I thought it a peculiar obit: “He went down and struck a lion in a pit on a day the snow had fallen. And he struck down an Egyptian, a handsome (impressive) man”—2 Sam. 23:20-21.
Now understand—I usually do my morning devos curled up in my chair with cup of coffee and simple Bible translation—not with a huge study Bible or expository reference. So this cursory reading about one of David’s mighty men was a bit befuddling.
I could see the mention of Adino’s slewing of eight hundred at a time, or Eleazar’s perseverance in wielding his sword, in spite of weariness. And I marked the verse about Shammah’s taking his stand alone in a plot of lentils, to think about another time.
But, it was the expression, “On a day the snow had fallen,” that caught my attention. Why on earth had the Lord chosen to have it included in the account of Benaiah’s life? It sounded so lyrical, lovely— fat wet snowflakes and glittery snow covered field.
Except it was falling in a pit. Probably a cold, slippery, treacherous pit, occupied by an angry, trapped lion, no less. Just about the worst-case scenario for an encounter with a beast that could crush your skull with a swipe of his paw. For whatever reason, Benaiah went down in, apparently voluntarily, and killed the lion.
And that handsome Egyptian? Turns out it wasn’t his George Clooney looks the writer was impressed with, but his stature. He was about eight-feet tall and wielded a spear as big as a weaver’s beam. I’m guessing Benaiah, armed with a staff, reached as high as his abs. Undaunted, this mighty man of valor “snatched the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear”—1 Chronicles 11:23.
I have to admit, sometimes when I read these Old Testament stories, I feel like I am reading something out of Tolkien. And I wonder what they have to do with me today, in my cozy house in South Carolina, where I am unlikely to encounter a lion or a handsome Egyptian—at least one eight-feet tall.
The clues come with other things I read about Benaiah. David put this “doer of good deeds,” this “valiant man,” in charge of his bodyguard. I know about David’s heart for God, and I suspect he wouldn’t just want a big bouncer to head up his protection. He would want a loyal man, a God-fearing man, a steadfast, trustworthy, honorable one by his side.
My battles are with a different kind of lion. Sometimes it looks like finances, sometimes scary health issues, sometimes insecurity and weakness. My lions don’t usually come at convenient times or places either.
But now I understand. And it’s from the example of that kind of man—the one whose name means, “Yahweh builds,” the one who is ready to do battle with the mightiest of foes, in a pit on a day the snow has fallen—that I can take courage.
Blessings friends as August gives way to the lovely September with its warm, yellow light and lingering days, and my daughter’s wedding!