Written by: Thomas Kilian, Chaplain
"Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion… And David put him in charge of his bodyguard.” - 2 Samuel 23:20, 23b
Benaiah is a fighter who goes down into a pit to kill a lion. The question all of us have is: “Why?” Why would you not leave the lion there if the lion is already trapped in the pit? It would appear the lion would be disabled from attacking and, therefore, not a threat to human life. But we are not told. Benaiah saw the trapped lion as an immediate threat. Did the lion kill some farmer’s cattle? Did the lion attack a person? We are told that Benaiah went down into the pit, but not the reason.
What was Benaiah willing to go into the pit with as a weapon? Was it a cub? Perhaps a sword? A big knife, like a dagger? Whatever it was, he chose to kill the lion in close proximity to it, therefore ruling out the probability of using a bow and arrow.
The lion is in a pit, so it is not that Benaiah chased him there. He finds the lion in the pit. And he kills the lion. Why? What is the significance of a lion in a pit? A lion can not get out of the pit if it is in a pit! It’s a snowy day, so it makes sense why the lion fell into the pit.
Why would anyone in their right mind jump into a pit with a lion? There is nothing courageous about jumping into a pit with a lion unless there is pending danger. So what is the risk of this situation? Well, if the lion fell into the pit, someone else could fall into the pit. What would happen then when someone falls into the paws of a 250-kilogram lion? Maybe Benaiah discerns this possible situation and kills the lion to protect people.
How do we know that this guess is a probable one?
In the last verse, we are told how “David put him in charge of his bodyguard.” What does a bodyguard do? Guard’s people. Benaiah took extraordinary measures to protect others, so David's actions said, “Hey, I want that guy to protect my protectors!”
Every story that is found excellent says something in what it leaves out--rather than in what is written. Benaiah had to go down into the pit for a good reason, but the weapon of choice is not in the description--it is left unknown.
This historical report asks us, “Are we willing to go down into the pit to protect others? A sword or something else?"
Listening to what is not told, Benaiah, we think, goes down into the pit with his most potent weapon--faith!
In every biblical account, physical examples have spiritual applications.
King David kills lions. Benaiah kills a lion. What’s the significance of a lion? Consider 1 Peter 5:8...
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
Satan is compared to a lion. What will he eat? Not flesh, not bone, but our faith. Satan is upset right now, and he wants to eat your faith. If he can eat your faith, he does not care about what else you do. So, we need to protect others from spiritual dangers. See, nobody goes into a fight drunk, sleepy, or unprepared.
The most common danger to guard against is the temptation to be distracted. It is harder to resist than ever. The smartphone, tablet, and internet are new challenges to a focused faith. If any enjoyment ever takes up your love for prayer, your Bible, and your awareness of others, you are abusing this world--abusing its opportunities.
Youths are in danger of distraction more than ever. We will have kids piling into churches to give affection to Jesus through their learning of Him and their encounter with His word. The danger is how Satan is on the prowl. He wants to eat the faith of our kids. He could care less that we have church service or an outreach if he can have our kid's faith. One of the ways he does this is by distraction. There is a distraction because of phones, and their social fears will detach them from being with God's work. Our job is to kill the lion... Kill the distractions first by setting a good example.
The second danger is that of ingratitude. We know how entitled many are in our growing world, which leads to being ungrateful. But for the Christian leader, the real danger may be found in nostalgia. It is possible to sin against God and damper ministry by failing to remember the past correctly. It is not a bad thing to have fond memories of the past. It would be unhealthy and hazardous, however, to be continually discouraged by the mindset that "fruitful times of the church are never going to come again." This is a kind of paralyzing fear and ungratefulness. It is unhealthy and unspiritual. The past should not be used as fuel for regret and disappointment.
The positive use of the past that God ordained is that of gratitude. Listen to the following passages of God's Word:
“Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.” - Psalm 107:31
“He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate.” - Psalm 111:4
“Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered,” - 1 Chronicles 16:12
"I will remember the works of the LORD; yes, I will remember Your wonders of old. I will reflect on all You have done and ponder Your mighty deeds.” - Psalm 77:11-12
"Lion chasers" (the mature, vigorous Christians) are more afraid of missing God-ordained opportunities than the "lion" itself. They know that when they fail to step out in faith and kill lions, God is robbed of the glory that rightfully belongs to Him, and others could suffer.
Be a lion chaser!