May 13

A Day for Valiant and Mighty Men

No civilization ever flourishes if it debases either manhood or womanhood. Both God’s creation and His Word have laid out patterns for manhood and womanhood that lead to their mutual honor as image bearers of God and the mutual flourishing for individual, family and culture.

To debase one sex is to distort the other. However, neither chauvinists nor feminists have been necessary or sufficient to degrade the way manhood is considered in our modern day. Men have done it to ourselves. Allow me to briefly give you three examples. First, pornography has become a more profitable business in the United States today than all the big sports leagues combined. This does not happen with only a small subset of men (and I use the word loosely) leering at their computer screens alone in the dark. It only happens when it becomes the norm. Second, the largest single market for both computer games and comic books used to be juvenile boys. Today, the largest market for both is men from 25-45. Third, sixty percent of children in the U.S. will live most of their childhood separated from their birth father. One-third of children will go to bed tonight without any male/father figure in the home. That is indicative of a lot of men shirking their responsibilities. For most of today’s men, the forties are the new twenties and the thirties are the new teens. If ever there was a day in need of some valiant and mighty men, this is the day.

Our reading is dominated by men whose names are recorded but unfamiliar. They are described frequently in these chapters as valiant and mighty men. They are men of courage and conviction. These men are no John Wayne or Tony Soprano type of men, motivated by testosterone, machismo and pride. These men are not interested in fame. I think they would be just fine with the fact that we’ve never heard of them. They acted “according to the word of the Lord” (11:10), for the good of the Lord’s anointed (11:18-19), and because they desired to serve the one who fought alongside the Lord. (12:18) They did mighty works not for their own glory but for the glory of the Lord. They did not shirk their responsibility because it was hard or costly. Consider the risk taken by the valiant men of Jabesh-Gilead who risked all to remove the body of King Saul from the very gates of the Philistines so that the Lord’s anointed would not be so debased.

When the New Testament seeks to define manhood in Ephesians 5, it points not to a battlefield, a boardroom, or a bank account, but to a cross. Jesus is the ultimate picture of manhood. He took on his broad shoulders the responsibility and weight of the sin of the world. He sacrificed himself holding nothing back.

The strength of manhood is found in his service and sacrifice for others. This is a day in need of valiant and mighty men!

Men, look to Christ for your model of manhood. Wives, pray for and honor your husband. Single women, accept no pretenders. Young men, assume responsibility and serve in strength.