Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Stories You Might Have Missed: Abishai

     It always tickles me to find someone who hasn't heard a particular Bible story.  I start talking about one of my favorites, and somebody says, "You're kidding!  That's in there!?!?!?"
     My dad had a similar experience the other day.  He and a friend (I'll call him Frank) were swapping stories of tough Bible characters -- you know, the kind that could be on an action adventure movie -- and my dad started talking about Abishai.
Artos, from Pendragon: Sword of His Father
Perhaps Abishai looked something like this?
(Artos, son of the Pendragon
Pendragon: Sword of His Father
via Pinterest)
     Now Abishai was a mighty warrior, loyal to David even before David became king.
     For those of you who don't know anything about David, let me catch you up.  David was a mighty warrior himself, and God was with him.  He won many victories for Saul the king -- so many that his renown was greater than the king's.  Needless to say, Saul was fiercely jealous against David.  He made several attempts to kill him -- all of which failed.  Finally David fled altogether and began living on the run.  Men flocked to David, and he soon had his own band (like a small army).  It makes me think a little bit of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, without the robbing and stealing. 
    Saul set out after David, determined to track him down and kill him.  There were some exciting times as David and his men narrowly avoided detection.
    Then, as Saul continued to hunt David, some townspeople squealed on David.
Now the Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “Is David not hiding in the hill of Hachilah, opposite Jeshimon?” 
     So Saul headed out to find David.  Hearing of this, David sent some of his spies out who returned the report that Saul had indeed come.  Then David went to a place overlooking Saul's camp one night.  And David decided to sneak down into the midst of the camp.  He looked to two of his men (Ahimelech and Abishai) and said, "Who will go down with me?"
     What would you answer?  If the leader of your band wanted to stroll into the camp of the people trying to kill him, would you go with him?  But Abishai said,
“I will go down with you.”
     So David and Abishai crept down into the camp in the middle of the night.  They made it all the way to the center of the camp where Saul lay asleep.  Standing over the enemy, Abishai said to David,
 “God has delivered your enemy into your hand this day. Now therefore, please, let me strike him at once with the spear, right to the earth; and I will not have to strike him a second time!”
      That is one tough dude.  Already, I have a pretty good idea of what kind of man Abishai was, and I'd rather not have him as an enemy.
      David didn't let him kill Saul; he had a much wiser plan.  You can read the whole story in 1 Samuel 26.

     But here is another story with Abishai.  This is much later in history.  David had been king for many years, and one of his sons rose up to take the throne from him by force.  Instead of fighting his own son and his own people in their initial storming of the throne, David left.  As he and his men were escaping, a man named Shimei followed them, throwing rocks and cursing and calling David names.  Abishai didn't much care for this so he said to David,
“Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Please, let me go over and take off his head!”
     In my imagination, I see Abishai under the raining rocks and dirt and curses, throwing an angry sideways glance at Shimei and pleading with David for permission to take this guy out.
     David didn't let Abishai harm Shimei either; again, he had a much wiser plan.  There's a reason David was king and Abishai was not.  ;)  [You can read the story of Abishai and Shimei in 2 Samuel 16.]  Sometimes I think David had his hands full, keeping Abishai in line.  But, still, if I were in battle, Abishai is the man I would want with me.  The same was true for David -- Abishai saved his life in battle once.  Here is the story:
When the Philistines were at war again with Israel, David and his servants with him went down and fought against the Philistines; and David grew faint. Then Ishbi-Benob, who was one of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose bronze spear was three hundred shekels, who was bearing a new sword, thought he could kill David. But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid, and struck the Philistine and killed him.

     Can't you picture that battle?  Here are David and his men fighting against the Philistine army.  Then David grows weak.  It doesn't say why; who knows?  But one of the Philistines sees that David is vulnerable.  He dives in to kill David.  Can't you see the raging battle?  Can you hear the cries of fighting men and the clanging of swords and shields?  Can you see Abishai, fighting madly, look around and see that his king is in trouble?  Can you see him charging in and attacking the Philistine with all of this might?  That story can be found in 2 Samuel 21.

     Abishai was definitely one tough dude.

     Oddly enough, my dad's friend Frank had never heard of him.  He was thoroughly enamored with the stories, though.  It was one of those, "Man, I have GOT to meet this guy" moments, except instead of meeting we can only read about him for now.

     But how many other cool stories have you missed?  I have heard people read a Bible story in a monotone voice, glossing over stories that have so much life in them and making it sound like they are reading a grocery list.  That's why people miss the stories.  That's why, when you talk in admiration of this one tough dude who said "Let me strike him and I will not have to strike him a second time", people look at you with budding excitement and say, "THAT STORY IS IN THERE?!?!?!?"

     Yup.  It's in there.


  1. Man. Congratulations for making me decide to go read the Bible from cover-to-cover for a second time. I had no idea that story was in there, either. But then, when I read the Bible in full last time, I was probably around ten.

  2. Yay! This is my favorite comment ever!
    And I still find stories in the Bible that I somehow overlooked. It's so exciting to find them! And, occasionally, I learn new things about the well-known stories. One time I sat down with the story of Jesus' birth, and was surprised to find several things that I had wrong with the story!
    Let me know what cool stories you find this time through!

  3. Yes! Abishai is definitely a hero of mine! :-) He and his brothers were really go-getter guys!!
    By the way, did you know who Zeruiah was? It was only just recently that I noticed who was being blamed every time David turned to them and said "What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah?!"
    (Which I think is one of my current favorite quotes from the Bible! ;-) It's just so fun to say, and the emotion is so encapsulated in it!!! )
    Zeruiah was David's sister.
    Yep! Those boys were David's nephews! So Abishai could have been like "Uncle Daivd, let me kill 'im! Come on, Uncle David, just say the word!"

    Though with David being the youngest son of several kids, Zeruiah could have been married and had the boys while David was still young, and so they might have had more of a older-cousin/younger-cousin relationship. Hard to tell.

    The other thing I think is neat is their father isn't mentioned at all. They are known as "the sons of Zeruaiah", going only by their mother's name. Makes me wonder what that lady was like! ;-) She could have been one decisive woman!!! :-)

    Thanks for brightening my day! I just found your blog by following the Plot Bunny Challenge, which looks like fun. I might join, but the Anne-Girl doesn't want fantasy tales, and mine are mostly fantasy.
    Also, I'm already elbow deep in trying to wrap up my current ms, so I'm actually supposed to be writing that instead of here!!! ;-) (I'm sure you understand that predicament... :-) )
    Anyway, thanks, and I'll have to try and keep an eye on your blog!

  4. I did not realize that Zeruiah was David's sister. In fact, I was a little incredulous so I looked it up (this is always what you should do when you aren't sure about something) and sure enough, there it was in 1 Chronicles 2:13-16!
    So cool!
    And I, too, love the emotion in these awesome quotes. It gives you such a picture of life.

    I was delighted to have you visit my blog, and I hope you keep coming back!