Paying Attention

A few wise men or thousands of fools?

Large numbers of people are helpful in the right context, but unless at least a few of those people are prudent, discerning, and able to lead, a powerful army may deteriorate into an angry mob.

David received the affirmation of the entire nation without exception. People were attracted to follow him.

These are the numbers of armed warriors who joined David at Hebron. They were all eager to see David become king instead of Saul, just as the Lord had promised. From the tribe of Judah, there were 6,800 warriors armed with shields and spears. From the tribe of Simeon, there were 7,100 brave warriors. From the tribe of Levi, there were 4,600 warriors. This included Jehoiada, leader of the family of Aaron, who had 3,700 under his command. This also included Zadok, a brave young warrior, with 22 members of his family who were all officers. (1 Chronicles 12:23–28, NLT)

David undoubtedly appreciated the thousands who came to his side at Hebron, but the 200 men of Issachar were especially important.

From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders of the tribe with their relatives. All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take.” (1 Chronicles 12:32, NLT)

Without the men from Issachar to provide the strategic wisdom, the David’s mighty army would’ve been merely a mindless militia. The men of Issachar were singled out as men who had an extraordinary grasp of the political context. They understood the times and knew what Israel was to do.

Knowing what to do

The men of Issachar didn’t simply know the signs of the times, but they knew what to do in light of them. Christians should also be people of understanding who are able to navigate culture effectively and wisely. Christians must be discerning people of courage, vision, and faithfulness to the Lord.

Charles Spurgeon used to say that effective ministers should hold a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. He didn’t mean that the headlines should become our text, but that to be effective we need to know our culture in order aptly to apply Scripture to the needs of the hour.

It’s more than headlines, it is knowing what is significant among the happenings of our world – events and movements, trends and ideologies, currents and worldviews. It means having a sense of what to think, how to act, and the manner in which to respond.


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