1 Chronicles 11:20-47 (Part 1) – Where Are You, Men of Courage?

Posted: March 5, 2020 in 13-1 Chronicles

1 Chronicles 11:20-47 (Part 1 of 2)

David’s Thirty Mighty Men

“Where are you, men of courage?” It is one of the key moments in the faith-based movie, Courageous, that was released in 2011. That was the thing that I thought of this morning as I read through 1 Chronicles 11:20-47. We know from 1 Samuel that there were about 400 men that joined David as he was defending himself against the armies of King Saul. But there was here in this passage a listing of the members of the group known as the Thirty. There are 37 names which I assume means that not all them were part of the 30 for its entire existence and some had to be replaced. All of the men who served in The Thirty are listed in this passage. Of the original 400 men that assembled as David’s ragtag army, there were only these men who were part of The Thirty. Not much is said about them but their names are given. Every man who joined David in the wilderness entered into his kingdom, but only a few made the list of mighty men. These were the men who were the men of courage.

After a quarter century or more of Christianity being systematically removed from public discourse, one wonders where today’s men of courage might be. We often complain about how Christians are marginalized in today’s society but yet we continue to quietly accept that we can do nothing about it. Will there be a day when there are names noted as men, and women, who stood up against the tide of secularization of our society. Ten commandments removed from courthouses. Prayer removed from public school and public school events. We are unable to do many things that were just considered a normal part of life just 40 or 50 years ago. We are afraid to speak up about so many things that are crucial to our faith that have gone out of fashion in the public marketplace. Where are the men of courage? Where are the women of courage? Will we continue to withdraw inside our church walls and complain about “them” out there and huddle inside our holy huddles?

Will we be men of courage? Will we be women of courage? Will there be remembrances of our names when there is a discussion of great men and women of faith of our generation? That’s what I thought of this morning as I read through the names of the courageous fighting men that were David’s closest advisors and protectors. Let’s read this passage now:

20 Now Abishai,[a] the brother of Joab, was chief of the Thirty.[b] With his spear he fought against three hundred and killed them, and won a name beside the Three. 21 He was the most renowned[c] of the Thirty,[d] and became their commander; but he did not attain to the Three.

22 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was a valiant man[e] of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds; he struck down two sons of[f] Ariel of Moab. He also went down and killed a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen. 23 And he killed an Egyptian, a man of great stature, five cubits tall. The Egyptian had in his hand a spear like a weaver’s beam; but Benaiah went against him with a staff, snatched the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand, and killed him with his own spear. 24 Such were the things Benaiah son of Jehoiada did, and he won a name beside the three warriors. 25 He was renowned among the Thirty, but he did not attain to the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard.

26 The warriors of the armies were Asahel brother of Joab, Elhanan son of Dodo of Bethlehem, 27 Shammoth of Harod,[g] Helez the Pelonite, 28 Ira son of Ikkesh of Tekoa, Abiezer of Anathoth, 29 Sibbecai the Hushathite, Ilai the Ahohite, 30 Maharai of Netophah, Heled son of Baanah of Netophah, 31 Ithai son of Ribai of Gibeah of the Benjaminites, Benaiah of Pirathon, 32 Hurai of the wadis of Gaash, Abiel the Arbathite, 33 Azmaveth of Baharum, Eliahba of Shaalbon, 34 Hashem[h] the Gizonite, Jonathan son of Shagee the Hararite, 35 Ahiam son of Sachar the Hararite, Eliphal son of Ur, 36 Hepher the Mecherathite, Ahijah the Pelonite, 37 Hezro of Carmel, Naarai son of Ezbai, 38 Joel the brother of Nathan, Mibhar son of Hagri, 39 Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai of Beeroth, the armor-bearer of Joab son of Zeruiah, 40 Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite, 41 Uriah the Hittite, Zabad son of Ahlai, 42 Adina son of Shiza the Reubenite, a leader of the Reubenites, and thirty with him, 43 Hanan son of Maacah, and Joshaphat the Mithnite, 44 Uzzia the Ashterathite, Shama and Jeiel sons of Hotham the Aroerite, 45 Jediael son of Shimri, and his brother Joha the Tizite, 46 Eliel the Mahavite, and Jeribai and Joshaviah sons of Elnaam, and Ithmah the Moabite, 47 Eliel, and Obed, and Jaasiel the Mezobaite.

In this passage, we see the names of fighting men who were among a group of elite soldiers that were known as The Thirty. They are among the first to support David and they were his most skilled soldiers. They honed their craft with David as he spent all those years on the run from King Saul. They stood with David against the tyranny of King Saul when everyone else just accepted what was going on and kept quiet so that they would not be at risk of the wrath of the king. These were men of courage who fought against the tide of opposition and stood out and followed David. They were not quietly acquiescing to the murderous tirades of King Saul in his attempt to stamp out David. They would not have it. It was wrong and they knew and did something about it. Ultimately, they were rewarded when King David came to power. Ultimately, they are remembered and immortalized here as great men of courage that fought with and supported “a man after God’s own heart”! So, here they are immortalized forever in the Bible as great men of faith, of great men of courage, of great men of loyalty.

It was Martin Luther King, Jr.  who once said, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” What he was referring to was that often there were good people in the South who were against the institutional and systematic racism against blacks but who did nothing to stop it. They were afraid of retribution for their opposing “the way things had always been.” That’s the appalling silence that Dr. King spoke of. In today’s world, we could say the same thing about us as Christians in America. We remain quiet as the world continues to chip away at our beliefs and remove them piece by piece from the public domain. Christians in other parts of the world are willing to die for their beliefs and do so more often than we want to recognize. However, the question that arises for us in the United States as Christians is whether we have the courage of Christians in the Muslim world. Do we have the courage of Christians in China? Do we have the courage of Christians in North Korea? Are we willing to stand up and stand out like David’s mighty fighting men? Do we have the courage to be willing to lose everything for what we believe? Are we more concerned with our creature comforts and bank accounts and vacations and nice cars and nice toys than we are to stand up and stand out? There will come a day when being a Christian in the United States will cost us our secular comforts? Are we going to be silent to keep our toys or are we going to be among those that are recounted to future generations as great men and women of courage, as great men and women of faith? Will you be counted? Will I be counted? Or will we be the silent good people?

Amen and Amen.

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