on resisting the devil. She said,
"I've done it all, but it just doesn't work for me. I've
prayed...I've read and memorized the Word, I've aggressively and
consistently resisted the devil and his demons, but I'm still
harrassed constantly". She was so defeated that she was no
longer attending church. As they talked, Bubeck asked her if she
had ever thanked the Lord for the battle. He inquired if she had
ever asked God to teach her through this prolonged conflict. He
reports that when she saw that God might want to use the battle
in her life to teach her stability and faithfulness, "it
opened up an entire new vista for her".
III. WE SHOULD BE ALERT
THAT THE ENEMY ATTACKS US WHEN AND WHERE WE ARE WEAK
When did the giant move in for the
kill with David? The end of verse 15 and verse 16 tells us:
"...David grew faint. Then Ishbi-Benob... thought he could
kill David". When David grew faint, then.
To illustrate this on the simplest
level, how many of you have had to apologize to your spouse
saying, "Honey, I'm sorry I snapped at you. I'm just
tired" ? Professional athletes sometimes keep books on
opposing players and their weaknesses and strengths. You can be
sure that the devil has a "book" on you. He know when
you are growing faint, where you are vulnerable, and to what you
are susceptible. So none of us has the luxury of an unguarded
moment or an area without growth.
IV. WE SHOULD BE ALERT TO
AN OLD ENEMY WITH A NEW WEAPON
One of the things that caused him
to believe that he could take David was that Ishbi-Benob
"was bearing a new sword" (verse 16). New swords work;
just ask the Iraqis. Smart bombs and high-tech weaponry helped
drive them to surrender in droves. Ask Japan; they were prepared
to fight a U.S. invasion to the last man, woman, and child- until
the second atomic bomb was dropped. The ancient Chinese general,
Sun Tzu, wrote, "When I have won a victory I do not repeat
my tactics, but respond to circumstances in an infinite variety
of ways." The devil is no less smart. And while the
temptations are the same the labels and packaging are changed all
V. WE NEED THE HELP OF
OTHERS IN THE BATTLE
"...David grew faint...But
Abishai...came to his aid..." Vs. 15, 17
I read in Reader's Digest about a
rather strong man who applied for a job with a moving company. To
see if the the applicants knew how to move heavy objects properly
each person interviewed was asked to move a safe. Each one
strained to move it across the room. Finally, the muscular guy
had his turn. He exclaimed, "Are you kidding? I can't move
that safe by myself." He got the job.
We, too, would do well to learn
that spiritual warfare is just too heavy a burden to carry alone.
Even David needed the aid of Abishai. "Two are better than
one, because they have good reward for their labor. For if they
fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone
when he falls, for he has no one to help him up", says
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10. Paul described Epaphroditus as, "My
brother, fellow-worker, and fellow soldier" (Philippians
2:25). David didn't fight alone and Paul didn't fight alone. And
neither should you!
Perhaps you are in a situation now
that is not like that of David, but calls on you to be an
Abishai. You know a David. You can name her or him. This person
is growing faint in the battle. The enemy is moving in for the
kill. The situation calls on you to come to this person's aid.
VI. WE SHOULD DEVELOP THE
POWER OF A GODLY INFLUENCE
In this passage, we see three
servants of David, in addition to Abishai, named as giant
killers. Certainly, we live in a time when giants roam the earth.
Killers who devour God's people. Spiritual giants, but giants
nevertheless. Giants which must be slain! Sibbechai, Elhanon, and
Jonathon were giant killers. And all three were under the
influence of that first man of God to pioneer giant killing,
It was Sibbechai who "killed
Saph, who was one of the sons of the giant" (vs. 18).
Sibbechai is one of the mighty warriors of David mentioned in I
Chronicles 11. This chapter lists those who "strengthened
themselves with him" (see verses 10 and 26). It seems that
those who were around David caught what he had.
Verse 19 tells us that
"Elhanan the son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed the
brother of Goliath". Elhanan had his roots in David's
hometown. He had heard the stories about David's triumph over
Goliath. It was the talk and pride of the town. He came through
life wanting a giant of his own. It seems that those who were
around David caught what he had.
There was another giant, one with
six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, "and he
also was born to the giant" (vs. 20). Like his father, he
defied Israel. Big mistake! "So when he defied Israel,
Jonathan the son of Shimea, David's brother killed him" (vs.
21). Jonathan... the nephew of David, who bore the same name as
David's closest friend, who grew up hearing about the victories
of his uncle and aspiring to victories of his own, was ready. It
seems that those who were around David caught what he had.
Verse 22 summarizes: "These
four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of
David and by the hands of his servants." But David didn't
kill any of those four. How is it that verse 22 says that they
"fell by the hand of David"? How so? Because David had
raised up and influenced a generation of giant killers. Their
victory was his victory; the giant killer had begotton giant
killers. May God enable us to do the same!
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