Before and After

“David departed from there and escaped to the cave at Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul gathered to him. And he became captain over them.” 1 Samuel 22:1-2

“These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-basshebeth… wielded his spear against eight hundred whom he killed at one time. And next to him among the three mighty men was Eleazar, [who] was with David when they defied the Philistines. He rose and struck [them] down until his hand was weary, and his hand clung to the sword. And next to him was Shammah. The Philistines gathered together at Lehi, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the men fled from the Philistines. But he took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and struck down the Philistines, and the Lord worked a great victory. And three of the thirty chief men went down and came about harvest time to David at the cave of Adullam, in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem. And David said longingly, ‘Oh, that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!’ Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and carried and brought it to David… Now Abishai, the brother of Joab, was chief of the thirty. And he wielded his spear against three hundred men and killed them and won a name beside the three. He was the most renowned of the thirty and became their commander, but he did not attain to the three. And Benaiah was a valiant man, a doer of great deeds. He struck down two ariels of Moab. He also went down and struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen. And he struck down an Egyptian [who] had a spear in his hand, but Benaiah went down to him with a staff and snatched the spear out of the [his] hand and killed him with his own spear. He was renowned among the thirty, but he did not attain to the three. And David set him over his bodyguard.” 2 Samuel 23:8-16,18-21,23

Isn’t it amazing what God, good leadership, and time can do to transform people? We have all seen remarkable before and after images, but none is so startling, and so beautiful to me, as these in scripture. Who on earth would choose those who are all Ds- distressed, in debt, and discontent- to become his A-team? Yet God used these very men to develop His leader David, and through him, the men themselves. Hardship and stress pressed everywhere as David was pursued and his resolve and trust in God’s call tested, but he persevered. David had to discern and develop skills and character in his team for them to combat the enemy effectively, and he did so with God’s help. His Lord proved Himself over and over, and as David’s faith and skills grew, so did those of his followers.

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In an age when military duty in most places is not mandatory, and the setting apart of “teenagers” and promoting of extended adolescence are accepted as a norm, it can be a challenge to effect the kind of transformation recorded here. But isn’t this what Jesus does spiritually for us all? He came to earth to live among us ‘losers,’ disobedient and distant enemies of God, strangers to Him, and won our hearts on the cross. He transformed us from children of wrath to His own, saving us, raising us up with Him to new life and a seat in the heavenlies. If this is what He can do, and does, for us spiritually, He can do anything for us and those we love practically! He is the original and best author of Before and After for our sin habits, attitudes, marriages, rebel hearts, relationships, weaknesses. Where do I need a metamorphosis today? (Romans 5:6,10; Ephesians 2:1-7)

Lord and Redeemer, You are the Artist of transformation. You give a new spirit, You turn hearts of stone onto hearts of flesh. You redeem, restore, reconcile, make new. You are able to make all grace abound, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, we may turn from our worldly ways and abound in every good work. Have Your way with me, that I may be a mighty man that honors You. (Ezekiel 11:19;36:26; 2 Corinthians 9:8)

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