…“He [Benaiah] also had gone and killed a lion in the midst of a pit on a snowy day.”2 Samuel 23:20
The achievements of David’s mighty men recorded in 2 Samuel 23 is truly worth reading with a ready heart and a ready mind. How David inspired these distressed, discontented, debt-ridden, and mainly disorganized group of ragamuffins is nothing short of amazing. They grew to be immensely dedicated to the one who had become captain over them—an apt depiction of the Captain of our salvation and the deep devotion He forges in the hearts of those He brings to glory.
One after another, this group was cited for their mighty deeds: fearlessness in the face of the enemy (v. 8); persistence for the task at hand (vv. 9-10); and their indefatigable defense of God’s provision for His people (vv. 11-12). What a roster and what a reminder to us, who will likewise be rewarded at the judgment seat of Christ when each one’s work will become clear.
Public Battles, Private Battles
One of those mighty men—Benaiah by name, has an interesting list of triumphs to his name. With equal bravado as his peers, he slew two lion-like men of Moab and also went on to kill an Egyptian using his own sword against him. What a soldier! He risked life and limb for the sake of his brethren, the public witness of his devotion just like the rest of these valiant warriors. His was much the same, an inspiring victory that undoubtedly spurred on the rest of the army, though many of them returned only to reap the results (v. 10).
One of Benaiah’s battles, however, truly stands out to me above all the rest. It was his victory in private to overcome a foe that no one else saw but himself. This foe was no less intimidating (perhaps more so), and required as much agility (and perhaps more so)! His victory over the lion, completes the picture of the overcomer who has victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil, seen in the victory over the Moabite men, the Egyptian, and the lion in the pit. That says a lot to us, does it not? Out of range of vison of anyone else to see, except the Lord, it is indicative of the private battles the Lord’s people go through alone but are necessary to win, if we are to move forward in the faith and gain our Lord’s “well done.”
Prerequisites for Victory
And what are the lessons that we can draw from this episode in God’s precious Word? Here is what I glean as I ponder this passage. First, some of our battles we engage in for the Lord are done in private. Paul spoke about the “fightings without and fears within” (2 Cor. 7:5). Some of his battles were external for all to see and some were internal for none to see, but the Lord.
The same holds true for many of us. Yes, there are events that are public, and a great source of public testimony for God as to His help and resource in the time of trouble. The disciples declared it when He came to their help in the midst of the sea (Matt. 14). The collective conviction was “Now we know that you are truly the Son of God”—all to the glory of the Lord. But we like the apostle also experience the trials within. Paul’s “fears within” could easily have been the care of all the churches that he spoke about, or maybe the massive disappointment that can rock any servant of the Lord who can all too often feel the sting of being let down, slighted, ignored, criticized, and even betrayed.
The heat of the flame of worthwhile ministry can either scorch the servant producing visible scars, or burn away the bands to emote a more liberating experience as Daniel’s friends could attest. Those are the more difficult battles, unseen and private, which require steady footing as Benaiah had to exhibit, albeit under adverse circumstances. The snowy day when the lion seems to strike the fiercest, requires a steadfast stance and firm footing with both feet on the ground. The sword must be in our hand, as we seek to rise above our circumstances after our descent to the field of battle.
These are the things that I ask myself when thinking through this account—“What must I be doing to seize the day?” “What must I do to be balanced in my walk, in my service, in my life to gain the victory so that I can demonstrate my unflinching allegiance to the One who is my Captain?” Maybe these are the questions we should all ask ourselves as we go through our private battles and as we seek to honor Him in our lives.