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Behind the Scene Saint – Barzillai


Barzillai is not familiar to most Bible students.  We are first introduced to him when he is an older man in his eighties, having obviously aged gracefully.  This man of God did not succumb to the rocking chair syndrome, but maintained an attitude of service and self sacrifice to his God and to his fellow men.   Unlike some senior saints, Barzillai did not assertain the thought of retirement, instead he committed himself unto keeping on keeping on, one step at a time in his life’s journey.  Old age does not necessarily bring with it the frailties of mind and body which prohibit purposeful avenues of service.  Barzillai as we will learn, took advantage of the opportunities to be used by God in the lives of others in his old age.

The name Barzillai comes from the Hebrew meaning ‘made of iron.’  He was a wealthy man from Gilead who possessed influence, land, money and homes.  He was a generous benefactor who chose to help others when he saw a need.  These deeds of kindness were done out of  love, without expectation of reward or recompense.  What an example to all of God’s people who have the ability to meet the tangible needs of others.  His story begins to unfold in 2 Samuel 17:27.

King David had taken refuge in Mahanaim to rest and regroup from the weariness of fleeing the wrath of Absalom.  His entourage was more than likely hungry, tired, ailing, and discouraged.  His women and children, having lived the luxurious Palace life were not accustom to the rugged life in which they now existed.  Barzillai, who dwelt in that area, discerned that David was a man of quality and he honored the character that David exhibited.  Seeing the people were in need, we read in verses 28 and 29 of 2 Samuel 17, a list of all of the provisions that Barzillai and his two friends bestowed upon David and his entire camp.  They not only provided the necessities but also a few niceties also.  Barzillai did not have to be asked, he saw the need and he met that need.  This man was not a ‘senior hoarder’, desiring to stockpile his wealth for himself and his heirs.  He sacrificially gave, possibly knowing that it was from God whom his wealth originated.   Barzillai was not concerned about the personal danger involved in helping David; had Absalom been victorious in becoming king, Barzillai would have been slain for aiding David.  Fear had no place in the heart of Barzillai.  He obviously won a place in King David’s heart.

We see that a bond did seem to develop between David, and his benefactor. Barzillai allied himself with the King even though he had no political ties.  History records that the benevolence of Barzillai continued toward David.  The wisdom that David most likely received from Barzillai was an added benefit from this providential relationship.  David and his men had a need and God used Barzillai to meet that need.

We cannot out give God!  Although folks like Barzillai seek no reward or praise for their acts of benevolence, it is not surprising that the Lord does allow special honor to be offered to those who give out of their abundance as well as those who give sacrificially.  Barzillai was not an exception.  God records in 2 Samuel 19: 31-40 that when David returns to Jerusalem, that he invites Barzillai to come with him.  What a golden opportunity, to live in the Palace of the King!  David was so full of gratitude that he wanted to provide for Barzillai in his old age.   This was not a flippant invitation.  David wanted to honor his friend.  Alas, even though the pomp and circumstance of the palace was most appealing, it was not a lifestyle in which Barzillai would be comfortable.  You see, Barzillai was used to serving, not being served.  He saw that his impaired hearing would not be able to enjoy the music of the harp; his diminished taste buds could not enjoy the delicacies of the Kinds table.  In addition,  his mind was failing and sound advice would be found wanting.  Barzillai did not want to become a burden to the King.

Barzillai provided one last gift to King David.  He offered his son Chimham to go in his place.  The King accepted this sacrificial gift of his friend and before he left, David kissed Barzillai and blessed him, and returned him to his own place.  David’s fondness of Barzallai was so great that we find in 1 Kings 2: 7 that on his death bed he charges Solomon to shew kindness unto the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be of those who eat at thy table.

What a plethora of lessons one can learn from the life of this Senior Saint.  Old age should be perceived as a golden opportunity to use our time and talents wisely for the Lord.  Let us press toward the prize of the “well done thou good and faithful servant” when we stand before the Lord.

