Monday, September 11, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - September 11, 2017

Today's Reading:

John 14:15-31

2 Chronicles 21:1-22:12

Psalm 79

Listen to the Bible







Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading   

In John 14:15, we find a strong reminder that love in an action word. It isn't enough to simply claim to love Yahweh. We are to keep the things He has commanded - this is the demonstration of our love for Him.
John 14:15 - "If ye love Me, keep My Commandments."

Certainly, the things He has Commanded in Scripture are a blessing. But the idea that we don't have to keep what He has commanded anymore, now that Yahshua has died, fails the love test. True, we can't earn our Salvation by keeping the Law. But we cannot truly love God without demonstrating that love through our obedience.

But today, I'd like to take things even one step further - to get a full perspective on what it means to really love God. To do this, I will compare the Christian with a warrior.

Throughout history there have been countless battles, in which innumerable soldiers have fought. But for those who merely fought, doing only the minimum required or just what had to be done, their names are buried in the sands of time. They were present, serving their king, yet they aren’t remembered because they didn’t love their king enough to go beyond the ordinary. 

Yet, going beyond the ordinary is exactly what it takes to be a mighty of warrior of valor. And in all those countless battles, the Mighty Warriors of Valor ARE remembered, to this day – not for WHO they were - so much as for WHAT THEY DID to demonstrate their EXTREME love and commitment to their King.

Where soldiers just show up and do what is required, a Mighty Warrior of Valor goes above and beyond what is merely required, to honor his king.

What does it mean to be a mighty warrior of valor in the Cause of God? What does it take? In King David’s day, there were thousands of soldiers who drew the sword in defense of Israel. From out of all these warriors, thirty-seven of them earned a special place, being remembered in Yahweh’s Word as special, righteous warriors of special valor, whose heroic deeds are immortalized in Scripture. 

Of these 37 warriors of valor, three earned an even greater special distinction, for a specific act of selfless service to their king. God honored these three men, above all the rest, and we remember them as MIGHTY WARRIORS OF VALOR.

So what happened to cause them to be remembered in this way? In the time of King David’s reign, the Philistines had invaded Israel, pitching their encampment in the valley of Rephaim. A garrison of the Philistines had control of Bethlehem. 

King David was in a stronghold, the cave of Adullam. This photo was taken looking out through entrance of a cave in Adullum Grove National Park. In the book of 2 Samuel, David, battle-weary and beleaguered, is recorded as longing for a drink of water from a well by the gate of Bethlehem. This must have been a very special well, with very delicious water, so much so that David was longing for a draught of it.

But even in David’s wish for a drink of this water, there was the sense of how impossible it would be to receive this desire. For Bethlehem was the hold of the enemy (2 Samuel 23:14-15). 
King David didn’t order anyone to get him a drink of water! He was just thinking out loud. All of David’s men would still be wonderful and obedient soldiers, who had done their duty to David, without satisfying the king’s impossible wish. But for three of David’s men, just doing their duty wasn’t enough. They were so loyal to David and so committed to serving him, that carrying out his slightest wishes was something they determined to do. 

But before I finish this part of the story, let me tell you a bit about these three mighty warriors of valor.

Chief among the three was Adino the Eznite. He had already become renowned for lifting his spear against 800 enemy warriors. Adino slew them all single-handedly in one battle, thereby earning himself the roll of leader among the three Captains. The story is found in 2 Samuel 23:8
2 Samuel 23:8   "These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains; the same was Adino the Eznite: he lift up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time."  
Next was Eleazar. In the Name of Yahweh, he had defied the Philistines to their face. And when he was all by himself, he attacked them! He fought with them for so long that his hand became cramped around his sword and he couldn’t turn it loose. The Bible says that Yahweh used him to bring a great victory to Israel that day. It says the other soldiers only returned in time to strip the armor off the fallen enemy and loot their bodies. We find this account in 2 Samuel 23:9-10 
2 Samuel 23:9-10  "And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David, when they defied the Philistines that were there gathered together to battle, and the men of Israel were gone away:  He arose, and smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword: and Yahweh wrought a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to spoil.  
And the third of these Mighty Warriors of Valor was Shammah. Once, while the rest of the army of Israel retreated from the advancing Philistine army, Shammah refused to give ground. He stood alone, in a field of lentils to defend Israel. And Yahweh used him to stop the Philistines in their tracks, without any human help. It’s in 2 Samuel 23:11-12.
2 Samuel 23:11-12  "And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines. But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and Yahweh wrought a great victory."  

