In I Chronicles 11:22-25, we read about three serious problems one man faced. Scripture is both practical and helpful and in this passage weíll see how God enabled a man named Benaiah to deal with a problem lion and a couple other things. We may not have to face a lion, but weíll all face serious problems of our own in some way at some time.
1 Chronicles 11:22-25. 22: ďBenaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, who had done many acts; he slew two lionlike men of Moab: also he went down and slew a lion in a pit in a snowy day. 23: And he slew an Egyptian, a man of great stature, five cubits high; and in the Egyptian's hand was a spear like a weaver's beam; and he went down to him with a staff, and plucked the spear out of the Egyptian's hand, and slew him with his own spear. 24: These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and had the name among the three mighties. 25: Behold, he was honourable among the thirty, but attained not to the first three: and David set him over his guard.Ē
David was a very young man when God promised him he would be king over all Israel, but the years preceding his kingship were spent mostly in escaping from Saul, who was king at that time. Saul wanted to kill David to assure that his own son would be the next king of Israel. Over the course of several years David was joined by a number of people, not always those of his own nation, who wanted him to be king of Israel. This passage is part of the account of some of the mighty and loyal warriors that God sent to join David in that struggle.
Two groups of men are mentioned in this chapter, the 30, and the 3. The 3 were leaders of Davidís armed forces who were in hiding with David and were loyal to him. The other band of 30 men were the commanders of various divisions of Davidís military. Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, was prominent among the thirty and was the captain of David's bodyguard.
That was a position of honor and he held that position because he was known for three particular heroic deeds. First, he killed "two lion-like men of Moab." No one knows what lion-like men were but I suppose they were fierce looking and fearless warriors, and almost like animals in their savage way of fighting. 1 Chronicles 12:8 does mention warriors from the tribe of Gad with lion-like faces. Whatever they were, they were part of the military forces of Israelís enemy, Moab. Benaiah killed two of them and was considered a mighty man because of that.
Another time, Benaiah went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. Now if you force any member of the cat family into a corner, regardless of size, you have trouble. They have extremely sharp things on all four corners and on the front end, and they wonít hesitate to use them to defend themselves. Weíll come back to that incident a little later.
The third exceptionally brave thing that Benaiah did was kill an Egyptian warrior who was five cubits tall, or about seven and a half feet, and carried a spear the size of a weaverís beam.
Before a professional basketball game several years ago, I went down on the floor and walked up to Dan Issel, the hall of fame center for the Denver NBA team. He was standing there visiting with Scott Wedman, a guard for the Boston Celtics who stood 6-8 and weighed about 240.
Mr. Issel stands almost seven feet tall and weighs about 290 pounds and without so much as an ounce of fat on him. I stand about 6-3 and I cast a very narrow shadow.
These men looked like mountains to me. I didnít feel small, I felt tiny!
I donít know what size Benaiah was, probably not over 5-8, but that Egyptian was 7-1/2 feet tall!
Iíve seen other 7 footers but Iíve never seen, in person that is, a man who looked as big to me as Mr. Issel. They called him ďThe Horse.Ē Fortunately, both these men were friendly and gentle souls and neither one of them had a spear like a weaverís beam, at least not with them.
This 7-1/2 foot tall Egyptian warrior, obviously a hired mercenary, did have a spear with him like a weaver's beam. And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada met this huge man with this huge spear, and somehow knocked the spear out of the Egyptian's hand with a stick and then killed the giant with his own spear. No wonder he was famous in Israel as a man of valor.
Now this is all very interesting, but what on earth does it have to do with you and me? Why is this recorded in the Bible? Surely there are more important things to record than Benaiahís battles.
This is one of the great things about Scripture. Paul tells us in Romans 15:4a ďFor whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,Ē These Bible stories arenít just recorded for our entertainment. They have meaning and purpose that can be applied to us.
For instance, take these three enemies that Benaiah overcame, the lion, the Egyptian, and the Moabite. Theyíre all used in Scripture as types, or symbols, of the enemies of Godís people.
In verse 22, we read "Benaiah smote two lion like men of Moab." The Moabites lived on the eastern border of Israel and were related to the Israelites. In Genesis, after Lot fled from Sodom, he and his two virgin daughters hid in a cave. Those girls got their father drunk and he had relations with them while he was drunk and each girl produced a son by those unions. One boy was named Ammon and the other Moab. By the way, the present-day capital city of Jordan is named for Ammon. Lot was Abrahamís nephew so the Ammonites and the Moabites were closely related to the Israelites but wherever you read of them in Scripture, they were always at enmity with Godís people, Israel.
This is true throughout the Old Testament, and it can be used as a picture of something that is true of us. The believer has a close relative that is our enemy. In the New Testament itís called "the flesh." Itís part of us, and, like a poor relative, we canít get rid of it. It lives in the back room of the house of our life, just like Moab lived next door to Israel. So Moab is a picture of the flesh throughout Scripture.
Next we read "And he slew an Egyptian." Throughout the Old Testament, Egypt is a picture of the enemies of Godís people.
Egypt was the leading nation of the world at this time in history and had huge armies that were for hire by other countries. She had tremendous temples, her pharaohs were the epitome of pomp and circumstance. Her libraries were full of accumulated wisdom. Itís a little known fact that Egypt even had flush toilets at this time. The modern world didnít get them until a Frenchman named John Crapper re-invented the flush toilet several centuries ago.
When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He was taken up on a high mountain and shown all the kingdoms of the earth, with all their power and glory. That is what is symbolized by Egypt, the temptations provided by the earthly kingdoms with all their power and glory.