 

Ackn:  Article inspired by Pastor Matt

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Behind the Scene Servant – Benaiah


In His infinite wisdom, God designed man in such a way that each one has a specific genetic makeup to perform certain tasks with the skills with which the Creator has blessed.  Some are endowed with outstanding leadership abilities, while others perform superbly in the role as ‘followers’.  There are those who are brainy in mathematics and others whose curiosity lends them to be inventors who have provided the world with notable technology.  Perhaps the greatest gift and calling that the Lord has bestowed is men who are soldiers of the Cross, not only in preaching the Word, but also in defending the faith with military skills.  Scripture is full of men who are listed among God’s “the Few, The Proud. and the Brave”.  Indeed, there are some who because of their military accomplishments are esteemed with the “Special Forces” of the Lord’s ‘Marine Corps’.   Allow me to introduce to you the leader of one of God’s special forces units, a man by the name of Benaiah.

We begin in 2 Samuel 23: 20 where we learn that Benaiah, a man from the tribe of Ephraim, was the son of Jehoiada from Kabzeel; a priest and a valiant man.  There does not seem to be any record of Benaiah having a wife.  He came from a Godly heritage through not only his father, but also his grandfather.  These men were great leaders because they were skilled in following the commands of their authority.  Whether it be Jehovah or their earthly king, they submitted willingly and loyally to their authorities.  These men did not seek their own, they did not ‘fight for the microphone’; they just did their job and did it well.

Benaiah was  skilled in combat performance. It was not a surprise that his accomplishments soon gained the attention of King David.  Stories of Benaiah killing two very ferocious ‘lion-like’ men of Moab must have raised the eyebrow of the king, but perhaps not as much as his slaying of a 7 foot tall, muscle-bound Egyptian who carried an enormous 15 pound spear.  This spear is described as a weavers beam in 1 Chronicles 11, and Benaiah was only armed with a staff.  The spear was wrenched from the Egyptians hand by Benaiah, whereby he was slain. Benaiah’s  obvious lack of fear must have made an impression upon King David. especially when he heard that Benaiah had chased a lion into a pit during the snowy winter and then jumped into the pit himself and slew the beast.

David set Benaiah over his guard.  Although he was not one of David’s top three men, Benaiah fulfilled his responsibilities with reverence and faithfulness.  Because of their tremendous courage and bravery, King David chose 30 special warriors to be an elite force and placed Beniah as the leader.  It is recorded that at one time Benaiah had command over 24,000 men. The testimony of his devotion to God and to his king was so widely known that when Adonijah attempted to seize the throne from David, he did not bother to consult with Benaiah.

While on his death bed, King David learned of Adonijahs’ plot to seize the kingship and we read in 1 Kings 1:32, that he summoned Zadok, Nathan and Benaiah, the Priest, the Prophet and the Patriot.  Benaiah was David’s trusted and loyal soldier to the end.   Interestingly, David’s inner circle of the “three’ valiant men are not listed in this meeting.  Perhaps they were no longer, or perhaps Benaiah had ‘arrived’, so to speak.

Once Solomon was crowned King, he was blessed with the loyalty of Benaiah.  Without hesitation, Benaiah obeyed the orders to slay the leaders of the insurrection, Joab and Adonijah.  He later became the Commander of Solomon’s army.  Benaiah was a God fearing man, a warrior who lived life to the fullest, never complaining, never compromising or backing down in the face of adversity.  He was a man’s man.  His bravery and fighting skills earned him his honor  and a place in the Holy Writ as one of God’s behind the scene servants.

 

FYI:

Acknowledgment to Pastor Andy Douglas for his inspiration that led to the writing of this artile.

Women in the Word – Michal


The fate of single women in Bible times was often left in the hands of the father.  Arranged marriages were commonplace and were often used as a way to obtain power, prestige or provision.  Love or romantic feelings were not considered, rather, the need of the father or the husband was the determining factor.  Sometimes there were situations where one or both of the betrothed parties actually did have affections for each other.  Although this was not the norm, our story is about a woman who was passionately in love with her promised husband.  Her life was going to be one of great joy and happiness, till death do them part.  Sadly, through the events of others, she is forced into making some choices which changed her outlook on life,  Her fairy tale existence turns into a bitter, sorrowful, lonely existence. Come with me as we learn what the Lord has to share with us, starting in 1 Samuel 14:49.