These three Mighty Warriors of Valor overheard David’s musing. Maybe they kind of looked at each other across the cave. They knew what each other was thinking. They looked around. No one else seemed to be paying attention to what the king had said. Without a word, they each quietly got up. They retrieved their weapons from where they lay, close at hand. Slowly, they made their way through the crowd of other soldiers all gathered in the cave with David. At last, when they were out of the crowd, their paths joined. No one noticed their leaving, as they disappeared over the crest of the rise.

The Bible tells us that these three “broke through the host (or army) of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate.”  The Bible account is so short that it almost makes this feat seem easy, but, in actuality, it was probably more like this…

Together, Adino, Eleazar and Shammah approached the walled, fortified city of Bethlehem on foot. The Philistines would have seen them coming from a mile away. 

When they were in range, the archers on the walls would have let fly every arrow in their quivers. 
Undaunted by the arrows that rained down upon them, Adino, Eleazar and Shammah brought it on. 
As they neared the wall, the enemy infantry would have swarmed from the gates and fallen upon them with sword and spear. But these three Mighty Men of Valor, under the power of God, met their foe and drove back the incomprehensibly overwhelming hoard! 

At last, they reached the well. Then what had been three swords united against an overwhelming number of enemy soldiers became only two swords, as one of the mighty men was forced to stop fighting long enough to lower a vessel into the cool depths of the well. When he brought up the water vessel and filled his flagon with the delicious well-water, the warrior again joined the intense fighting, careful to insure that he didn’t lose his precious cargo.

By this time, the whole city would have been alerted to the invasion. The three “Mighties would have had to fight their way out of the gates and away from the walls. How far did the Philistine soldiers pursue them? Did they hound them out into the desert, leaving a trail of dead and dying Philistines to mark the three warriors’ path? Or were the Philistines stunned by the carnage wreaked within their walls by so small a fighting force and just happy to see them all leave? We aren’t told. But the Bible does say that they made it back to cave of Adullum in victory. 

As quietly as they had left, they returned. The three warriors came before their beloved king without fanfare and extended the vessel for him to drink. But when David saw the blood that still oozed from crusted battle wounds, when he smelled the death and battle that clung to their clothing, his soul was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the love and devotion these men had demonstrated for Yahweh, Israel and their king. David’s heart was filled with gratitude and humility at such devotion.
2 Samuel 23:16-17  "And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto Yahweh. And he said, Be it far from me, O Yahweh, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? Therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mighty men." 
The highest honor any drink can be given is to be used as a drink offering, poured out in worship of the Almighty. This is the honor David gave to this Bethlehem water, brought to him at such risk and cost, brought by devoted men, under the power of the Almighty, who went WAY beyond the call of duty in their desire to please their king.

Similarly, in Yahweh’s Kingdom there are special Mighty Warriors of Valor, who go above and beyond the normal call of duty. They aren’t content to do only what is asked or expected of them. So great is their love of their King, that they delight in pleasing Him in even the smallest things, doing things which most would find unnecessary.

Maybe instead of fussing about how much we don't want to do what God has commanded, we need to seek a real love relationship - we need to pray for a love for God that is even greater than those three mighty warriors had for king David! That kind of love is not fussing about the king's commands. In fact, that kind of love is great enough that the King's slightest pleasure is considered. Serving Him is a great delight. Such love pursues the Heart of God. 

Maybe that's why David was called a "man after God's Own Heart." Could it be that he loved and served God the way his mighty men loved and served him?