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We fight for a King who we know will prevail.
This sermon is part of the sermon series "Remember Who We Are (Part 1)". See series.

You may be familiar with the St. Crispin Day speech in Shakespeare's Henry V. King Henry is rallying the ragtag army—stirring them to fight a seemingly hopeless battle. The speech ends this way:

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

I understand why Henry V would give a speech like that to his troops, but why would Shakespeare give a speech like that to us? What do we who care for kids and sell widgets, who garden and go to school gain from a speech like that? Surely it stirs us to be braver in the obscurity of the ordinary, more daring in the unseen battles of our lives, to imagine more for ourselves, to see that ordinary people—even against great odds—can rise to great things.

Our text today, 1 Chronicles 11-12, is intended to do for God's people what Shakespeare's oratory does for its audience. It is a story of the great King David and the exploits of his mighty men, but what we read here was first given to ordinary people 500 years after David in mundane, uninspiring, even disheartening circumstances. People who had never, in all their lives, felt heroic, had never risen to a great and gallant battle, who probably didn't own a sword. They were plodders, people of no renown. But they were the people of God! These chapters were meant to rally God's people then and now to fight loyally in service of our King as he builds his kingdom.

Turn to 1 Chronicles 11-12. These two chapters are up to something clever. They look back as a way of prophesying the future. What God did in the days of David he will do again. In fact, he has begun to do it again. The key verse in these two chapters might be 11:10: "These were the chiefs of David's mighty men—they, together with all Israel, gave his kingship strong support to extend it over the whole land, as the Lord had promised." We probably don't feel much like "mighty men," but those heroes of 2,000 years ago are our inspiration and model today.
Like David's mighty men …

We serve a King who is worth fighting for.

Beginning in 1 Chronicles 11:11, there are a series of stories, short and long, about the exploits of David's mighty men. Here are Jashobeam and, later Abishai, who on different occasions each took on 300 bad guys by themselves and won. And Eleazar who prevailed against the Philistines when others ran for their lives. And the mighty Benaiah who took on a 7½ foot tall Egyptian warrior, ripped the huge man's own spear out of his hands, and used it to kill him! Mighty men indeed! Why did these heroes do such brave things? Because their enemies were threatening to take what belonged to their king, David.

We must confront the enemies who would take what belongs to our King Jesus. But we do not use clubs and spears and arrows. We put on "the full armor of God." Second Corinthians 10:4 says, "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds." What are our weapons? For one, "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" (Ephesians 6:17). Sometimes our weapon is Christ's love wielded against hatred or indifference; sometimes it is an undaunted faith; sometimes it is truth stabbing again and again at our culture's lies; and sometimes it is justice, using prayer or courts or picket lines to come to the aid of the weak and helpless. For some of you, the enemy before you is a giant deadly habit with a spear the size of a weaver's beam, and courage for you is fighting back in the power of the Spirit; courage for you in that dark night is saying, "No more. No further. Here is where you stop."

There's one particularly poignant story of valor in our text. David was hiding out in a cave, on the run from King Saul, who wanted to kill him. Meanwhile the Philistines had captured his hometown of Bethlehem. They wanted to kill everyone in Israel. David was caught between two different enemies! It was very disheartening. Listen to verses 17-19, where David turned that precious gift of water into a holy sacrifice. In effect, he said, "Lord, I give you the precious sacrifice these men have made for me, as precious as their very blood. Only you are worthy of such sacrifice and devotion!" How could we do something like that for our King Jesus? What does he yearn for as David yearned for that drink from his hometown well? Consider a Christian family who, without telling anyone, regularly serves at a soup kitchen; a guy who tutors underprivileged kids because he wants to do something for Jesus; a woman who pours herself into paintings she hopes Jesus likes. These are costly cups of cold water to delight our King. Daring some hard thing in order to delight our King is a sacred sacrifice Jesus will treasure. It is a holy gift he will pour out before the throne of God!

The mighty do not set out to be mighty. They set out to serve their King at any cost. Some of us have been praying this week for two young Christian women, Maryam and Marzieh, imprisoned in Iran for their faith. The information we received said, "The two are suffering. At first they were held together in a very crowded cell with 27 others, and now they are in solitary confinement in two-by-two meter cells. They have also both had serious infections, and they are being interrogated. Additionally, they are expected to stand trial before the revolutionary court without legal representation. Despite all this, their faith in Christ has not wavered. One said, 'I've taken up my cross, I now have to bear it.'" They are mighty, and they are our sisters! We serve a King who is worth fighting for.

