A Man of Strong Character

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

2 Samuel 19:31-32 (NIV)
Barzillai the Gileadite also came down from Rogelim to cross the Jordan with the king and to send him on his way from there. Now Barzillai was very old, eighty years of age. He had provided for the king during his stay in Mahanaim, for he was a very wealthy man.

2 Samuel 19:31-32 (MSG)
Barzillai the Gileadite had come down from Rogelim. He crossed the Jordan with the king to give him a good send-off. Barzillai was a very old man—eighty years old! He had supplied the king’s needs all the while he was in Mahanaim since he was very wealthy.
“Now Barzillai the Gileadite came down from Rogelim and went on to the Jordan with the king to escort him over the Jordan. Barzillai was a very old man, eighty years old; and he had provided the king with food while he stayed at Mahanaim, for he was a very great and wealthy man.” -AMPLIFIED

We first met Barzillai in 2 Samuel 17:27-29, when he and two others came out to minister to the needs of David and his people as they fled from Absalom. “When David arrived at Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash from Ammonite Rabbah, and Makir son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim brought beds and blankets, bowls and jugs filled with wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans and lentils, honey, and curds and cheese from the flocks and herds. They presented all this to David and his army to eat, “because,” they said, “the army must be starved and exhausted and thirsty out in this wilderness.” (MSG)

Once again we find this loyal, elderly man coming out to meet David. This time David was not running for his life, but returning as the rightful king. Scripture gives a few insightful glimpses into Barzillai and his character:
1. He was old, 80 years old, and still working to do good.
2. He used his resources for the glory of God.
3. He was generous with what he had.
4. His name meant “iron” and we find that he had a strong, godly character.
5. He was loyal to both God and his king.

Let us notice how this old man came out once again to meet his king. He was 80 years old, yet he still came down to cross over the Jordan with king; basically bringing his family to escort the king while crossing the Jordan.

David took note of Barzillai’s faithfulness and loyalty to him. Here was this old man who much like the highland chiefs of old went out of his way to show loyalty, courtesy, hospitality and passionate love for his king. Remember, there were not too many others who came out to support the fleeing king and on the flip side we do not find too many coming out to support the returning king. Yet, here is this 80 year old man going out of his way to be sure that he and his family are there to accompany the king back to his rightful throne. That is loyalty!

David saw and realized that he had a faithful subject in Barzillai. He was so moved by Barzillai’s loyalty that he wanted to do something special for Barzillai. David made this proposition to Barzillai, “Cross over with me, and come to Jerusalem. I’ll take care of you and give you a place of honor at my side.” -2 Samuel 19:33 (VOICE)

To which Barzillai replied, “My king, how many years do I have left, that I should leave my home and relocate with the king to Jerusalem? I am too old for court life. I am 80 years old today. My judgment is not as good as it used to be. I can’t taste my food, enjoy my drink, or even hear the pleasant singing of men and women. So why should you burden yourself with me, my lord and king? I will travel a little farther with you across the Jordan, but you don’t owe me anything more for my hospitality. Why should you, my king, offer me such a handsome reward? Please grant me your favor to return home, to die among my own people near the resting places of my parents. But do consider your servant Chimham. Let him come with you, and may you honor Chimham as you see fit.” -2 Samuel 19:34-37 (VOICE)

David agreed to this plan. Later down the road we also find David honoring Barzillai’s family once again for their faithful, loyalty to him. On his deathbed we find David charging Solomon with these words, “But be gracious and kind to the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be among those who [have the honor to] eat at your table; for they met me [with kindness] when I fled from your brother Absalom.” -2 Kings 2:7 (AMP)

David agreed to Barillai’s plan. Scripture tells us, “Chimham will cross the river with me, and I will treat him as seems good to you. Anything you want from me, I will do for you. Then the king and all the people crossed over the Jordan. David kissed Barzillai and wished him well, and Barzillai returned home. The king, along with Chimham, went on to Gilgal, accompanied by all the people of Judah and half the people of Israel.” -2 Samuel 19:38-40 (VOICE)

What can we learn from Barzillai?
1. You are never too old to do good things for God and others.
2. Use what you have to honor God and He will reward you.
3. Be generous; you can never out-give God.
4. Be strong in character. Barzillai’s reputation lived on longer than he did.
5. Be loyal and faithful to those in authority over you.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.” -Romans 12:1 (NIV)

“So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.” -1 Peter 1:5-9 (MSG)

Be people of strong, godly character! Let us make a difference in this world that we live in!

My Prayer:
Lord, help me to be a person of godly character. Work in my life the fruits of your Spirit. Help me to strive for moral excellence. Develop your agape love in my life, I pray. Form me into the image of your Son, Jesus; because I want to be a reflection of Him to the World around me.