On a Snowy Day

Starting tomorrow, I hereby declare that I am setting aside 2 Samuel for a while. I am going to spend the weekend in I Kings and not read anything else. If I write this down here, maybe I’ll be able to do it. Maybe.

But how can I not spend a day or so on the ‘plot of ground full of lentils’ or the well of Bethlehem? How can I move on from the giants, the man at Gath who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot? And I can hardly type out the name of Saul without dropping everything else. There are things in the story of Saul that evoke a sense of time before time began. THRILLING!

But I am going to move on. I am. Am I? I am.

But before I leave, I want to pause for just a little minute on 2 Samuel 23, on this magnificent morsel in verse 20.

Then Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, who had done mighty deeds, killed the two sons of Ariel of Moab.
He also went down and killed a lion in the middle of a pit on a snowy day. 

2 Samuel 23:20

When I came across that, I sat for a few minutes in silence, thinking, wondering. But just now, while typing this, I’ve realized that this is the perfect passage to propel me to 1 Kings, because there we find another tale of lions.

Then he [the prophet] said to him, “Because you have not listened to the voice of the LORD, behold, as soon as you have departed from me, a lion will kill you.”
And as soon as he had departed from him a lion found him and killed him.

1 Kings 20:36

In the Bible, we read about men who killed lions with their bare hands and men who survived the lion’s den. But as we find in 1 Kings, some men died a horrible death, devoured by lions.

Daniel in the Lions’ Den, marble parapet slab, Taşoz, Greece, 6th cent. Inv. 2157 T, Museum of Archaeology, Istanbul

This violence is hard to sit with. It’s hard to make sense of. It’s painful and unsettling. Yet we can’t skip over it. What do we do with it? The prophet Jeremiah helps us understand.

For they do not know the way of the Lord or the ordinance of their God.
Therefore a lion from the forest will slay them,
A wolf of the deserts will destroy them …

Jeremiah 5:4, 6a

And here’s where we need to pause again. Sit with this for a moment, my friends. Be still.

Be still and then call on the name of someone mightier than these earthly beasts, call on the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David. Jesus has defeated the evil one, the roaring lion. The lion of the earth has no power over those who call on Jesus’s name and who give their lives to Him.

And yet, as Peter warns us, violence still stalks the earth.

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.
Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

The brief story of our brother Benaiah is the story of Jesus Christ. But it is our story as well. Take up your sword, you Benaiahs, you wise women, you Hannahs, you Bride of Christ, people of God. Take up the whole armour of God. Are you asleep? Wake up and join the mighty men of David.

14 “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”
15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 
16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 
17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 
18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 
19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 
20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.

Ephesians 5:14-20

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