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God’s Word for You

1 Chronicles 11:10-14 The Mighty Men

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, November 22, 2023

10 These were the leaders of David’s mighty men—who built up strong support for his kingdom all throughout Israel, to extend it over the whole land, according to the word of the LORD about Israel.  11 This is the list of David’s mighty men: Jashobeam, son of Hakmoni, chief of the Thirty. He brandished his spear against three hundred men in a single encounter and killed them.

We come now to David’s mighty men, the gaborim in Hebrew. We are told that in general, they gave the king “strong support” for his kingdom. They were like knights in the Middle Ages, or perhaps loosely connected to cabinet officials in our government today. They did not always have direct authority over a region, but they helped show the king’s strength and resolve. The people saw them and were encouraged by their presence. We get the idea from this passage that, building up support, they were there to answer questions. Also, David’s influence and protection spread over the whole kingdom, which had not been the case in the days of the Judges nor even really in the days of King Saul.

There were two groups of these mighty men. There was a larger group known as the Thirty (which may have had more or less than thirty men at any given time), and a smaller group known as the Three. The difference was probably more about their history and loyalty to David. The Three were seemingly the heads or the outstanding members of David’s original band of mercenaries. The Thirty was the name of the whole group later on.

Chief of the Thirty, and probably responsible for looking after the others and communicating David’s orders to them, was Jashobeam. In 2 Samuel he is called Josheb-Basshebbeth. His greatest achievement, the one everyone knew about, was when he “brandished” (wielded with special talent) his spear against a huge enemy force. In 2 Samuel 23:8 this number is given as “eight hundred” (shemonah meoth). But here is it three hundred (shelosh meoth). Perhaps the presence of the numbers 3 and 30 earlier in the verse led a copyist to make an error. Errors with numerals are fairly common in handmade copies of manuscripts, like the spelling of proper names. The discrepancy should not distract us from the fact: His victory was God’s victory, as we will see in verse 14 below.

12 After him was Eleazar son of Dodo the Ahohite, one of the Three mighty men. 13 He was with David at Pas Dammim, a place where there was a field full of barley. When the Philistines were gathered there for battle, the people were running to escape from the Philistines. 14 But David and he took their stand in the middle of the field. They defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the LORD brought about a great victory.

Eleazer was part of the inner circle for David, the Three. His exploit leaves us wondering, did this association go all the way back to David’s victory over Goliath? Pas Dammim or Ephes Dammim was the place where the Philistines camped on the southern side of the Valley of Elah, where David fought Goliath (1 Samuel 17:1). The name means “The Edge of Blood (or Bloodshed).” There is no other battle mentioned at that place. Unless this is another battle, it could well be that Eleazar was with or near David when he killed Goliath with a stone from his sling and then cut the giant’s head off with his own sword. Did Eleazar lead the charge that is described in 1 Samuel 17:52-53?

Listen again to the end of verse 14: “The Lord brought about a great victory.” In all of David’s victories, the result was the same: “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!” (Psalm 118:15). Consider for a moment why it is important to hear preaching about sin. When our sins are uncovered by the preaching of the law, the gospel soothes our aching conscience and we are assured of our forgiveness in Jesus. The more we are made aware of our weakness and our sin, the more we take refuge in Jesus.

We may not be mighty heroes like David’s band of warriors, but God still uses us, each of us, to build up strong support for his kingdom wherever we are, wherever we go. If “fortune brings in some boats that are not steered,” we still see the hand of God at work. If a Christian’s way of life steers the wayward into the port of the church to hear the word of Christ, then even more clearly is the hand of God at work through us!

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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