Yesterday felt like the title of a book I read some years ago, In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day (Mark Batterson, Author). Just read that title and ponder each word while adding the next word and image to it. In a pit. Bad. With a lion. Worse. On a snowy day. Worst! But actually, there is good news in this story from 1 Chronicles. Paul tells us in Romans 15:4 (NASB) that “whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that…we might have hope.” So what are the lessons from the text that gave title to Batterson’s book?
First, let’s read the Scripture.
Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. And he struck down an Egyptian who was five cubits tall. Although the Egyptian had a spear like a weaver’s rod in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as famous as the three mighty warriors. He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard. 1 Chronicles 11:22-25 (NASB)
What instruction does this text, written in earlier times, have for us? Well, let’s see.
Benaiah was the son of a Priest. We have a personal relationship with a great High Priest – Jesus. (Hebrews 4:14)
Benaiah was a valiant fighter. You are a fighter. Daily, you must fight the good fight of faith! (1 Timothy 6:12)
Benaiah was from Kabzeel, a city in southern Judah. The name means “gathering of God.” As a Christian, you are part of God’s gathering, the church.
Benaiah struck down two warriors from Moab. The Moabites were closely related to the Israelites, but they were enemies of Israel. There are those who are close to you, but they are your enemies. Perhaps your closest enemy might even be you – your flesh, that is. And you must strike down those enemies – yes, flesh included.
Benaiah went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. Bet you’re thinking, “Hmm. Let’s see her make a connection with this one!” 1 Peter 5:8b says, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Renowned Pastor, Ray Stedman said in a sermon addressing this topic, “Benaiah slew a lion — a lion, not a leopard, not a wild hyena or a boar or a buffalo, but a lion… it is not for nothing that the lion is called the king of beasts, because it is indeed a very powerful animal.”
But I did a little research.
The “king of the jungle” doesn’t have the strongest bite. There are many other cats and many other animals that surpass the lion for bite. As a matter of fact, ListVerse says, the lion has the “weakest bite of the genus Pathera or big cat.” Wow. But the research clearly points out that the lion doesn’t need a strong bite. This big cat is really a social animal and presents as quite cooperative during the hunt. It is not by power of bite that the lion kills; rather, it is by strangling its prey – biting the trachea. ListVerse says lions “lack the need of a strong bite.”
Our enemy, the Devil, prowls like a roaring lion seeking to devour. Like a lion, he is often social. Like a lion, he is often cooperative. Like a lion, he doesn’t need a strong bite. Like a lion, he often slips up on us and strangles the life out of us.
Every one of us has a lion prowling and pursuing us – that something, someone or some situation that is waiting, seeking to devour us. It might be a loss that we just can’t seem to move beyond – the grief of it has entangled our hearts and minds and even our lives. We may even feel as though a part of us died. There may be a physical disease that is daily draining our bodies of strength or our minds of clarity. Possibly your lion is a habit – a bad habit, that you know is killing you – a substance addiction, gambling, overeating, gossiping, worrying… Your lion might be fear – of the unknown or of something very specific, but it has you paralyzed. You know your lion.
But let’s get back to Benaiah.
Benaiah met his lion in a pit on a snowy day. Bad enough to meet a lion – anywhere. (I once met one on an African road. The body and windows of a little old minivan separated us. That was not enough for me, so in a pit? Not!) But Benaiah met his lion in a pit. Pits tend to be small. They tend to be deep. They tend to have slippery sides. They tend to be hard to escape. And then it was snowing! When I first read this Scripture, my response was, “Really!” (Not as in I doubted, but as in “Really. Can this get any worse?”)
Have you been there yet? In the pit with your lion? On a snowy day? Ray Stedman said, “He met the worst possible foe, in the worst possible place, under the worst possible circumstances.” Now, that’s the Devil for you. Getting you right where he wants you and setting you up for the kill.
Turn to Benaiah once more. The Scripture says, “He…went…and killed a lion.”
Hopefully, you are encouraged that you can face your lion. You can go down into the pit with him – even on a snowy day, and emerge victorious.
But there is one remaining question. How? How did Benaiah kill the lion? How do you kill your lion?
See you next blog entry…