"After Him"

There are three mighty men spoken of in 2 Samuel 23, who are not only distinguished by name, but also by the two little words at the head of this paper, "After him." And although the words refer to David's mighty men, they also contain a lesson on lowliness for the children of God in general; and they are not without an application to every humble-minded servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The list of those mighty men is headed with the name of "Adino the Eznite," whose weapon of war was a spear, with which he slew no less than eight hundred Philistines at one time. And after him was Eleazar, the son of Dodo the Ahohite, to whose name the number of those slain is not attached, but of whom we read, "He arose, and smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword"; and after him was Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite, who "stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines." After this a name is added of far more importance than all the rest, in connection with which the secret also of the warrior's success is revealed: "And the Lord wrought a great victory" (2 Sam. 23:8-12), thus leaving His servants free to acknowledge Him as their Deliverer, and render unto Him His due. It gives us to see, at the same time, how He identifies Himself with His servants, and lends His strength to those who are engaged in His battles against the enemy. This was realized by the apostle Paul when he had been deserted by those around in his deepest need, and yet could say, "Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me … and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion." He had fought the good fight, and finished his course; and while waiting for his promotion from earth to heaven, and with the expectation of receiving his crown of righteousness from the hand of a righteous Judge, he recalled the deliverances which the Lord had wrought in his behalf, and which have been recorded in the word of God for the encouragement of every Christian warrior.

We have another illustration in a remarkable miracle which was wrought upon a lame man, through the instrumentality of the apostle Peter. When the people saw the man "walking and praising God," they greatly wondered, and showed undue regard to the apostle; but he said, "Why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?" He then traced the power by which the lame man had been healed to the Prince of Life at the right hand of God; and pointed out that it was by means of faith in "the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth" the man was made whole. The apostle then charged them with the guilt of Christ's rejection and crucifixion, assuring them, at the same time, that the One they had so used would readily forgive and willingly receive them, if they would but repent of their sins. This truth applies to every unconverted person during the few remaining moments of this present day of grace; after which, the harvest being past and the summer ended, the opportunity for salvation will have gone for ever.

We have seen how readily those honoured servants of Christ, who stood in the forefront of the battle at the commencement of the present dispensation, ascribed the praise and glory to God in their service. And, no doubt, a kindred spirit, to some extent, was found in King David's mighty men, to whom the privilege was given of owning the claims of the Lord while fighting under His banner, accepting also their promotion at His hands, and as a token of His favour which entitled them to share in His victories. We cannot imagine for a moment that Eleazar would be guilty of envying Adino, or that Shammah claimed equality with Eleazar; and what but spiritual pride could account for a servant even desiring to place next his own name the words, "After me" in preference to "After him?" Neither is it likely that Adino, who distinguished himself from the rest by his great success in slaying eight hundred Philistines at one time, would even wish for such a thing as that "after me" should be placed near his name, for the admiration of his fellow-soldiers, any more than the apostle Peter would desire to exalt himself, because "about three thousand souls" were added to the Church as the result of his preaching? We hope to show that this was not the apostle's practice; for although we find the name of Peter identified with the long list of saved ones, we have also seen how ready he was to give all the glory to God. And we also see how willingly he gives preference to others of the Lord's servants, for when speaking of the apostle Paul he says, "Our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you" (2 Peter 3:15), thus taking a place in connection with Paul of one to whom the words, "After him," apply. If the same spirit of yieldingness were more exhibited among the people of God, and each esteemed others "better than themselves," what a reproduction of Christ there would be in this world during His absence! And what heavenly order and happiness there would be in the assemblies of His saints!

We get three characteristics of a good soldier of Jesus Christ in connection with David's mighty men  -  (1) the great success of Adino; (2) the great devotedness of Eleazar; and (3) the great endurance of Shammah. The success of the Christian warrior depends upon his devoted subjection to the word of God. This is illustrated in the case of Joshua, who was told to "meditate therein day and night" and thus ensure "good success." (Joshua 1:8.) The same thought also connects itself with what is said respecting Eleazar, the son of Dodo, who smote the Philistines "until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword." So it is with any faithful and devoted follower of Christ who, through long experience in the ways of God, and by strict adherence to His word, refutes the reasonings of men, and defeats the enemies of God's people. And the more he accustoms himself to the use of "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God," the more assured he is of its all-sufficiency for every emergency. His delight in the law of the Lord will be in proportion to his desire for it; and the sense of its preciousness increases day by day, while his heart retains the impress of the blessed word of God, just as the hilt of the sword left its impress in the hand of Eleazar. And, after him, we read "was Shammah," who is not accredited with holding anything so important as a "fort." It was a field of lentils, and he distinguished himself as a good soldier, by holding possession thereof until the enemy was completely defeated. And thus we find the last on the list of the three mighty men was one who could both "resist" and "overcome" the enemy. He could "hold fast," and "endure hardness" because he was "strong" in the Lord and in the power of His might.

We may safely say that there cannot be success in the service of God, apart from endurance and devotedness to His word. A further proof of this is given in what is said by the apostle Paul to Timothy, "My son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." And again he says, "Endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2 Tim. 2:1-3.); from which we are to learn that the demand made upon the Christian warrior is in proportion to the dangers and difficulties which beset his pathway; and that both the work and warfare of these last days is of such a peculiar character as to call for great spiritual power, and freshly-supplied courage. But the exhortation "Be strong in the Lord," signifies that our resources are in Himself, and therefore never-failing.

"Our whole resource along the road,
Nothing but Christ, the Christ of God."

H. H.

"Such as Paul are chords on which God strikes, and on which He produces a wondrous music; but Christ is all the music itself."