From a Tokyo hotel room in the middle of the night, I ponder how to introduce this humble writ. I’m a former fighter pilot and an airline pilot, not a writer. I know it’s to be short, hard hitting, and to the point; or most men won’t read it. I also know that’s not like me. The Holy Spirit will have to help me ... help I feel He’s promised. Although I don’t know where or how to start, I do feel like David when he penned, “My heart is stirred by a noble theme, as I recite my verses for the King.”
That theme would be men, friendship, leadership—and how that applies to living life in our day and culture. And of course, this is largely defined by your relationships with people and your relationship with God—your own “Fear of the LORD.” Just as it was among David and his Mighty Men.
Do you know about David’s Mighty Men? I predict a few of you do, but most of you don’t. I’ll sum it up for you here, then add some fascinating and pertinent details in the following pages. They were, I believe, the most courageous and effective special forces warriors in all of history. They started out as misfits and rebels, fleeing from Saul, king of Israel, around 1000 B.C., gathering around their leader and anointed successor to the same throne, David. A summary of their exploits and names are found primarily in two Bible passages, 2 Samuel 23 and 1 Chronicles 11. The genesis and journey of their lives together are found interlaced with David’s story as it unfolds on the pages of biblical history, in the mountains of Israel.
Kings and relating to them are more important to you than you may know. This is still true for our times, as I intend to show. David and his Mighty Men “wrote the book” on this subject, 1000 years before the King of Kings, the Son of David, appeared in the Roman Empire as prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures, born in David’s town, Bethlehem.
A little history study will show you that David’s day was very much like our own. So we can learn much about our times and how to conduct ourselves from this study of the past. I remember a quote from my college Western Civilization book, “History teaches us that man learns nothing from history.” While there is a lot of sad irony and truth to this, it doesn’t have to be this way. Winston Churchill said, “The farther backward you look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”
It’s my hope and prayer that this short look at David and his Mighty Men will inspire you, inform you, and embolden you to be a man in your realm today. A man of relationship, friendship, leadership, humility and courage—like the sons of Issachar coming to make David King in Hebron, “men who understood the times, and knew what Israel should do.” There is something here that deeply touches a man’s soul. I think it’s what we all aspire to—something about our destiny, what we’re born to do.
Know what else we’re born for? Relationship. It’s an inward need and a most fulfilling end. While the Bible speaks to history, science, religion, philosophy, psychology, etc., it’s primarily a book about relationship. From Genesis to Revelation, it’s a story about a King and His bride, Christ and the Church, God and Israel. It’s a story and textbook about one of life’s mysteries and treasures—friendship. Jesus said, “I no longer call you servants….Instead I have called you friends.”
I’m very grateful for parents who taught and modeled much about friendship for me and my siblings. And I’m grateful to have been raised and formed in Christian community, where I learned the value of finding fulfillment in friendship.
Certainly David, the shepherd king of Israel, interacting with his Mighty Men, teaches us much about friendship: how to be a friend and how to value friends. We see the lows of poor friendships, the highs of great friendships, and the courage and necessity to risk friendship. Indeed, I once noticed this insightful passage, from which springs the title of this little book. After a long list of David’s officers, confidants, stewards, advisors, generals, and rulers, there is named: “Hushai the Archite…the king's friend.”
“The king’s friend.” May this book give you a vision for becoming a better “friend of the KING.” And for becoming a better friend to all those in your realm. It will be an important part of your destiny and the enjoyment of your life’s journey.
Besides understanding our times and how we should live, besides understanding how to relate to authority and the King, besides understanding the power and importance of friendship, I want to say something about being a man—being a man under God.
One of my spiritual mentors, Charles Simpson, said in a sermon about Moses, “God’s plan isn’t a plan; it’s a man.” He gave several other examples from Scripture and history, then went on to say, “the purposes of God are carried on the shoulders of sanctified men, not on an oxcart or any creation of man.” This is a reference to the ark of the covenant. Indeed, again, David teaches us about the fear of the LORD. It was a lesson bitterly learned when his friend Uzzah was struck dead, reaching out to steady the ark being carried on a cart pulled by oxen.
You can’t separate David from his actions, or his friends from their actions. Nor can you separate yourself from your actions. In the end, you are what you do. What you believe is what you do. Jesus said, “By their fruits you shall know them.” It’s not what they say, but what they do.
James, the brother of our Lord and head of the early church in Jerusalem, said it this way, “... someone may well say, you have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” And even more bluntly like this, “faith without works is dead.”
I like to say it like this, “Faith works!” It’s easy to remember and true.
What you say and do describes your character, but as stated above, more so what you do. I suggest that’s important to God. He cares. He watches. He’s looking for a few good men. And He’s looking for a few good friends, suitable friends for His Son, the King: “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”
To understand a little better the value of men and friends to God, note a couple of things the Holy Spirit says in the Scripture about David. One, David was a man after God’s own heart. Two, “David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep....” Those are two amazing commendations! “A Heart Like His,” as Beth Moore has titled her book about David. And he accomplished God’s purpose in his generation. Fulfilled his destiny! Pleased his God!
God takes pleasure in a man who’ll be a man. God wants to take pleasure in you. As David told his son Solomon, successor to the throne, “... now show yourself a man.”
“But that was David,” you say! “I’m just me, and I’m coming from way back in the pack toward anything like that!” I’ll just remind you that James, the brother of Jesus, said by the Spirit, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours.”