2 Samuel 23:20-23 (NIV)
20 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. 21 And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear 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. 22 Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as famous as the three mighty warriors. 23 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.
Lion hunter isn’t the profession for everyone. We live in a part of the country where there are lion hunters. You could
see a lion in the park or the national forest. You can see one under your porch.
For most people, just the idea of actually encountering a lion, be it a mountain lion or an African lion, is enough to
induce fear. Were you to encounter a real one, your natural “fight or flight” reaction would be to run! Run away.
Then there are the lion chasers, who run to the roar. They don’t see a problem. They see an opportunity. They go
We hear a seemingly obscure passage at the end of 2 Samuel. Many scholars see this section as a kind of
appendix to the narrative of King David’s reign. The section honors David’s Mighty Men. These thirty-seven men
were the cream of the crop of David’s army from the time before he was king, a fugitive from King Saul, then
throughout his reign.
Today, we will look at one of these Mighty Men, the inspiration of our series title, Chase the Lion, based on the
book by Mark Batterson. This Mighty Man is Benaiah, a mighty man, captain of King David’s bodyguard, and
eventually the head of the army under David son, King Solomon. (c.f. 1 Kings 2:35)
Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, was a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, who performed great exploits. He struck down
two of Moab’s best men. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed the lion. (2 Samuel 23:20)
According to Napoleon Bonaparte there are two kinds of courage. There is regular courage, and there is two
o’clock in the morning courage. He said the rarest attribute among generals is two o’clock in the morning courage.
Chasing a lion into a pit on a snowy day is the two o’clock kind of courage. However, that one action changed the
direction of Benaiah’s life. You are no different. You are one decision, one idea, one dream, one risk from a
completely different life. Sure, it may be the scariest decision you will ever make, but if your dream doesn’t scare
you, it’s too small.
“Scripture doesn’t explain what Benaiah was doing or where he was going when he crossed paths with the lion.
We don’t know the time of day or his frame of mind. But it does reveal his gut reaction, and it was gutsy.
“Put yourself in Benaiah’s sandals.
“Your vision is obscured by falling snow and frozen breath. Out of the corner of your eye, you detect movement.
Pupils dilate. Muscles flex. Adrenaline rushes. It’s a prowling lion stalking its prey—you.
“In the wild, man versus lion ends the same way every time. Man runs; lion chases; king of the beast eats
manwich for lunch. But Benaiah flips the script. That’s what courage does! I don’t know if it was the look in his
eye or the spear in his hand, but the lion turns tail and Benaiah chases.
“A fully grown lion can run thirty-six miles per hour and leap thirty feet in a single bound. Benaiah doesn’t stand
a chance, but that doesn’t keep him from giving chase. He can’t keep pace, but he can track paw prints in the
freshly fallen snow. He comes to the place where the ground has given way beneath the lion’s five-hundred-pound
frame. Benaiah peers into the pit. Yellow cat eyes glare back.
“It’s a made-for-Hollywood moment. Imagine it on the silver screen. Benaiah walks away from the pit while
moviegoers breathe a sigh of relief. But Benaiah isn’t walking away; he’s getting a running start. The audience
gasps as Benaiah turns around and takes a flying leap of faith, disappearing into the darkness. A deafening roar
echoes off the walls of the cavernous pit, followed by a bloodcurdling battle cry.
“Then silence, dead silence.
“No one is eating popcorn at this point.
“Everyone expects the lion to strut out, shaking its mane. But no. A human form reaches up and climbs out of the
pit. Drops of blood color the snow crimson. Claw marks crisscross Benaiah’s spear arm. But against all odds, the
valiant warrior from Kabzeel earns an epic victory.
“Closing credits roll. (Batterson, 2)
Finding yourself in a pit with a lion is a problem. It might even be the last problem you ever have. For Benaiah it
was an opportunity to bump up his resume. It couldn’t have hurt when he applied for the chief bodyguard position
to the king of Israel. His career exceeded his wildest dreams when he became the commander of Israel’s Army,
second in power only after King Solomon. But it all goes back to this one decision. This decision charted the
course for his life.
Is it that different now, three thousand years later? We can run away from what we are afraid of, but we will
always be running. Instead we can face our fears and chase the lion!
For everyone who follows a dream there comes a time when you have to quit living as if the purpose of life is to
arrive safely at death. You have to go after a dream that will fail without divine intervention. (3)
In school, we are told to avoid clichés, but sometimes there is a good reason for them. There can be wisdom in
- Go big or go home
- Take the road less traveled by
- Bite the bullet, “or turn back on your dreams” (3).
Not many of us are faced with the literal life-and-death scenario that causes the fight or flight reaction within us.
But that doesn’t mean that we aren’t faced with things our minds process that way on a regular basis. Most of us
choose flight, and run away from what scares us. “We forfeit our dreams on the altar of fear.” (3)
Pew Research Center consistently shows in its polling that most people in the U.S. believe in God, believe God is
real, but most of us don’t live like it. Our thoughts about God become an intellectual exercise rather than part of
our everyday lives.
Circumstances come between God and us instead of letting God get in between us and those circumstances.
When you are a lion chaser, you measure your task against the power of God, including those huge lions. It’s
Scaredy Cat vs Lion Chaser.
