A Leader’s Grip


2 Samuel 23:9b The men of Israel retreated in the place they had gathered for battle, [10] but Eleazar stood his ground and attacked the Philistines until his hand was tired and stuck to his sword. The LORD brought about a great victory that day. Then the troops came back to him, but only to plunder the dead.

“The men of Israel retreated in the place they had gathered for battle,”

Today, there is a great battle that rages for the hearts of men. It is a battle of godliness, virtue, and morality matched against the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Unfortunately, as in Eleazar’s day, the people of God are, to a great extent, in retreat. Why? Fear of peculiarity, being uncommon in a politically correct culture, maybe even of persecution. And fear is a funny thing. It can be contagious.

I was a teenager out on a weekend night when we heard a collision. Down the hill from the road a train screeched. Its light filtered through smoke that consumed its front and as it cleared, we could see a car wrapped around the train’s engine. In less than a minute there were scores of people that had gathered in the grass at the roadside to see what had happened. What occurred next is a phenomenon.


It’s a common phenomenon when people feel fear. They often do nothing. In this case (as it is in most) it was contagious.

There must have been 30 people who stood in a line as if there was a trip-wire just one step ahead. Every individual’s independent thought was being affected by the one standing next to him. And no one moved.

A good leader resists the forces of common tendency in culture and instead bases action in truth followed with resolve to do what is right and good.

“but Eleazar stood his ground..”

Eleazar was a leader. When the rest of the forces had fled, he stayed. He trusted God for the victory. He was resolved to stand his ground and fight, to do what was right and good even at risk of his own peril.

Leaders also exercise tenacity.  Scripture tells us that he fought “until his hand clung to the sword.” Some interpreters missed the literality here, translating this along the lines of, “He never let go” as if he hung on even when he was exhausted. However, the text indicates Eleazar had gripped his sword for so long that his hand wouldn’t open! He must have reached a tetanic contraction in his grip that was sustained for quite some time. Equate it to lock-jaw but here, lock-grip. Ouch. It’s a good word for leaders, though;

Hang on until you can’t let go.

Grab on and grip truth, justice and righteousness until the grip is automatic, sustained, tetanic.

We are either culture-shapers or shaped by culture. In reality, both are probably happening to some extent at the same time. We should hope to be shapers, shaping culture to a more virtuous form. But without purposeful intent we are certain to be shaped to culture’s current trends.

Here’s the take-home message: Stand and fight for what is right and good regardless of cultural norms and then hold to it… until you can’t let go.

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