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Men Of Outstanding Capability

That's what the men of the Hebronites are called in 1 Chronicles 26:31, 'men of outstanding capability or mighty men of valour' (RV)! Their relatives in the same passage are called 'capable men or men of valour' (RV), but these are men whose capability or valour was even more notable in the investigation of David in the fortieth year of his reign. We are told no more about the incident, but left to ponder what makes a man one of outstanding capability. The original words imply a powerful warrior, a strong man, a valiant man.

Who were the Hebronites? We read about their patriarch in Exodus 6:18, the third son of Kohath and brother to Amram (Moses' and Aaron's father), and thus an uncle of Moses and Aaron. In David's day, a Hebronite named Jerijah (or Jeriah), whose name means 'Jehovah sees', was the chief of 2,700 capable men whom King David made overseers of the Reubenites, Gadites and the half tribe of Manasseh, 'concerning all the affairs of God and of the king' (1 Chr. 26:32). The temple was not yet built, but David was preparing, not just the materials, but the men for service. Who better to set apart for legal matters and adjudication and the work of oversight than outstandingly capable men?

It's interesting to note where these outstanding men were found when the investigation took place. They were at Jazer of Gilead. In its history, Moses had sent men to spy out Jazer and dispossess the Amorites who were there (Num. 21:32). The Reubenites, Gadites and half tribe of Manasseh wanted to remain in Gilead east of the Jordan, and when they agreed to help their brothers conquer the land west of Jordan, Moses gave them the land of Gilead. 'And the sons of Gad built ... Jazer ... as fortified cities, and sheepfolds for sheep' (Num.32:34,36). In Joshua 21:39, it was given to the Levites as one of their cities, 'Jazer with its pasture lands.' Men of outstanding capability for oversight were living in a place of sheep and pastures. It seems to be a proper picture for those who would oversee 'all the affairs of God and of the king.' As someone has noted, it is hard to be a shepherd who doesn't like sheep!

We read of a number of outstanding people in the New Testament, men and women whose capabilities seemed to shine out among their brethren. There are the 'leading men among the brethren' of Acts 15:22. Romans 16 contains a list of men and women of outstanding capability as well, Phoebe, Prisca and Aquila, and Andronicus and Junias 'who are outstanding among the apostles,' and Rufus 'a choice man in the Lord.' What sets a man or woman apart as outstanding, and choice in the service of the Lord today?

Perhaps we get a clue in Acts 6 when seven men were to be chosen to look after a particular task in the Church of God in Jerusalem. Who did the church choose under the direction of the apostles? 'Men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom ... and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit ...' (Acts 6:3,5). Certainly Hebrews 11:6 agrees that 'without faith it is impossible to please Him ...' and one chapter earlier describes the need for endurance in faith, concluding '... and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him' (10:38). The apostle Paul speaks to Timothy in his second epistle to him about the sanctified life of the disciple and the need to cleanse himself from dishonourable men: 'Therefore if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work' (2:21).

Perhaps the work of the Lord for you involves shepherding sheep; perhaps it is defending the fortified city; perhaps it is serving widows their daily food; perhaps overseeing 'all the affairs of God and of the king!' In the eternal perspective of things, it really won't matter what others' assessment of our spiritual capabilities is. But throughout eternity, it will indeed matter how God assesses our service, because it is our service in His affairs! It is the service of the King!

(Biblical references from NASB except where otherwise indicated)