endurance success


Neal Pollard

In December, 2003, Dave Young, Sr., Jim Dalton, Keith and Kim Kasarjian, Cy Stafford, Kathy and I all stopped for lunch at a picnic area in Tarangire National Park south of Arusha, Tanzania. We stood a short distance from our vehicles, and I prayed for the food.  About midway through the prayer, a lion roared.  The sound felt as if it went straight through us, and every eye popped open to see exactly where the big cat was.  Afterward, Cy told us it could have been a mile away.  The roar was so powerful, it felt like he was spitting (eating?) distance away from us.

Since then, every time I read about a particular conquest of Benaiah, one of David’s mighty men, I think back to that hot African day.

2 Samuel 23:20 so nonchalantly reports, “…He also went down and killed a lion in the middle of a pit on a snowy day.”  Notice three things about this exploit.  First, the foe was ferocious. It was a lion, one of nature’s fiercest predators.  It is likely to be an aggressor when confronted by a man.  Second, the field of battle was foreboding.  Try to put yourself in Benaiah’s position.  You are down in a pit facing the king of the jungle.  It is very unlikely one can outrun a lion on flat ground in ideal circumstances, but where do you run down in a pit? Finally, the forecast was definitely a factor!  What was the traction and footing like for David’s mighty man in this battle? Yet, the outcome, incredibly, was that Benaiah faced this foe and won!

Have you ever found yourself in a seemingly impossible circumstance?  Maybe a powerful temptation, a chronic illness, a perpetual enemy, a prolonged financial crisis, a wayward loved one, or other thorn in the flesh or spirit?  Maybe you felt like giving up.  Maybe you have given up.  I urge you to be a Benaiah, fighting valiantly adorned with the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10ff).  Realize that you do not fight alone, that God will aid you (1 Cor. 10:13) and lead you to victory every time (1 Jo. 5:4).  Your lion, pit, or snowy day may be figurative, but that makes God’s aid no less likely.  You keep fighting, and He will give you victory!


“He Heard My Voice…”

Neal Pollard

Do you ever feel like nobody’s listening, or that you have no one to whom to tell your troubles?  Isolation seems to be more characteristic of our society.  We are surrounded by lonely people, even as the country’s population rises, even in the middle of crowded cities, stores, and subdivisions, and even though we are in the “information age.”  Information does not mean intimacy or communication.

Yet, even when we do have friends and loved ones in our lives, there are some circumstances where their shoulders and ears are not enough.  David faced times like that.  He recalls some of those times near the end of his reign as second king of Israel.  In 2 Samuel 22, he remembers times with Saul and other enemies when he was surrounded, afraid, confronted, and distressed.  Have you ever felt that way?  What did you do?

David says, “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry entered His ears” (22:7).  Even when we have the attention of someone on earth, we do not have access to the wisdom and power of heaven.  God can do what no mortal can.  Notice the progression.

First, God heard (7).  God is not disinterested when it comes to His children.  His ears are open to the righteous (1 Peter 3:12).  David had that same confidence at other times in his life (cf. Psalm 65:2).  The only thing restricting God’s ability to hear the faithful Christian’s prayers is that Christian’s lack of faithfulness to pray to Him.  “Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”  God intently waits for our prayers.  Marlin Connelly once spoke of God’s presence with the faithful in Revelation 8:1-4.  In explaining the meaning of the silence in heaven for half an hour (1), Connelly commented that it is as if God is saying, “Hush!  I’m listening to the prayers of the saints!”  What a thought!

Second, God reacted (8-14).  God is not neutral when it comes to His children.  Think about it.  If you are a parent, are you neutral when it comes to your children?  If they are being harassed, if they have problems, or if they are hurting, how does it make you feel?  Notice how vividly David, by inspiration, poetically describes God’s reaction to how David is being treated.  The earth shook and the foundations of heaven quaked.  Smoke went up from His nostrils and fire from His mouth. He thundered from heaven, sending out lightning bolts.  Why?  “Because He was angry” (8).  He was angry at how His son David was being treated.  Will you remember that God cares that much about you?  Such knowledge should make us confident that we can weather any trial that comes!

Finally, God acted (15ff).  God is not passive when it comes to His children.  He rescued David (17-20) and punished His enemies (15-16).  David says he took me, drew me, delivered me, supported me, rewarded me, and delighted in me.  Through providence and answered prayer, God acts on our behalf.  And think about what He has already done to show He cares (cf. Romans 5:8).  Remember a cross?  Or a big event on Pentecost (cf. Acts 20:28)?  If we pay close attention, God constantly proves His love and concern for us.

Let us not miss David’s part in all this.  David understood that God’s hearing, reacting, and acting on David’s behalf was tied to David’s manner of life and response to God’s love.  David heard God (22:21-23).  David also acted obediently (22:24-25).  Our relationship with the Father cannot be shallow or one-sided.  But, what joy to know that even at the lowest, hardest times, if no one else knows, He hears our voice!