In 1896, Orville Wright got typhoid fever. For several days he was near death. He couldn’t even sit up in bed for a
month, and then it was weeks before he could get out of bed. You know what that made him? A captive audience
of his brother, Wilbur, who was obsessed with the idea of human flight. Wilbur started reading books about flight
to Orville. That’s when a lion crossed the path of Wilbur and Orville Wright.
In 1899, Wilbur acquired a book from the Smithsonian called The Empire of the Air, by Louis Pierre Mouillard. It
was so inspirational that Wilbur said it was like, “a prophet crying in the wilderness, exhorting the world to repent
of its unbelief in the possibility of human flight.” (David McCullough, The Wright Brothers (New York: Simon &
Schuster, 2015) 36)
Exhorting the world to repent of its unbelief in the possibility of human flight.
What a challenge! Is there an impossibility about which you need to repent? What if the sin, the separation from
God, we need to repent about is our small dreams?
As Mark Batterson says, “A God sized dream will always be beyond your ability, beyond your resources. Unless
God does it, it can’t be done! That’s how God gets the glory, gets the credit. If your dream doesn’t scare you, it’s
too small. It also falls short of God’s glory [his ability] by not giving him an opportunity to show up and show off his
power.” (Batterson, 8)
This series calls us to repent, to turn around our thinking, turn from limiting ourselves to our small dreams in our
small God. It is also a challenge – a challenge to pursue a dream that is bigger than you are.
To a God of infinite power and ability, everything else is equal. There is nothing too big or too small, too easy or
too hard, nothing is impossible.
After Jesus came out of the tomb on the third day “impossible” ceased to be in our dictionary. God can handle the
Orville and Wilbur Wright had no formal education. They didn’t have sponsors or benefactors paying their way.
They had a dream and the perseverance to keep moving forward. Every failure was an opportunity to learn. And
finally on December 17th in 1903, they were able to achieve flight for 12 seconds in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
What seemed impossible became possible. That 12 seconds changed everything. Now, at any particular time
there can be thousands of airplanes carrying hundreds of thousands of passengers around the world. All this
from a dream.
Tony Robbins famous author, inspirational speaker, and life coach gave one piece of advice that can help us
change our way of thinking.
“What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”
Think about that for a moment. What if you put aside your fear and considered what you would do if you knew
you could not fail? It is a good question to ask ourselves at the beginning of a new year, as we review the past and
think about setting new goals.
It is not that God gives us a blank check and guarantees success in every endeavor, but a God-sized dream is
beyond our ability to do on our own. Unless God makes up the difference, it can’t be done. That is how God gets
That’s how it was with the building of The PLACE. This congregation worked so hard, invested so much, but even
with that, it could not have been completed without God’s help. And it would not be having the success it is
without God’s involvement.
The question is what is next? What is next for you as an individual, and what is next for us as a church. I mean we
have our own personal goals and dreams, and we have goals and dreams as a Church of God.
Over the next week, I want you to think about it, pray about it. What is our next god-sized dream to help us share
the love of Christ with our community? How can we help people learn about and experience the relationship, the
love, that they can have with God?
We will be looking at King David’s Mighty Men. They were warriors. They were brave. They were a part of
something bigger than themselves, a mission that God had given them, a God-sized dreams to create the state
of Israel from twelve loosely affiliated tribes.
God also sent another Mighty Man, the mightiest of men, Jesus. He did not come as a warrior, but he too was
brave. He was willing to rush into the most volatile of situations and be bold. He was so afraid the night of his
arrest as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane (cf Luke 22:39-44), but that did not stop him. All of these
Mighty Men we will talk about were afraid, but they went forward anyway.
And, they can inspire us to do that, too. We can chase the lion God has for us. We can go boldly into the future to
seek the adventure the Lord has for us. We can run to the roar.
We will be dreaming about this for the next 4 weeks, so keep thinking about it. Keep praying about it. What God-
sized dream does God have for you?
In your bulletin you have a copy of “The Lion Chaser’s Manifesto.” Keep it with you. Read it. Contemplate it. Pray
over it. Now, let’s read it all together:
The Lion Chaser’s Manifesto
- Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.
- Run to the roar.
- Set God-sized goals.
- Pursue God-given passions.
- Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention.
- Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution.
- Stop repeating the past. Start creating the future.
- Face your fears. Fight for your dreams.
- Grab opportunity by the mane and don’t let go.
- Live like today is the first day and the last day of your life.
- Burn sinful bridges. Blaze new trails.
- Live for the applause of nail-scarred hands.
- Don’t let what is wrong with you keep you from worshiping what is right with God.
- Dare to fail.
- Dare to be different.
- Quit holding out.
- Quit holding back.
- Quit running away.
- Chase the lion!
Now, let me pray for you…
Lord, our thinking is often so small. We look at our assets and abilities, and we think that there is so little
that we can do, but that’s because we forget about you. We live like it all depends on us, and that we are doing
it on our own. Help us to remember that you are with us always. Help us to see the way you move in our
world. Inspire us with dreams to spread your love, your kingdom, beyond our ability. Help us to depend on
you to work on dreams that bring you the glory. Help us to expand our thinking this week and dream of what
you would have us do as individuals and as your church. We pray these things in your name. Amen!