One way of understanding David’s success as a king is to look at the men who willingly followed him while he was a fugitive, nobody special. Some men were in debt, some were in distress and others were discontented. David had a 3-D army!
But they all showed one thing in common: loyalty to David. Together their achievements made them famous for centuries to come!
David’s men followed him because David showed unparalleled courage in the face of adversity and he had the ability to inspire them to reach their full potential. Some of them saw David kill the giant Goliath and they also became giant slayers. They saw that God was with David, even though he was still dwelling in the cave of Adullam. They saw how a small band of loyal men consistently had victories over great armies that outnumbered them.
(II Samuel 23:18-39; I Chronicles 11:11-25)
The top three heroes in David’s army:
Josheb-Basshebeth (‘one who sat on a seat’) – his nickname was Adino (‘the slender one’)
Eleazar (‘God has helped’) – he fought with David when the rest of the army fled away until his hand clave to his sword (I Chronicles 27:2).
Shammah (‘The Lord is there’) – he stood alone in a lentil patch when everyone else fled and God gave him a great victory over the enemy.
The three that satisfied David’s thirst for water from the well of Bethlehem:
Abishai (‘Father of a gift’) – a brother of Joab. Abishai killed 300 men single handedly.
Benaiah (‘God has built’) – killed 2 giants, killed a lion in a pit full of snow and also killed an Egyptian with the man’s own staff
Asahel (‘God has made’) – another brother of Joab
The list of 30 great men in David’s army:
II Samuel 23:24-39
The five giants that David and his men killed:
Goliath (‘stripped naked or denude’) – nakedness in the sight of God (Hebrews 4:12, 13) David means ‘beloved’. Jesus, the beloved Son of God defeated original sin for us by becoming a man and shedding his blood for the remission of sin for all mankind. He clothes us with His righteousness. He covers our old sinful nature.
Ishbi-Benob (‘his dwelling is in Nob, the land of the giants, it also means ‘fruit’) – speaks of the temptation that led to original sin: a fruit was offered to both Adam and Eve, the forbidden fruit. They fell into the trap of disobeying God’s command not to eat of the tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden. Knowledge without ability to accomplish is frustrating. We cannot save ourselves. Our goodness is never good enough. Abishai (‘Father of a gift’) slayed the giant called Ishbi-Benob. We receive the gift of God through faith in Jesus Christ who slew this giant for us and teaches us to obey God’s Word.
Saph (‘Limitations’and can also speak of a basin or a dish’) – when we live without God we constantly face limitations in a limited world. But with God all things are possible. To those who believe all things are possible. Sibbechai (‘entwine together‘) defeated this giant. When our will and the will of God is entwined, woven together, we defeat the limitations in our lives by doing the will of God.
The giant whose dwelling is in Gob (‘The Pit’) – when you find yourself in a situation you cannot extricate yourself from, you seem to be in a pit. You are trapped. Joseph’s brother’s threw him in a pit and sold him to slave dealers. Jeremiah was cast into a muddy, sewage pit. The king eventually had him dragged out of the pit. The acronym for PIT can also be Prophet-In-Training! The Bible also speaks of the Pit of Hell. Elhanan (‘God is gracious and merciful’) defeated this giant. Sometimes our faith or confession of faith is not enough to save or help us. We need God’s mercy and grace! We boldly approach the throne of Grace to obtain mercy in the time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
The giant whose dwelling was in Gath – where there was a winepress – sometimes you are in a situation where you are so hard pressed that you are almost sweating blood! Jesus sweated blood in Gethsemane and then he prayed, ‘not my will but your will be done!’ The only way out is to surrender to the perfect will of God for your life, whether you understand it or not!
Loyalty is not known until it is tested.
Courage is not seen until it faces a crisis.
Wisdom is not revealed until it solves a problem.
David simply asked those who wanted to join his ranks: are you for me or are you here to further your own cause? If your heart is with me, my heat is with you. (I Chronicles 12) Look at the word ‘PROVISION’: when everyone involved is ‘pro’ or for the same vision, everyone will be provided for! The first church proved that. No one had any lack! No one called anything his own but they willingly shared what they had with each other.
David took 400 men that were in debt, were in distressed and were discontented and turned them into a mighty army that slew giants. Together they built a mighty kingdom to the glory of God.
The reason why Joab is not mentioned in the list of David’s heroes is because he betrayed David 3 times and often disobeyed his orders and took things into his own hands behind David’s back. Disloyalty is the flaw of the original sin that leads to disobedience.
David’s mighty men did not have independent spirits. They did not serve for recognition, but because they recognized something God was doing. They were not devastated when corrected. They did not see serving David as an opportunity to be seen and heard. They were willing to adjust their own plans to fit in with David’s plans. They even anticipated David’s instructions because they knew His heart. They volunteered to serve David. Nothing is as strong as the heart of a volunteer. By serving David they fulfilled their own destiny.