Raising Courageous Warriors
God's words to Joshua as he was about to lead God's people into the Promised Land were, "Be thou strong and VERY COURAGEOUS." It was not enough to be courageous. God needed him to be VERY courageous.
As he was nearing death, King David encouraged his son, Solomon with these words, "Be thou strong therefore, and show thyself a man" (1 Kings 2:2). The Holman Christian Standard Bible says, "Be strong and be courageous like a man." I like the Knox Version. Whenever it talks about being strong and courageous, he translates it, "Play the man." In other words, to act like a man means to be strong and courageous. It is the essence of manhood.
How old was Solomon when he became king? Some commentaries say 12 years old. The historian, Josephus says 14 years old while other commentaries say 20 years old. Whatever is correct, he was a very young man, and yet expected to be strong and courageous to take on the governing of a nation, a nation that became the richest and most prosperous nation in the world at that time under his rule (1 Chronicles 22:5; 29:1).
What Are Your Expectations?
We have lessened our expectations for young men today. In fact, it seems this nation wants to dumb them down. They are frowned on for doing manly things and babied into their twenties. Yes, mothers, we'll mother and smother our little baby sons, but as they grow, we'll take our hands off, let go of fear, allow them to grow into men, and let them be adventurous--at a young age!
Why do so many young men get into trouble in their teens? There's never meant to be a teen stage. By the time they are 13, they should be training towards manhood, have opportunity to do manly things, and act like men. Jewish boys have their Bar Mitzvah at 13 years and it is called a coming of age ceremony. They should be learning to face life with tenacity, courage, and strength.
They should seek to find jobs and earn extra money for "things they want" instead of expecting their parents to provide everything. To provide and to protect are God-ordained giftings of manhood and they should begin this training early. They should be preparing to think about providing for the future. Young men can begin a home business with something that is a passion in their lives. Sometimes this business can lead to their future livelihood.
I remember visiting with a dear friend in New Zealand, Lois Jordan, who was the artist for Above Rubies when we began this ministry 36 years ago! She shared with me how that as they homeschooled their son, they noticed he was very interested in horticulture. They encouraged him in his passion and he began to sell his plants and produce and did very well. By the time he was 18 years, he already had $20,000 in the bank in readiness to provide a home for his future wife and family.
Training Brave and Courageous Leaders
When we read about the young men of the Bible, we are amazed at their courage and bravery. They portray a different picture from many young men today. Let's look at some of them...
Othniel (Judges 1:12-13; 3:9-11). God raised up Othniel as the first judge of Israel because he was a young man who loved challenges. When Caleb put out the challenge that whoever captured Kirjath-sepher (which was a stronghold of giants) could have his daughter to be his wife, he was the one who conquered it. Othniel delivered Israel from King Cushan-rishathaim whose name means "double wickedness." He rose up against great evil and delivered his nation.
Shamgar (Judges 3:31). He slew 600 Philistines with an ox-goad! He was only a peasant and didn't own any weapons of war, but just used what he had at hand! An ox goad is a long pointed stick which they used to poke the ox and goad it to move. The back end often had a shovel-like instrument to clean the plow. That's all he had to face 600 armed Philistines!
Jashobeam (1 Chronicles 11:11). He killed 300 men with his spear in one battle.
Saul and Jonathan (2 Samuel 1:23). They were swifter than eagles and stronger than lions.
David (1 Samuel 17:34-37). David was not afraid of lions and bears. If they captured one of his lambs, he would rescue the lamb right out of its mouth. If it turned on him, he'd catch it by the jaw and club it to death. He wasn't afraid of giants and killed Goliath (believed to be 9' 6" tall) while in his youth (1 Samuel 17:33) and won hundreds of battles for Israel.
Eleazar (1 Chronicles 11:12-14). One time the Israelis were fighting against the Philistines in a field full of barley. The Israelite army fled in fear, but Eleazar and David, on their own, held their ground in the middle of the field and fought back the Philistines, and gained the victory.
Abishai (1 Chronicles 11:20). He also slew 300 men with a spear.
Benaaiah (1 Chronicles 11:22-23). He himself was the son of a valiant warrior. Mighty warrior fathers raise brave warrior sons (Psalm 127: 4-5). He did many heroic deeds including killing two Moabite champions who were "lionlike men." He killed an Egyptian warrior who was 7 1/2 feet tall and whose spear was as thick as a weaver's beam. He wrenched the spear from his hand and killed him with his own spear! And one snowy day, just for something to do, he chased a lion down into a pit and killed it!