Michal was the youngest daughter of King Saul and his wife Ahinoam, from the tribe of Benjamin. Commentators record that she was very beautiful and lusted by all men who saw her.  She had an older sister, Merab, whom had originally been promised to David, but instead was given to another.  Her brother, Jonathon was a beloved friend of David.  When Saul learned that Michal loved David, he arranged for her to marry David, taking advantage of an opportunity to use her as a snare in arranging David’s death.   Saul was insanely jealous of David and saw him as a threat to his kingship.

Whether Michal was aware of her fathers deceitful plan, the Bible does not state.  Saul did not request a dowry for his daughter; instead the conniving King Saul demanded the foreskins of 100 Philistines.   Knowing that the Philistines would be somewhat reluctant to part with their foreskins, Saul knew that there would be an excellent chance that David would be killed by the hand of the enemy.   David was apparently aware of Saul’s scheme and countered the kings request by obtaining 200 foreskins.  What a despicable dowry for a kings daughter, however,  Michal was passionately in love with David, with a devotion recognized by being the only woman in the Bible who was described a loving a man.    Although Michal was excited about marrying David, the Bible does not indicate that David was in love with her; to him,  marrying Michal was too good of an opportunity to pass up.  1 Samuel 18:17-28

Michal’s emotional desire for David was not necessarily a genuine heart-felt love.  She was most assuredly infatuated with his charismatic personality and probably swooned over his good looks.  The excitement of David being a national hero which would provide political stature as well as the prestige of being married to the next king, was alluring for sure.  In the beginning it was most assuredly a storybook wedding for her.  But then life for Michal took an unanticipated detour.

Michal’s devotion to David was exemplified when she helped him escape her father’s fervent desire to have him killed.   Her loyalty to David over her father led her to help David escaped by lowering him out of the window.  She then proceeded to deceive her father by faking David to be ill.  Saul was beside himself.  His own daughter had turned against him! 1 Samuel 19: 11-17

Her beloved husband was now a fugitive.  Months passed. lonely months; perhaps years, and David had not sent for her.   She may have reasoned in her heart that her presence would be too distracting and David would be concerned for her safety.   Heartbreaking news began to arrive at the palace.  David had taken another wife, and then another one.   How devastating!  How could he?   Only a woman who has been lured into the excitement of a romance and then………………….swoosh, it’s gone, can fully understand the emotional trauma associated with such abandonment.  The emotions of love and anger consume one’s very being.

After a period of time, Saul decided to marry Michal off to Phalti, a trusted friend.  1 Samuel 25:44  It seems to have been a mutually happy arrangement and Michal’s bitterness and lingering affections for David began to fade.  Her life had stability and purpose once again………………..and once again,  another life changing event begins to take shape.

In 2 Samuel:3:13-16, David requires as part of a league agreement, that Michal be returned to him.  Having her in his harem would bolster his claim to the throne.  He sent messengers  to the house of Phaltiel to fetch her.  Michal begged to stay with her husband.    This was indeed a tear-jerking event, so much so that Michal’s husband followed the entourage, hoping to rescue his wife, but was ordered to return to his home.  Understandably, Michal was a tad bit upset.

Relations between David and Michal were strained to say the least.  It would be quite likely that she rejected any amorous advances that he made.  She was a prisoner in the harem of a man whom she despised.  One day she was watching David making what she considered to be a fool of himself. immodestly dressed in public, dancing and singing.   Some commentators believe that he even exposed himself either intentionally or unintentionally.  He was celebrating because  the Ark of the Covenant had been brought inside the wall of Jerusalem.  Michal went out to meet David and all of the pent up anger came pouring out of her bitter heart as she berated him for not acting like a King.   2 Samuel 6: 20-23, relates this event and the subsequent rebuke which David gave her.    Such a sad ending to the life of a woman who never fulfilled her vocation as a helpmeet to her husband.  She was never to be brought into the bed chamber of King David again, and she died childless.

Neither the Bible nor historical records indicate that Michal believed in David’s God.  Even though she was an Israelite there is no indication that she sought wisdom or help from the Lord God Jehovah.  Perhaps her life would have turned out differently……………………….