As my wife and I read our Bibles today, she brought up a question that deserved some merit. In 2 Samuel 21:17, David is almost killed in battle by Ishbibenob, the son of Goliath. One of David’s men, Abishai, saves David. At this point David’s men sit him down and they talk to David, who is their king, and has, through his life, been a mighty warrior. What they tell him says a lot about David. “Thou shalt no more go out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel.” This one statement packs a lot of punch that can help us today.
The last time that David stayed home from the battle, he committed adultery with Bathsheba. He murdered one of his mighty men, and made Joab a co-conspirator in that murder. God called him on it and his family was in turmoil after that, until the day he died. His baby died. His son raped his daughter. His other son Absalom, took a page from dad and murdered that brother, then led a full fledge rebellion against his father, David, who was still the king.
We don’t really see David in battle again until this passage, but the point is, David learned, that you don’t stay home when it was time to fight the battle. Here is the problem. David is getting up in years. He isn’t as strong as he used to be. His reflexes aren’t as quick as they were. When he steps up to fight Ishbibenob, he is fighting a younger man – at least 10 to 15 years younger. The younger warrior gets the best of David and his men pull his fat out of the fire. The warning they give David is the opposite of what God had to teach him by the school of hard knocks.
“Thou shalt no more go out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel.”
You can almost here the men. “David, your highness, you are our hero. We have watched you lead battle after battle. You have not let us down and your strategy never seems to fail. You are our hero. More than that, you are the hero of all Israel. If we lose you in battle, the nation will lose heart. We love you, we love our nation. We do not want to lose either. David, you are the captain of our team and we are lost without you, but we are YOUR team. You be king, but let us do the fighting. That way, the light of Israel will not be quenched. The hero of the nation will not die in battle.”
It is summed up simply. “Thou shalt no more go out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel.”
What does it mean for us? We can learn from the school of hard knocks. David sat out a battle he should have been in and it cost him dearly. He would not make the same mistake, commit the same sinful pattern twice. Neither should we. David was not in the battle alone. When he needed someone to pull his fat out of the fire, someone was there. We are not in the battle alone. God will give us people in our family and in our church, who God puts near us to pull our fat out of the fire right when we need it. David’s team had a leader – David. They all knew that and they followed because David took his lumps, his chastisement and stayed true to the God in whom he believed. People will follow us to Jesus when they see us stay true to Him as we overcome obstacles and sin in our lives. David’s team was loyal to him. They protected him. We need to be loyal to our friends, our leaders, our church, our pastor. God blessed them for their loyalty and the team won a great victory.
If we really want to live a victorious life, let’s “quench not the light.”