Zadok (1 Chronicles 12:28). He was called "a young man mighty of valor" The word "young man" is na'ar in the Hebrew and means "from infancy to adolescence, a child." It is translated child 51 times, lad 33 times, and young or youth 21 times. It is even translated babe in Exodus 2:6, talking of baby Moses. These Scriptures talk about young men, not older men.
Here are some further descriptions of the young valiant men of Israel.
"Among Benjamin's elite troops, 700 were left-handed, and each of them could sling a rock and hit a target within a hairsbreadth without missing" (Judges 20:16 NLT).
"Valiant men, men able to bear buckler and sword, and to shoot with bow, and skillful in war" (1 Chronicles 5:18).
"Mighty men, helpers of the war. They were armed with bows, and could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow" (1 Chronicles 12:1-2).
"Men of might, and men of war fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains" (1 Chronicles 12:8).
"Mighty men of valor... ready armed to the war" (1 Chronicles 12:21-25). Over and over again the Bible tells us about "mighty men of valor" (1 Chronicles 7:2-11, 40; 8:40). They were not only men of valor, but MIGHTY men of valor! God chose courageous men to deliver Israel from their enemies, not wimps. How would you like to be the mother of "outstanding men, brave and valiant warriors (Hebrew: gibborim and chayilim), and distinguished leaders"? (1 Chronicles 8:40). The Message Bible describes them as, "responsible, excellent in character, and brave in battle--good leaders." This doesn't just happen. It takes prayer and training.
"Expert in war" 1 Chronicles 2:33-36). We could go on and on telling the stories of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, and so many more (Hebrews 11: 32-40).
Standing for Righteousness
It wasn't only their physical prowess that made them courageous, but their stand for justice and righteousness. I think of the courage of Phinehas. In the midst of God bringing judgment upon the Israelites because of their committing whoredom with the daughters of Moab, a prince of Israel brought a Midianite woman into his tent! Phinehas rose up with righteous indignation, went into the tent after them, and thrust them both through with a javelin. His righteous act caused God to stop the plague and Phinehas was blessed with the promise of God's "covenant of peace" and "an everlasting priesthood" (Numbers 25:1-18).
What about Josiah? He was made king of Judah when he was only eight years old. At 16 years, "while he was yet young, he began to seek after God" (2 Chronicles 34:3). At the age of 20 he rose up in the authority of His God and began to purge the land from all the evil practices. He demolished all the altars of Baal, cut down all the idols, and beat the graven images into powder throughout all the land of Israel (2 Chronicles 34:3-7).
God not only commanded Joshua to be very courageous, but to observe and do all God's commandments, to be focused, and "turn not from it to the right hand or to the left" (Joshua 1:7-9). King David not only exhorted his young son, Solomon to be courageous, but to "keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies" (1 Kings 2:3).
Fighting for Truth and Integrity
It takes a young man of strength to seek the truth and walk in it. It takes a young man of courage to stand against the tide of public opinion and walk in God's ways, no matter what the ridicule. I talked to a young man recently who, although he says he does not believe in abortion and gay marriage, which is endorsed by our current administration, he sides with them because of the handouts! How sad. God is looking for young men who are not one of the "uninformed voters" but who seek truth and stand for truth, no matter what cost to themselves.
Let's raise young men who will keep the charge of the Lord and walk in the ways of the Lord in the midst of a deceived society. Let's raise young men who are not weaklings, but who are training for spiritual warfare. 2 Timothy 2:3-4 says, "Thou therefore ENDURE HARDNESS, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier." Let's raise men, not wimps!
What About Our Daughters?
Where do our daughters come into this? It is interesting that when the Bible talks about men of "valor" it is the Hebrew word, chayil. It is noteworthy that they translate this very same word as "virtuous" when speaking about women (Ruth 3:11; Proverb 12:4; 31:10, 29). This word is also translated as "able, mighty, power, strength, including 54 references to war and armies." Although we want our daughters to act femininely and like princesses of the King of kings, we must also raise them to be brave and courageous. We are not raising insipid, wimpy youth, but young people who are strong--physically, emotionally, and spiritually.