2 Samuel 23:11-12
“And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentils: and the people fled from the Philistines.
But he stood in the midst of the ground and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory.”
In Chapter 23 of 2 Samuel the list of the mighty men of David and their feats and exploits are written as a testimony for all to read. It is amazing to read of a solitary man killing 800 of the enemy all by himself. Three men breaking through the entire Philistine army just to get water out of a well and bring it to their commander David who they had overheard just being thirsty. Risking their lives just to strengthen their leader with some water. One man went into a pit to slay a lion on a snowy day. One man fought the enemy when everyone else fled and kept swinging the sword until his hand was glued to it. A number of times we see the pattern of a battle, everyone else running away scared and one man staying to fight for the cause and prevailing. The Apostle Paul used a phrase in the New Testament of those “who hazarded their lives for the Lord Jesus”, and truly these men were of that nature. The men who killed Goliaths four brothers were all men who had been around David who had slain Goliath. Giant killers hang out with giant slayers.
The verses above tell of another mighty man and the battle he fought. The Philistines wanted a piece of land that had lentils. When the Israelites saw them coming, they fled. Except for one man named Shammah who defended the ground, stood right in the middle of it and defeated the Philistines. He killed them all. It is interesting that it says, “and the LORD wrought a great victory”. It was Shammah who risked his life to save a field of lentils, he was the one fighting but it says God was the one who accomplished it, the one who made it happen.
When you undertake a cause for God, when you take a stand for something of His heart, He is able to accomplish something He could not have if you had not been willing to take ownership of an objective of His heart. The field of lentils belonged to the people of God. The field was attacked by the enemy. Everyone fled except for Shammah. Is it any different today for some? I remember reading this passage countless times over the years and it always puzzled me because this man was risking everything for a field of lentils. I could never understand what is so important about a field of lentils. Lentils are lens shaped seeds, a type of pulse. I have my wife boil and eat them and it is just a food, but worth risking your life for?
Hidden in this story as in many stories in the Bible are gems of revelation not for the purpose of information but transformation. Obviously this is a great story of courage to inspire the same in you and I to take a stand and fight for what we think is important and to do so whether or not anyone does so. That is what Shammah did. The word “defended” is a fascinating word. It means to “deliver”, to “rescue”, to “recover”. Yet it also means “to strip oneself”. To me it would indicate the complete surrendering of oneself to the cause of defending this field.
What you find out about lentils is that it was known as the food that was eaten primarily by the poor who could not eat more expensive foods. It was food for those who did not even have access to other foods. It was in jewish culture eaten with boiled eggs at funerals. It’s round shape symbolized the cycle of life from birth unto death. What was Shammah fighting for? He was fighting for the poor who had a right to the sustenance of lentils to live. They were valuable. God loves the poor. Jesus came to preach the gospel to the poor. We were never to ignore them. There is something about the poor that turns people off instead of attracting us to them, especially in the west. Unless the poor are to become respectable citizens of society, we see no need to help them unconditionally yet the Bible says in Leviticus to leave a part of the field of harvest for the poor to come and take whatever they needed. No talk here of expecting them to take a course on how to prosper and make it on your own. I completely believe that poverty is to be abolished and transformation of culture to see everyone prosper is to be sought but in the meantime you give to the poor. Why? Because God says so, they need to be loved, fed, clothed, and to do it to them is to do it to Jesus. It is part of God’s chosen fast in Isaiah 58.
The righteous consider the cause of the poor. But the wicked regardeth not to know it(Pr 29:7). One of the reasons God judged Sodom is because she did not “strengthen the hand of the poor and needy”.(Ez 16:49) Jesus said to make a feast and “call the poor”. Just flat out love and feed them without any thought of reward.
“He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he had given will he pay again”. The word “pity” means to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior, to bestow favor, to bow down, to decline and also to encamp there. This is a lifestyle not an offering once a year. This is not an emotional plea through pictures to stir someone to give but a mindset that knows that to love the poor is to satisfy one aspect of His heart in doing so.
To see the poor is to open thine hand wide unto him….God commands it in Deuteronomy 15. He does speak of a time when there will be no poor in the land but if there is one poor, one needy, you are to meet the need. To judge, take into consideration the cause of the poor and needy is to know Him the Bible says in Jeremiah 22:16.