In chapter 12, there are two key ideas. One is the idea of help. The word help occurs numerous times—these various heroes coming to help David. Like in verse 1: "They were among the warriors who helped him in battle." Or in verse 18 where a new ally says to David: "Success to those who help you, for your God will help you." Both verses 21 and 22 speak of men coming to help David. In verse 33, the men of Zebulun came "to help David with undivided loyalty." And that is the second key idea in this chapter: loyalty. Help and loyalty. The point is:

We help our King most by our loyalty to him.

You might think that the main reason David needed the help of fighting men was to fight. And they were certainly valuable in the ongoing war with the Philistines. But actually, what David really needed their help to do was to unify the country under his rule. When David was first crowned, it was just over his own tribe of Judah. There were 11 other tribes, and at first, their loyalties were mostly to their own individual tribes and to Saul or his surviving son, Ish-Bosheth. David knew from God that his job was to unite the Israelites into one nation. That is the concern of our Lord Jesus Christ—not just to unify the 12 tribes of Israel, but to unify every tribe, nation, people, and language. Our King's greatest concern is not his enemies but our unity. Our unity is the proof of his authority. Our unity was the thing Jesus prayed for most fervently.

To follow David these various groups of soldiers had to defect from their old loyalties. This was a life-or-death decision for these men. That's what it is for us as well. No one can come to serve King Jesus without defecting from other loyalties. Some of you here have become American citizens. When you did, you stood in a courtroom and raised your right hand and said, "I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen." That is what we vow to Christ our King! Serving Christ requires no less allegiance, no weaker a vow!

When David made that demand of people, look what happened: "Then the Spirit clothed Amasai, chief of the thirty, and he said, 'We are yours, O David, and with you, O son of Jesse! Peace, peace to you, and peace to your helpers! For your God helps you.'" This soldier uttered more than a loyalty oath; it was a kind of prophecy. We could turn this into our own loyalty oath to the Lord Jesus: "We are yours, O Christ! We are with you, O Son of Jesse! Peace, Peace to you, and peace to your helpers, for your God helps you!"

The mighty men listed in these chapters came to David from all their different tribes and loyalties and something wonderful happened. Look at verse 22: "Day after day men came to help David, until he had a great army, like the army of God." It is our unity under the banner of our King that makes us God's mighty army. Revelation 19 tells how in the last day, a vast army clad in white will ride out behind King Jesus to destroy his enemies once and for all. We will be in that cavalry, for we are the very army of God. This is our "band of brothers." And why do we fight for King Jesus? We fight now because we believe our King will prevail.

One day we will celebrate Christ's kingdom come.

For David, the great day of unity and of his coronation finally came. You can see in verses 23-37 how fighting men from every one of the 12 tribes came to David's side. Look at verses 38-40:

All these, men of war, arrayed in battle order, came to Hebron with full intent to make David king over all Israel. Likewise, all the rest of Israel were of a single mind to make David king. And they were there with David for three days, eating and drinking, for their brothers had made preparation for them. And also their relatives, from as far as Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, came bringing food on donkeys and on camels and on mules and on oxen, abundant provisions of flour, cakes of figs, clusters of raisins, and wine and oil, oxen and sheep, for there was joy in Israel.

What happened then foreshadows what we have to look forward to on the day that Jesus is crowned King. It is the reason why we persevere when the fight is difficult and the labor is long. One day our King will be crowned King of kings and Lord of lords, and we shall be there to cheer. One day we will gather to feast at the table of our King, a victory celebration when all our weapons and armor is laid aside, when no more heartaches or sacrifices will be required of us, when faith shall be sight, and we shall be safely home. And I love that last line: "For there was joy in Israel." Oh, such joy will be ours on that great day! The Puritan Thomas Brooks put it this way: It shall be a day "as the day of harvest to the farmer, as the day of deliverance to the prisoner, as a day of coronation to the king, and as the day of marriage to the bride."


Fight on, brother! Do not give up, sister! Do not fear that giant. Be strong and courageous against that threatening temptation. "The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress." And the final day of our King's victory is not far off!

Lee Eclov recently retired after 40 years of local pastoral ministry and now focuses on ministry among pastors. He writes a weekly devotional for preachers on Preaching Today.

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Sermon Outline:


I. We serve a King who is worth fighting for.

II. We help our King most by our loyalty to him.

III. One day we will celebrate Christ's kingdom come.