David's Mighty Men - Part I
““These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains; the same was Adino the Eznite: he lifted up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time. And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David, when they defied the Philistines that were there gathered together to battle, and the men of Israel were gone away: He arose, and smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword: and the LORD wrought a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to spoil. And after him was Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentils: and the people fled from the Philistines. But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory.” — II Samuel 23:8-11
I believe this passage about David and his mighty men holds a great lesson for all of us.
There’s never been anyone quite like David. He had a most unusual anointing. He was anointed as a warrior and also anointed as a musician and singer—the sweet singer of Israel. You don’t see that combination very often, if ever.
But most important of all is that through his family, the Messiah, the Redeemer of the ages, would come. I want to say that again because it’s tremendously significant: David’s family brought forth the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
When young David slew Goliath, the Bible says, “the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick. And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (I Sam. 18:6-7).
Yet despite the fact that David had saved Israel from Philistinian domination and being enslaved to the Philistines, in a short period of time, Saul turned against David.
King Saul had stood powerless before the Philistinian enemy when a shepherd boy stepped forth and gave him the victory. David had shown such great qualities that the people reckoned him at ten times Saul’s worth, which did not sit well at all with the king. So for the next fifteen years, Saul would try to kill David.
David’s Lowest Point
The problem grew so severe that for a period of sixteen months, David lost his faith. The Scripture says: “And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand.” (I Sam. 27:1).
Just a short time before, David had remonstrated that the Lord would deliver him, but now, instead of faith, David resorts to fear. He had forgotten that the Lord had said he would be king, which meant that Saul could not kill him, irrespective as to what the situation may have looked like. But listen again to what David said in his heart: “There is nothing better for me than I should speedily escape into the hands of the Philistines.”
Friend, there is no halfway house between fellowship with God and fellowship with the Philistine. David’s decision to make the Philistines a refuge meant dwelling in the midst of them and declaring himself ready to fight with them against the people of God. And no believer delights to find himself in this position.
“And the time that David dwelt in the country of the Philistines was a full year and four months” (I Sam. 27:7). In other words, David was sixteen months out of the will of God and allowing fear to drive him to this particular place and position. This was perhaps the lowest point in David’s life. It would seem he would profess himself ready and eager to fight against God’s beloved people and help Satan destroy them. He told many lies to Achish, the king of the Philistines, and David’s conduct was anything but godly. For sixteen months, he robbed and slaughtered—not the people of God; it was enemies, but it was the wrong way.
It should always be remembered that failure, despite the grace of God, always and without exception carries with it its own punishment—even more in the life of one who has been grandly touched by the Holy Spirit. Too often Christendom reads only perfection into the life of God’s champion, but they do so by ignoring the Word of God. The individual is never called by God because he meets God’s requirements. Actually, he never does. Always, he is woefully unprepared, immature, and lacking in proper faith.
The Scripture says, “David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him. And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them” (I Sam. 22:1-2).
Notice that the mighty men who finally came about, as it regards those who were with David, did not begin as mighty. They started out as men who owed money and couldn’t pay. They started out as men who were wanted by the authorities. They started out as men who were desperate. Nothing about them looked like it was good because nothing about them was good.
Sometime ago, Frances and I were in Israel, along with several others, and I asked our guide to take us to Engedi where David had stayed during those trying days when he was being hunted like an animal. At the edge of that wilderness is a beautiful waterfall where David had no doubt spent time in and around its falling waters. As I stood there, I realized that those men with David never really saw the power of God move until David became king of Israel.
Stop and think about that for a moment. It was the Holy Spirit who would refer to these men in Scriptures as “mighty.” This was not a designation that David gave them or one they gave to themselves. It was a designation given by almighty God, and He called them “mighty men.”
I want to see mighty men and mighty women help us in this ministry of world evangelism. I need mighty men. I need mighty women. The kingdom of God needs mighty men and mighty women. How many in Christiandom today—how many today in this church and followers of this ministry—could be labeled by the Holy Spirit as mighty men and mighty women?
I remember years ago, we preached a meeting in Virginia Beach, Virginia, in the coliseum there. It was a great meeting, with thousands of people in attendance. Many were saved, and many were baptized with the Holy Spirit. In those days, we were flying our own plane. It was one of the old DC-3s. It was a sturdy plane and seated about twelve people, but it was slow. Actually, it would only fly about 150 miles per hour. As we left Virginia Beach that night, the weather was perfect, but little did we realize what was about to happen. I suppose we were about two hours out from Virginia Beach on our way to Baton Rouge when we ran into bad weather. I was exhausted from the meetings, and had actually gone to sleep. Suddenly, I was awakened by turbulence and immediately recognized that we were in the midst of a storm. It was raining so hard that I couldn’t see the lights that flashed on and off on the plane’s wingtips. I looked through the cockpit door, and I saw the radar swinging wildly back and forth—it was out of order. In a storm of that magnitude, if you don’t have a radar, you don’t know where you’re going. I heard our pilot, Greg Wieser, calling out, “Mayday, Mayday,” and I realized that we were in trouble. The left engine began to miss. It’s a peculiar feeling to be in an airplane in the midst of a storm when an engine begins to miss—the whole plane vibrates.
As stated, Greg was calling out for help. Without our radar, we couldn’t tell if we were flying into the worst part of the storm or not. It was a perilous situation. Through the crackling static, I heard someone responding back to Greg’s distress call. It was the pilot of a 737 passenger jet. He told Greg, “I can catch you on my radar, and I’m going to slow my plane down to just above stall speed, and I think I can guide you through the storm.” He gave Greg the vectors and stayed on the air as long as he could, and we made it through this near tragedy. Our next meeting was in Lakeland, Florida. Once again, I had not had an opportunity to say anything to anybody about what had transpired on our flight the week before. In the meeting, I was sitting on the platform with some other preachers while the host pastor of the crusade addressed the people. The dear brother seated beside me leaned over and said, “Brother Swaggart, did you have a problem of any sort last Sunday night?” I looked at him and said, “Yes, we were in the midst of a storm in our plane and almost didn’t make it.” He told me how the Lord had awakened him and his wife and said, “Jimmy Swaggart is in trouble. Get up and pray.”
He said, “I called my wife in there, and we both got on our knees and cried to the Lord, asking him, we didn’t know except what the Spirit of God had told us, and asking the Lord to lead and to help, and he said evidently He did.”
That’s the kind of people we need in Christiandom today—a mighty man and a mighty woman, glory be to God. That’s the solution. That’s the answer for America’s problems and any problem in the world today.
Read part two of “David’s Mighty Men” in the September issue of The Evangelist magazine.