Determined to Serve the King: Benaiah in the Snow
20 And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was a valiant man of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds. He struck down two ariels of Moab. He also went down and struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen. 21 And he struck down an Egyptian, a handsome man. The Egyptian had a spear in his hand, but Benaiah went down to him with a staff and snatched the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. 22 These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and won a name beside the three mighty men. 23 He was renowned among the thirty, but he did not attain to the three. And David set him over his bodyguard.
Nobody makes a business card for themselves that says “Doer of Great Deeds.” If Benaiah son of Jehoiada from Kabzeel introduced himself as “Doer of Great Deeds” you might not take him seriously.
The fact is, this description comes at the end of David’s life when the historian is reviewing the exploits of all of David’s Mighty Men. These events might have spanned Benaiah’s entire lifetime, or just the period while he was with David in the wilderness before David was made a king.
Either way, Benaiah was a mighty dude in a time where prowess at fighting and toughness were a hot commodity.
He killed a handsome Egyptian. That is a funny word to use there, but it basically means tall (like abnormally giant tall) and super strong. So yes, he fought an Egyptian stud giant and killed him with his own spear. You can only imagine an action-movie scene worthy of this guy.
He killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day. We don’t have any details or motive, but you can put together that Benaiah did hard things that nobody else could do. He took risks, he fought for David, and he was entrusted to be KING DAVID’S CHIEF BODYGUARD.
The guy that killed Goliath had a bodyguard. Benaiah was that tough.
But there is an elephant in the room I haven’t mentioned. Or rather, an ariel. Depending on the translation, you might have different words there. My favorite is when you read the ESV and check the footnote.
“The meaning of the word ariel is unknown.”
He killed two things, and we don’t even know what they were.
The roots of the word mean “lion-man” or “god lion.” There are plenty of other sources on the web that argue about this being a type of mighty warrior (Moabites called their version of a Navy Seal an ariel) or a demonic lion-man mutant (some people don’t do metaphors well). Either way, the thing was super tough and it was impressive and rare that Benaiah could even kill two of them.
Not saying we should get out there and fight and kill some lions on this snowy day, but there is a warning and encouragement here. Benaiah stopped at nothing to serve his King. He wasn’t afraid of cold, getting out of bed, going up against an Egyptian with the wrong weapons or fully understanding whatever an ariel was.
In serving the King, we value his life and his comfort and his fame over our own, and we go for it. May we become a neighborhood, a city, or even a church that can be called by others a “Doer of Great Deeds”. Who knows? We might someday be listed among the Mighty.