After behaving so wisely in the palace, David, the anointed king, was content to wait upon God notwithstanding the threats of Saul. He had been divinely protected from Saul's violence and meekly endured his envy. But the situation became more desperate when Saul vowed to kill him (1 Sam 20.33). As a result David panicked and his faith failed. He gave way to falsehood, fear, and folly (1 Sam 21.10-15), touching depths of shame and humiliation as he was unceremoniously despatched by Achish. "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor 10.12). David escaped to Adullam where his faith was renewed. Psalm 34 records his experiences there. One has rightly said, "The cave became the birthplace of the kingdom". It also suggests many helpful thoughts for us.
The mighty men of 2 Samuel 23 were mainly men who joined David when he fled from Saul, and began his exile as the rejected king. These men were weary of Saul's reign; they were distressed, debtors, discontents who "gathered themselves unto David and he became a captain over them" (1 Sam 22.2). They were lovers of David, attracted by him, admirers of him, attached to him. They remembered how much they owed him; they sought and found refuge with him: "with me thou shalt be in safeguard" (v.23).
Our experience as believers corresponds with this. For similar reasons we have gathered unto our heavenly David (our Beloved) in a place of refuge; the assembly is such a place, where He fits us for service and suffering. Christ in love and grace has received us, removed our discontent, relieved our distress, and remitted our debt. The disciples no doubt felt safe in the company of Christ: they were chosen to be with Him, and often we read of the twelve with Him, listening, looking and learning. Do we delight to be with Him?
For David it was a time of suffering and sorrow, reproach and rejection, training for reigning, and these men were prepared to share David's afflictions, "the fellowship of his sufferings". This plainly parallels our situation as we identify with the rejected Christ. A usurper rules the world and we have a choice to make. Are we ready to "go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach" (Heb 13.13), separated and consecrated (see Rom 12.1-2)? It is not easy in the current political, religious, and social climate to be associated with New Testament assemblies. Conviction and constancy are required. There is increasing reproach to bear, and it is likely that in the near future there will be persecution to endure. May the Lord keep us faithful to His Word.
The troubles of these men who had joined David were soon forgotten in his company. They had ample resources - the grace of David as their present portion; the glory of David their future prospect. What of our present portion? We have "the God of all grace"; and for the future, "eternal glory" (1 Pet 5.10). Besides David the king, there was Gad the prophet and Abiathar the priest in their midst, all moral and spiritual resources. So have we all the resources needful - "his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness". Christ in our midst is Prophet, Priest, and King, but do we avail ourselves of our spiritual resources?
The men who came to David at great risk to themselves served him faithfully and defended him valiantly. David's leadership and example made them "mighty men". They became separated, strong, skilful, steadfast, swift (1 Chr 12.8). They were rewarded when David came to the throne (1 Chr 11.10-47), and still remembered at the conclusion of his reign (2 Sam 23.1-39). There have been, and are still today, many mighty men of valour, like Gideon; mighty men in word and deed, like Moses; mighty men in the Scriptures, like Apollos. Let us aim to be among God's mighty men and women in our day and generation. Such men and their works will be remembered and rewarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Let us bear in mind that we cannot all do great exploits for God, but we can all endeavour to be more like our blessed Lord in character, conduct, and conversation. "What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God" (Micah 6.8).