The Man of Iron

Now Barzillai was a very aged man, eighty years old. And he had provided the king with supplies while he stayed at Mahanaim, for he was a very rich man
— 2 Samuel 19:32

This is a shortened version of a sermon that I preached years ago at Snyder, Texas: “The Man of Iron”.

David had been dethroned by his son Absalom and he had to leave his beloved city Jerusalem on the run. Before the rebellion, Absalom had been undermining his father by lying to the people about his father David and doing favors for the people in his own name. In other words, I care for you, but my father doesn’t. He deceitfully gave the people what they wanted to win their hearts So when the rebellion started, most of the people sided with him. But after a while there was a show down in the woods of Ephriam and Absalom was killed. After the rebellion of Absalom was extinguished, there was renewed support for David throughout Israel. This was a cause of celebration for those who had remained loyal during the civil war. But there were some who sought to take advantage of his return to power, including people who had changed sides and supported Absalom.

But my focus is on one man, Barzillai. This man was different from those who wanted favors from David. His name means man of iron and that pretty much symbolized his character. He was a friend who could be counted on and trusted, just like iron. David knew that he had been loyal even during difficult times.

Barzillai had proven himself and provided for David’s needs in his darkest hours, helping to support the battle-hardened king out of his personal resources. The Bible says that Barzillai “was a very great man.” As far as David was concerned, he had proven himself.

When David offered to reward him, Barzillai declined. In fact, he asked for nothing for himself. Instead he asked David if he would bless his servant (son) Kimham. He wanted David to treat Kimham as though the king were rewarding Barzillai himself.

David was so impressed and moved by Barzillai’s action, and attitude. In David’s old age when he was on his death bed, he told his son Solomon to “show kindness to the sons of Barzillai, “let them be among those who eat at your table. They stood by me when I fled from your brother Absalom” (1 Kings 2:7).

Barzillai is a great example for us to follow. We need to be men and women of Iron! We need to be dependable and loyal. Faithful and consistent. Totally committed to live according to God’s principles. Careful to keep your promises. A person on whom others can count.

God Bless!