Lists of names are typically not very exciting in the Bible. Throughout the Old and New Testament, we come across genealogies and lists of names that do not mean much to us at all. 2 Samuel 23, however, is an exception to that rule as far as I’m concerned. The list of David’s mighty men we find in that chapter speaks volumes about who David was and how the men closest to him defined his destiny.
I love David and enjoy talking about his passion for God, his exploits, and how God blessed him. But what about Heleb son of Baanah the Netophahite or Benaiah son of Jehoiada? Now I can hear you saying, “who do you say? I’ve never heard of those people!” Heleb and Benaiah were just two of the mighty men listed in 2 Samuel 23 as men who stayed by David’s side through thick and thin and made a name for themselves through the courage and valour they displayed. I am convinced that the story of David would have turned out very differently without these 37 mighty men in his life.
Abishai, Benaiah, Josheb-basshebeth, Shammah – these and many more are names of men worth mentioning in the context of David’s life, successes, and exploits. Too often is David perceived as one brilliant, passionate, and godly man who single-handedly did what he did. No leader stands by himself, and David is no exception. I’m sure many of these men joined him back in the wilderness days, the time when David ran from Saul. Many of these men must have been there when David killed Goliath, when he spared Saul’s life, when he wept for his son Absalom…they went through everything together. Study the life of David and you will quickly see that these men had lots of chances to abandon David – but they didn’t. No, the book of Samuel would have read differently without these mighty men.
We all need mighty men. Every leader needs men in his life that will stand by him, protect him, and fight for him through thick and thin. Nobody can do what God has called them to do alone and by himself. We all need our Abishais, our Benaiahs and our Josheb-basshebeths. We will not make it to our destination without them. We need their courage, valiance, warnings, reminders, and prayers.
One final name appears in that list of valiant men, a name that serves as a severe warning: Uriah the Hittite. Uriah was the husband of Bathsheba, the woman David slept with and impregnated. We do well to remember that what many refer to as ‘David’s great sin’ was committed when he was away from his mighty men when he should have been fighting by their side. No matter how great, strong, popular, godly, or amazing we are – we all need mighty men, just like David did. Ignoring that fact could have dire consequences.