One day toward the end of David’s life, troubling news came to Jerusalem.
King David had some pretty incredible men around him. The Bible even calls them, “David’s mighty men.” Their exploits usually dealt with military campaigns.
But one man’s accomplishments included an act of courage that is nearly impossible to imagine.
Benaiah “also went down and killed a lion in the middle of a pit on a snowy day.” (2 Samuel 23:20).
Now it’s possible you read that a little too quickly.
He killed a lion. In a pit. And it was snowing!
It was something like a bloody, to-the-death cage fight on a really slippery floor.
Why a pit? The village had a problem. A lion had decided to make a living off the domesticated animals of the local farms. Shepherds were living in fear. Parents were terrorized. Children weren’t playing outside. School teachers were keeping one eye on their students, the other on the tree line. Shoppers hurried to market and hurried home.
The lion had changed everything in the village.
Village leaders had come up with a plan. They’d dig a pit, cover it, put some fresh meat on top of some branches … and wait.
The plan worked! The lion fell into the pit and was trapped.
A spear? Possible. Arrows? Maybe. Wait for the lion to die? What if it figured out a way to get out?
Benaiah stopped the debate. “I’ll go,” he said. And with that, he dropped down into the pit to go one-on-one with a killer. Amazingly, fantastically, he won the fight!
The lion was eliminated as a problem and Benaiah’s reputation skyrocketed both in the village and in the jungle.
Can you imagine standing over the pit, considering how you’d pull off such a dangerous task?
All around us, in every community, some of our bravest neighbors are in the pit right now.
Nurses. Doctors. Medical technicians. Support personnel in every hospital. First responders. Nursing home attendants.
Benaiah had only a hand-held weapon and his courage as he faced a lion. Our neighbors are fighting with face masks, gowns and gloves. There’s not much between them and a killer. If not for their courage, they wouldn’t be there at all.
Around the world, untold numbers of health care workers have gotten sick. While no one knows exact numbers, one article this week reported that 39 healthcare workers in Italy alone had died from COVID-19.
In that same Washington Post article, a 35-year-old ER physician spoke of making a will and setting up power-of-attorney arrangements in case she faced end-of-life issues of her own. “My fear of dying is worse now than it was when I was in Iraq,” said Andrea Austin, who works today in Los Angeles. (“As they rush to save lives, health care workers are updating their own wills and funeral plans,” Rachel Siegel, Washington Post, March 26, 2020.)
As you pray for scientists to develop a vaccine and effective medicines to fight this virus, pray also for those who are fighting it now. If you know of someone working on the “front lines” of this battle, pray for them by name. Send them a note of encouragement and thanks.
And if you want to really help them in their work, follow the quarantine directions until we’ve passed the worst of this fight. They’re staying at work for us. Surely we can stay at home for them.
There’s a lion in the pit … and it’s snowing hard. We shall never forget the heroic individuals who are trying to kill the beast.