Give Honor

These are the names of the mighty men whom David had . . .
— 2 Samuel 23:8 ESV

Thirty-seven names adorn 2 Samuel 23:8-38. To many they are just names (and hard to pronounce), but not to David. These are his Mighty Men: elite warriors, brave soldiers, men of renown, and men to remember.

I find it fascinating that God enshrines these men in the pages of Scripture. Why would he do that? Commenting on this passage, Matthew Henry writes:

“Those that in public stations venture themselves, and lay out themselves, to serve the interests of their country, are worthy of double honor, both to be respected by those of their own age and to be remembered by posterity.”

This Memorial Day we can honor God and our military heroes by adopting three practices we learn from King David:

1. Remember Our Heroes

Memorial Day can devolve into "a day off,"  backyard cookouts, yard work, and Memorial Day sales. These are not bad things, but the swirl of diversionary activity around Memorial Day can blind us to the purpose for its existence: remembering and respecting those who "gave the last full measure of devotion." Here are few ways you can remember our heroes:

  1. Fly the flag.
  2. Observe the National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 p.m. today.
  3. Attend a Memorial Day Ceremony or Event (click here for events in Boca Raton)
  4. Participate in "The Day Of Prayer For Permanent Peace."

2. Tell Their Stories

God is not content to list names on a bulletin board for all to see. He sees fit to tell us stories. There is Josheb who single-handily defeated eight hundred enemy soldiers. There is Elezar who, refusing to retreat, stood his ground in the face of impossible odds and fought until "his hand clung to the sword." There is Beniah who took on a lion and a lion of a man whom he defeated by snatching his enemy's spear and killing his with it.

In our era there is Leopold Karpeles. Karpeles who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism in the Civil War. Karpeles was a color bearer. He carried the flag that rallied the troops. Wielding no weapon while bullets and canon fire are aimed your way takes courage. Karpeles said,

I am aware that while I'm providing a rallying point and courage for my comrades, I'm alos a prime target for the enemy. I vowed to accept that risk . . . . If my future rests under this earth rather than upon it, I fear not.

Why do we tell these stories? It is not to glorify war. It is not to take delight in the death of an enemy. We tell them to forge character, bravery, and courage in our own lives.

What we celebrate today we become tomorrow.

I believe that Paul would add his "Amen" to this kind of story-telling. To the Philippians he writes, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable . . . whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Philippians 4:8). Telling stories of courage and honor helps build courage and honor. So we tell the stories.

3. Don't Forget WHO is behind the story.

David honors his Mighty Men, but he is careful to give God the glory. Notice how the author of Samuel reminds us who is in control of it all.

  • He (ELEAZAR) rose and struck down the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clung to the sword. And the Lord brought about a great victory that day. 2 Samuel 23:10 ESV
  • He (SHAMMAH) took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and struck down the Philistines, and the Lord worked a great victory. 2 Samuel 23:12

God wants us to remember He is the Author behind the story, the power behind the sword, the giver of the brave heart. This is a recurring message in Scripture:

The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD.
— Proverbs 21:31 ESV

Why is it so important to remember who is behind the story? So that on Memorial Day and every day we look to God to find victory for the battles we face, so that we look to Him to find meaning, peace, and grace in the story of our lives.

Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed
— Romans 13:7 ESV

Give honor this Memorial Day!