But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid and attacked the Philistine and killed him. Then David's men swore to him, "You shall no longer go out with us to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel."
2 Samuel 21:17
David is not the same young warrior that he used to be. He has returned to his old pattern of fighting as warrior king beside his troops in battle. Only now he is an older man. His children have grown. He is not the agile young fighter that he used to be. He is growing weary in the battle. This is a liability now. It has been great to have him leading the battle, but not in the thick of it where it has become a distraction.
David was always a target, so that is not what his men are getting at when they swear to no longer take him into the heart of the battle. The issue is that David's crucial role as unifying king is too important for the nation. He is too great a risk in battle. And he cannot stand up to the rigors of hand to hand combat like he used to do. He is the "lamp of Israel" to his men, and they can't stand the thought of losing him in battle.
This is a season of change. David truly has a warrior's heart, but that energy needs to be directed somewhere other than in hand to hand combat. He needs to be leading, not participating, in the battle. And David humbly accepts the change. He is not the young fighter of giants anymore. His men will follow him anywhere, but he must continue to lead the army of Israel another way.
Life has its seasons, and David must now adjust. It is time to let young warriors kill the giants (which is a key chapter theme here). Just as David proved his manly courage while still a shepherd boy by killing a Philistine giant, so do his young troops dispatch four of them again in this account. It is clear the torch has passed with greater results. He could see Israel's army do greater things under his leadership than David would accomplish alone. So the reward of this change of seasons for David was the fruitful increase in the army's overall success. I take note of that as I read it today. As our years increase, the chance to see the next generation do more than we ever did also increases. And God can use us to help see that happen. That is encouraging. It gives purpose to the relentless movement of seasons of change.
- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13