Thursday, April 9, 2009

300 Versus 30

I would venture to say that the majority people have either seen 300 or heard the story of the three hundred Spartan’s last stand. Well if you haven’t seen 300, this is by no means an endorsement of that movie. I have seen it, and I greatly regret that I did so. So if you haven’t seen the movie, I suggest that you continue to refrain from watching it… Anyway that is merely my disclaimer for this note.

The story of the three hundred Spartans that stood up against hundreds of thousands of Persians is a story full of heroics and glory. Today we look back on these valiant warriors with great admiration for their extraordinary deeds. In spite of the overwhelming odds, these warriors stood their ground and fought to the death along side their king. For these reasons we tend to think of the Spartans as some of the greatest warriors that ever lived (and certainly they are). But I cannot help being at least slightly disappointed that another group of warriors in history that were just as valiant often go completely unnoticed, while the Spartans get all of the glory.

These thoughts came into my mind a few days ago when I was reading in the Bible about David’s mighty men (2 Samuel 23:8-39; 1 Chronicles 11:10-47). In these few verses of scripture we get to see some of the exploits of David’s mighty men.

If you find yourself wondering who exactly the mighty men were, fear not because that is exactly what you are about to find out.

David’s mighty men were the men that David almost constantly kept around him during his reign. They were great fighters, and they were fiercely loyal to their king. When I read these verses, I couldn’t help but think that David’s warriors were just as awesome, if not more awesome, than the Spartans. Here are a few of their exploits to prove my point, paraphrased, of course:

A warrior named Josheb-Basshebeth (how would you like to have that name?) killed eight hundred men with a spear, while Jashobeam stood beside him and killed three hundred with a spear. Okay, killing eight hundred or three hundred men is insane right from the start, but to do it using only a spear. There is a reason that the sword was so popular back in the day. It allowed for a great deal of maneuverability… much more so that the spear. Also with a sword you can hack and slash and stab, but when using a spear, you have two options: stab them or hit them with a stick (which essentially is what the majority of a spear is).

Eleazar stood with David against some Philistine warriors, while all of the other Israeli men fled. That, in itself, is pretty awesome but this next part is what makes this guy completely insane. Eleazar fought so long that his hand froze to his sword. It doesn’t tell us how many people he killed, but he killed so many that by the time he was done, he couldn’t take his hand off of his sword. So I will let you do the math to find out how many men you have to kill before you can’t let go of your sword.

Benaiah killed two of Moab’s best men (Moab was a country that wasn’t very nice back then). He also slew a seven and a half foot tall Egyptian warrior with his own spear, and killed a lion. That sounds like a pretty fierce line up from a gladiator movie.

One time when the Philistine’s controlled Bethlehem, David said that he longed a drink from the well near Bethlehem’s gates. Upon hearing this three of David’s thirty chiefs broke into Bethlehem through the Philistines lines, got the water from the well, and brought it back to David. These three guys broke into the enemies camp and fought back all of the guards and soldiers that came to stop them… all for a drink of water. David must have been really thirsty.

At first glance some of these may not seem quite as great as 300 Spartans fighting hundreds of thousands of Persians, but it is. The Spartans were great, valiant warriors; I will give them that. But what we tend to forget about is that the events of the 300 Spartans were not like that of the movie 300. The Spartans did not fight out in the open against the Persians; instead, they fought the Persians at the gap of Thermopylae, which very narrow and the Persians could only charge strait at the Spartans, were all they had to do was maintain their phalanx and stab with their spears. That was basically the only thing they did for the majority of the battle: the Persians would charge the Spartans, and the Spartans would stab. Pretty boring fight if you ask me.

Also there were other warriors fighting beside the 300 Spartans… around 2700 others. So the total forces were actually not just 300, but ten times that.

Now what about David’s men? Let’s imagine Josheb-Bassebeth and Jashobeam for a minute. They were in the same battle together, which means that they could be standing right next to each other or a relatively long ways away. But let’s assume that they are indeed standing side-by-side. Israel has fairly open land, so I would assume that they were not in a narrow pass but rather in a field. In this field they are fighting, presumably, over 1100 men because I would assume that at least a few men would have fled and survived. But the point is that these two men killed a total of eleven hundred men.

These are only a few of the mighty men’s feats. David chose them all because they were great and well accomplished warriors. These are the men that David knew would fight to the death if he commanded them to do so. He also knew that when all other warriors fled that these men would stand and fight even if they stood alone (apparently they did on a few occasions).

All of those attributes were great and necessary, but the most important aspect of these men was their loyalty to David (and their loyalty to God through being loyal to David). The Bible says that they gave David the support he needed to extend his kingdom all over the land. In short these men were David’s friends that supported him and helped him to carry out God’s will for all of Israel.

Now it would be very easy for me to draw some sort of sermon-esque message out of these stories about how as Christians we need good, loyal friends beside us or that we need to be willing to stand and fight for something we believe in even if we stand alone or something like that…

But I won’t because I think that it would be just a tad bit cheesy, and that is not this note’s purpose.

And to be honest I don’t really know what the purpose of this note is. All I know is that I like the story of David’s mighty men, and I felt like writing about it. Maybe it is to show you that there were some really awesome people in history that haven’t had movies made about them (and probably never will). Or maybe this will help you see that the Bible can be pretty entertaining at times, and that it is not just a bunch of commandments.

Or maybe I just like interesting stories and telling others about those stories.

Whatever the case may be, I hope that you take something from my random scribbles.

God loves you.

To God alone be the glory,


Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

No comments: