"Now therefore let your hands be strong, and be valiant, for Saul your lord is dead, and the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.”
-2 Samuel 2:7 (ESV)
There is a crossroads that we come to in our lives, when we have to choose to be courageous or not. One way or another, we are given the discernment of what the right thing is to do. But to do the right thing will require courage.
There is a word, that we do not use much, that describes this very thing. And that word is 'Valiant'. To be valiant is to show or possess courage, with a determination to do the right thing.
In the story that 2 Samuel 2:7 is a part of, to a group of men, David sends this word: "Let your hands be strong, and be valiant". The surrounding context of the story tells us that for these men to turn their allegiance to David, it will be difficult and dangerous. And that is why David says, "Be strong and be valiant".
To be valiant is to show or possess courage with determination. Valiant to a word that is not in most of our vocabularies. To be valiant is to be brave and not cowardly.
Valiant people are the ones you want on your side. And you call people that you are encouraging to stand with you to be valiant.
Valiant, valiance or valor are words that the writer of Samuel and the writer of Judges use to describe formidable warriors, who exercise the power of their personal strength. Through Judges and Samuel there is war and there are warriors, and some people are described as valiant or men of valour: brave and courageous.
Valiance is also something you want in someone who is going to lead others. For leadership, it is not enough to just possess godly wisdom and character. A leader is a person who also has courage: "Having the courage of their convictions". This same Hebrew word, 'ḥa-yil', translated 'valiant', in 2 Samuel, is translated, 'able', in Exodus 18:
But you should select from all the people able men, God-fearing, trustworthy, and hating bribes. Place them over the people as commanders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. They should judge the people at all times. Then they can bring you every important case but judge every minor case themselves. In this way you will lighten your load, and they will bear it with you. If you do this, and God so directs you, you will be able to endure, and also all these people will be able to go home satisfied.”
Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. So Moses chose able men from all Israel and made them leaders over the people as commanders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens.
-Exodus 18:21-5Here we have an illustration of the delegation of authority or leadership. The people that should be selected to lead will fear God, be truthful, not corrupted by bribes, and bravely courageous. This is an Old Testament, rough draft of the qualifiers for an elder in the people of God.
Back to the story in 2 Samuel: While it is clear to us that David was meant to be king and that God had rejected Saul, many people, 'on the ground' and 'at the time', did not get this. The people had to come around or come to the realization, that David was meant to be their next king and was indeed 'God's chosen'.
It is ironic or perplexing for us today to read these stories and see people who are part of the twelve tribes, reject and oppose what we know to be God's plan or God's man. These ideas go along with the saying today that, "God has no grandchildren", or Paul's words in Romans 9:6, "For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel."
In other words, we are not born into faith. We must choose and decide what we believe and who or what we will follow. My son and your son or daughter must decide for themselves if they will follow Jesus.
David, plainly said or told his messengers to say, to the men of Jabesh-gilead, that he had been anointed king over Judah, after Saul's death. He blessed them and said thanks for what you did for Saul, that was kind, and he said that he planned to be kind to them as well. In that context, David encourages them to be valiant, which means to show or possess courage with determination.
The context of this statement and David's words, are that there was danger and uncertainty about how things were going to shake out. Saul's army or those who had fought for and were allied with the house of Saul and particularly against David, were still unsubmissive, insubordinate and at odds with David and what we, the readers today, see and read as God's plan.
David is doing diplomacy with the men of Jabesh-gilead. He said, "God bless you and thank you for showing kindness to Saul. I am now becoming king and I will show kindness to you. Be strong and valiant." They needed to be strong and valiant because they were in danger from the Philistines, and the Saul faction that was not behind David, would soon be knocking on their doors, asking or demanding their backing.
More of the story that helps us understand how difficult a situation that Jabesh-gilead was in, is the fact, told later, that it would be about seven years before other tribes would get behind David. This snapshot, part of the larger story, takes place in a seven year, tumultuous window of time, where David is almost, but not yet fully, king of all Israel.
We know David is God's choice, but in the story, David and our eyes with David, looks for, seeks and invites people to join him as 'early adopters'. And it is not simple or easy. For seven more years, there would continue the last chapter of the civil war between the Saul loyalists and David.
What we learn is that David does not force himself on the rest of Israel, after Judah, but patiently waits for things to shake out. David, who has already done a lot of waiting, has to wait some more. David specifically waits on God to fully promote him.
In this context, David sent that message, contained in 2 Samuel 2, asking for support, and he encourages them to be courageous, and to do the right thing.
The word of wisdom in this story is applicable and relevant for us today. To be shown or to realize what the right thing is to do, but not to do it, is cowardice. But to have the courage of your convictions, and to do the right thing, in the face of opposition and unpopularity, is valiant.
To be valiant is to show or possess courage, with a determination to do the right thing.
We are called to be a valiant people. And our war is not against flesh and blood. We are a warrior people, doing battle against the devil's schemes.
Valiance is to have courage to do the right thing in the face of adversity and opposition.