In the latest Marvel Avengers movie, the superheroes chase after six stones that will give them the power to defeat a great evil. I believe men today can learn more from the story of David about being a strong, godly man than from the movies. David, before he battled the giant Goliath, selected five smooth stones from the nearby stream. Using this concept, I am sharing six articles about the biblical definition of manhood.
In my first two articles, I explained the lessons of courage and loyalty stones. The next story from David is about the Honor Stone. As I write this article, I am watching the St. Louis Blues play the Boston Bruins Stanley Cup hockey game. No matter who wins, hockey players have the tradition of lining up and shaking the hands of the other team. Even though both teams hit each other hard and try their hardest to win, when the game is over the men will honor each other with a handshake of respect.
As a teenager, David left his father’s house and lived in the court of King Saul. Initially, Saul admired David’s courage when he defeated Goliath. Later, Saul loved it when David played the harp as music soothed the King’s headaches. In the next couple of years, Saul began to hate David for being so successful and popular with the people. Saul’s jealousy led him to try to kill David.
When David finally had to flee for his life, but he did not go alone. Around 400 of his brothers, family, and loyal friends went with David. The group eventually hid in the mountain cave region in the Desert of En Gedi. The King’s spies reported David’s movement. So with an army of 3,000, King Saul went after David towards the region of En Gedi which has hundreds of deep, dark caves. As David is hiding way back in a cave, he is surprised as along come King Saul by himself.
3 (Saul) came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and (he) went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. 4 The men said, “This is the day the LORD spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’ “Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.
1 Sam 24:3-4 (NIV)
For David’s men, it appeared that God was giving David the perfect opportunity to kill the King. But David did not kill Saul. David had a deep sense of what God wanted – being a man of character, honor, and respect. So David honored God’s choice – Saul the first king of Israel. To appeal to Saul’s honor, David chooses to cut the tassels off Saul’s robe as a way to prove he had passed on the opportunity to kill him.
1. A Man of Honor respects authority and will not compromise his integrity.
Saul made his way out of the cave unaware of his close call with death. I can imagine David’s men being amazed that their leader had the courage and faith to walk out of the cave to face Saul and his 3,000 men! David’s first stone of manhood was courage and he needed it here.
10 This day you have seen with your own eyes how the LORD delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lift my hand against my master, because he is the LORD’s anointed.’ 11 See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. Now understand and recognize that I am not guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. 12 May the LORD judge between you and me. And may the LORD avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. 13 As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.
1 Sam 24:10-13
2. A Man of Honor respects God as the ultimate judge of wrongs and does not take revenge.
Men, we waste too much energy on being angry and wanting revenge. Be a man who is respected by others for making choices that respect God. David was so convinced of God’s power, justice, and plan that he did not rationalize a poor decision to take Saul’s life.
Men, when others do not show you respect, do not become angry and act foolishly. I like what the Apostle Paul wrote to the early Christians who were being mistreated.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:17-21 (NIV)
David overcame Saul’s evil with his good traits of respect, humility, and courage. David was in control of himself and did not allow the bad behavior or wrong choices of others to justify an ungodly decision. In the great moment of courage and respect, King Saul had a remorseful reply to David.
16 When David finished saying this, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud. 17 “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. 18 You have just now told me of the good you did to me; the LORD delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. 19 When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the LORD reward you well for the way you treated me today. 20 I know that you will surely be King and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands. 21 Now swear to me by the LORD that you will not cut off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.”
22 So David gave his oath to Saul. Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.
1 Sam 24:16-22 (NIV)
I would love to say that the story ends here with Saul and David living peacefully with each other. But the truth is Saul’s temporary change of heart did not last. Saul was consumed with his own sin and once again went after David with 3,000 men, and once again, David spares Saul’s life.
3. A Man of Honor is wise and wary of untrustworthy people.
Men, living and working with untrustworthy people is a very real challenge. We should expect to be opposed or at least tempted to compromise our faith by men who are not pursuing God. Jesus told his disciples, “Be innocent as doves and wise as serpents. Men of faith, live with hope, courage, and love but know that sin and evil are very present in this world.
Jesus also taught – “Do not cast your pearls before swine.” Do not trust your life, character, and reputation with people who do not respect and honor God. Be like David, who was not perfect but stayed with fellow men who were loyal and honored God. With the stones of courage, loyalty, and honor, you will be a man that God will bless and others will respect.
Paul Arnold is a husband, father, grandfather, and currently serves as a chaplain to a senior living facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He hosts several podcasts – Man to Man (career advice for men) and Pardon the Confusion (Sports) that are found on iTunes and www.redcircle.com