Most of us live in a world where the main excitement and danger exist in showing our friends where the cat "scratched my arm while getting her off the couch." It's an insulated society, right? And it may explain the popularity of the X Games and such.
But back in the days when the Bible was being written, life had more rough and tumble to it. Sandals instead of shoes. Brooms instead of vacuum cleaners. People used swords and spears, not long-range missiles. When you grilled your supper, it was an open flame in the kitchen with the smoke going up through a hole in the roof. And yeah, no air conditioning or central heating either (unless you count the fire you were grilling over).
Even for those days, though, Benaiah was an outlier. He grew up during the time of King David, and earned himself a reputation as a brave and mighty fighter. You'll find him described in 2 Samuel this way:
"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. 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."
The point we want to focus on here is that sentence about the lion. The first minor point to notice is that this event is during the wintertime. Not the best time to be running around in sandals, right? And if he was dressed like a typical warrior of the day, we're also talking bare legs and arms. It was COLD out there! Benaiah may have thought that as cold as it was, he needed to do something to warm himself up. And of course like we all would choose to do, he decided to jump down into a big hole in the ground that just happened to contain a roaring lion. Even Daniel didn't get into the den of lions on purpose - but Benaiah did!
We're not talking about a tame little kitty cat here either, but a 400-500 pound collection of teeth, claws, and bad humor. A cat that can jump thirty feet if it's got a good start, and kill an antelope with the swat of a paw. But Benaiah didn't let any of those niceties get in his way. Spear in hand, he climbed down into the pit and the faceoff began. The writer of Samuel doesn't give us blow-by-blow details, but it's unlikely that Benaiah came through the fight unhurt. But he stuck to the plan, and fought his way through. And when the victor climbed out of the pit, it wasn't the lion shaking blood from his paws, it was Benaiah, the lion fighter.
In the coming years, King David recognized this young man as someone he'd like to have in his corner. After all, he had also killed at least one lion while growing up, and knew what it took to make it through the battle. The writer of 2 Samuel tells us later that David put him in charge of his bodyguard, which is a true badge of honor. When Benaiah's children would ask, "What did you do at work today, Daddy?" they had to be impressed when he told them, "I protected the king!"
So how does this story apply to us? I look at it this way. There are few of us who would dare to jump into a pit with even a raccoon these days, let alone a lion. But God is always on the lookout for the times that He can place an opportunity in front of us to improve who we are, and what we can do for Him. Afraid to give a Bible study? He'll help you with that. Not sure you have the nerve to do special music? Trust Him and see where He'll take you. Afraid of that big test in school next week? Ask for His guidance while you study and improve.
In short, God can and will take you places you've never dreamed of. Maybe not into a snowy pit with a growly lion, but in places that will be challenging to who we are as Christians. But have no fear, God's got your back and has given you everything you need to succeed. As Dr. Seuss famously said in his book Oh, the Places You'll Go, "You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes..." (not sandals!) So go ahead, get out there and start looking for that snowy pit that God has waiting for you to conquer. - Dave Fairchild