Shortly after God freed the Children of Israel from Egyptian bondage, on the 15th day of the 2nd month after they left Egypt, they wanted to return to Egypt.
They had already forgotten the bondage, the slavery, the cruelty, the drowning of their male babies, the heartache and tears of Egypt. But they remembered the leeks and onions, and the garlic, the melons and the fish.
Egypt, in Old Testament Scripture, is a picture of the world and its temptations. Thatís why this incident of Benaiah overcoming a man who represents the carnal world is recorded here.
Going back to the lion incident, Iím sure you know what the lion symbolizes in Scripture. Peter tells us outright: 1 Peter 5:8 ďyour adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.Ē Satan is an enemy like a lion. He has tremendous majesty and authority and power in this world, and he is always looking for someone to master, Peter calls it "seeking whom he may devour."
Sometime or another, if youíre a Christian, Iím sure youíve been in a situation where Satanís temptations had you cornered in a slippery pit with a hungry lion. All believers have these enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil, and weíve all felt pressure from them.
Our relative, the flesh, the Moabite in us, sneaks up on us when weíre least aware and we feel the attractiveness of the world telling us weíre missing out on something. Thatís when our lion or our Egyptian will attack. When the Israelites longed to go back to Egypt, Satan made sure they forgot the suffering and only remembered the good things they had there.
Scripture likens Satan to a roaring lion. The lion is called the king of beasts because itís a powerful animal. It can smash the human skull with one blow of itís paw. Benaiah faced his lion at close quarters under the most impossible of conditions.
Sooner or later, every Christian has a lion to face. It may be a crippling accident, or a disease, or a heart attack, or cancer. Maybe one of your kids has caused you a bitter disappointment. It could be a loved one you depended on is taken and youíre left alone. It may be financial problems. Whatever it is, thatís the lion in your life and you have to face it.
Iím sure all of you, particularly if youíre as "chronologically gifted" as I am, have had terrible thing happen and found no way out but to face it. You canít do like a recent TV ad suggests; when you make a boo boo, just book an airplane flight, take a vacation and get away from it, put it all on a Mastercharge. In the real world, thereís not a thing you can do but face up to it.
Thatís what Benaiah had to do, meet this lion in a pit on a snowy day. If I had to fight a lion, the one place I donít want to fight is in a confined area where thereís no way to escape. Iíd want to be where I could take certain steps, preferably long fast ones!
The whole focus of this story is that Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was able to kill this lion, the Egyptian, and the two lion like Moabites. It doesnít tell us how, it just tells he did it.
Here again is the wonder of the Scriptures. Weíre told, in Proverbs 25:2, ďIt is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.Ē
God never tells us something like this without putting the answer in there for us to find. And this is exactly what He has done here. He has hidden certain clues in od came. Godís grace is shown in the fact that Methuselah was the oldest man who ever lived! For 969 years, God held off destroying the un-believers. But when Methuselah died, the flood came.
Weíre not left out in this name changing. God has a new name for each believer that only He knows at present. Itís reserved for us the moment we get saved and weíll receive it when we get to heaven and Iím sure that name will have a wonderful meaning for us.
What does the name "Benaiah the son of Jehoiada" mean? Benaiah is mentioned often in Scripture, and, with only one or two exceptions, itís listed as "Benaiah the son of Jehoiada." So his father's name is important too. Take the meaning of those two names, in the order of seniority, and you get the secret of how to kill your lion on a snowy day.
Jehoiada means "God knows," and Benaiah means "God builds." Those two truths are how to kill your lion, the worst possible foe, in the worst possible place, under the worst possible conditions. Itís by resting on the facts that ďGod knows,Ē you and ďGod buildsĒ for you.
God knows where you are. He chose that place for you. Thatís revealed in Scripture. God put you there, even if itís in a pit with a lion, and He knows all about you. Jesus said that the hairs of your head are numbered. He knows what youíre going through, and He brought it about and Heíll see you through it, whatever it may be. Romans 8:28. ďAnd we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.Ē
What makes this so precious is that God not only knows what weíre going through, He feels what we feel. One of the most comforting things is to realize that when you are down in a pit, all alone with a irritated lion for company, God knows.
The writer of Hebrews tells us, ďFor we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities;Ē Hebrews 4:15a. God doesnít say, "Oh, don't bother me with your little troubles, Iíve got a whole universe to run, in the scope of that, what difference do your little problems make?" Hebrews 4:15b. says we have One who ďwas in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin.Ē God, in the Person of His Son, Jesus, has been where we are now and He knows how we feel, and He cares---a lot.
God has a purpose for us. He knows what is happening and is using it to work toward an end even though we might not see it at the time. Thatís a glorious thing, isn't it?
In spite of all that is recorded of Paul's heartaches and sorrow and pain and suffering, he said, ďThis light affliction is but for a moment, and is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;" 2 Corinthians 4:17. Then he wrote, "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us," Romans 8:18.
When we go through heartaches, problems, and tribulation, the believer always emerges the better for it when we acknowledge that we are in God's hands.
In the book of Esther, in a time of great trouble for Godís people, Mordecai told Queen Esther ďwho knows whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?Ē And God used Esther to save the whole Nation of Israel.
Itís only by the power of God that weíre able to do anything! The believer can say, "Iím here by God's appointment, Iím here in His keeping, Iím under His training, and here for His time."
God gives the believer the Holy Spirit to indwell us and aid and comfort us in all that we encounter in this world. And thatís how weíre able to kill our lion in a pit on a snowy day.
God is using us to build. Thatís the whole point. Thatís the secret of survival, to apply the meanings of the names of Jehoiada and Benaiah to ourselves, ďGod knows,Ē you, and ďGod builds,Ē for you.