What King David’s mighty men teach us about ministry

In my opinion, believers should remember that whatever occupation we have in life, it’s part of our ministry in some way, unless God has made it crystal clear that our occupation is not pleasing to him. More often than not, when we know God has anointed us to do something, he provides fellow believers to help us fulfill our calling, whether it’s praying for us or providing physical logistics to make it possible for us to do what we should do.

One example of this in the Bible is David. After God anointed him to replace Saul as king of Israel, God blessed him with mighty men who surrounded him to give him encouragement in the dark times of fleeing Saul’s persecution. They believed in God’s anointing on David, and dedicated themselves to making sure he fulfilled God’s calling. As they strengthened David, they themselves became strengthened. 1 Chronicles 11:10 tells us the following about them:

These also are the chief of the mighty men whom David had, who strengthened themselves with him in his kingdom, and with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the Lord concerning Israel.

We are given their names and accomplishments. When Hebrews named their children, their names could reflect who they were prophetically or could be a memorial to God for what he did for their parents. The names of David’s chief mighty men show the qualities of people that contribute to ministries and principles that should surround believers as we walk in God’s anointing. Here are the names of those men from 1 Chronicles 11 with their meanings:

  • Jashobeam: ‘the people will return.’ The word ‘return’ in Jashobeam’s name has to do with returning to God, turning from evil, restoration, and being refreshed. Without people returning to God through Jesus Christ, there can be no genuine ministry.
  • Eleazar: ‘God has helped.’ Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul. [Psalm 54:4]
  • Abishai: ‘my father is generous; father of gifts.’ God is generous with his gifts to us so we can minister to others’ needs.
  • Benaiah: ‘Jehovah has built up.’ Two of David’s chiefs had this name. David’s ministry had a double portion of Jehovah building him up.
  • Asahel: ‘God-made.’ The faithful in ministry acknowledge “that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” [Psalm 100:3] They are creationists who know they wouldn’t be here without God.
  • Elhanan: ‘God has been gracious.’ Genuine believers know we are only saved by God’s grace through faith, not by our own works [Ephesians 2:8-9].
  • Shammoth: ‘astonishment; amazement; wonder.’ Jehovah works unexplainable things and often does it through his people.
  • Helez: ‘he has saved.’ Those who strengthen ministries have been saved by God from all spiritual enemies because they have called on Jehovah who is worthy to be praised [2 Samuel 22:4].
  • Ira: ‘watchful of a city.’ David had two chiefs named Ira. This highlights the fact that ministries often need a double portion of watchfulness since enemies can come from many places to try to weaken them.
  • Abiezer: ‘my father helps.’ This type of person knows they ultimately have to rely on God’s help because “vain is the help of man,” [Psalm 60:11].
  • Sibbecai: ‘like a thicket.’  Thickets are used to provide cover for protection or to launch surprise attacks. Godly ministries need godly people who can protect and go on the offense when needed.
  • Ilai: ‘exalted.’ This kind of person knows the importance of exalting God through prayer, praise, and worship because they know this is the only way an individual believer or ministry can be exalted in God’s eyes [Luke 14:11].
  • Maharai: ‘hurried; hasty.’ It’s a good thing to have people in a ministry that do God’s will with a quickness, but those who are hasty have to watch themselves so they’re not too quick to jump to incorrect judgments about certain things.
  • Heled: ‘transient; temporarily housed; duration of life.’ The underlying meaning has to do with shortness of time and being temporary. God may lend certain people to a ministry temporarily before he has them move on to something else [e.g. missionaries and evangelists].
  • Ithai: ‘nearness; with me.’ Reliable ministry supporters know God is a God who is close at hand [Jeremiah 23:23] and is with those who seek to please him [Psalm 23:4].
  • Hurai: ‘maker of white linen.’ White linen is symbolic of the righteousness of the saints and ministries need people who stress righteousness because they are pleased by it.
  • Abiel: ‘God, the mighty one, is my father.’ True ministry supporters only have God as their father, they believe only in Jesus as the way to the Father [John 1:12].
  • Azmaveth: ‘strong unto death.’ God gives some of his faithful physical strength far into old age [Deuteronomy 34:7; Joshua 14:11] but spiritually speaking all who are truly saved endure in godliness to the end of their earthly lives [Matthew 24:13].
  • Eliahba: ‘[whom] God hides.’ This type of person has been proven to have God’s protection from attacks mounted by spiritual enemies and is an example of how God will hide us in the day of his judgment [Psalm 64:2; Isaiah 26:20].
  • Jonathan: ‘Jehovah has given.’ When a person strengthens a ministry, they cling to the knowledge that  Jehovah has given them responsibilities to fulfill with abilities to carry them out.
  • Ahiam: ‘friend of the mother city or motherland.’ People like Ahiam remind us that we belong to the New Jerusalem in heaven because she is our mother [Galatians 4:26].
  • Eliphal: ‘God of judgment; God of supplications.’ This kind of person knows God discerns between right and wrong and rewards or punishes accordingly. They also know how to approach him to supply what they need.
  • Hepher: ‘a well.’ A person filled with the Holy Spirit who is in them like “a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” [John 4:14]
  • Ahijah: ‘friend of Jehovah.’
  • Hezro: ‘enclosed.’ The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. [Psalm 34:7]
  • Naarai: ‘youthful servant.’ It is good for a man that he bear the yoke [of God] in his youth [Lamentations 3:27]. God wants his ministries to have young people involved and active in them.
  • Joel: ‘Jehovah is God.’
  • Mibhar: ‘best choice.’ Believers who refuse to settle for less than what is spiritually best are good to have around as long as they aren’t legalistic in their understanding.
  • Zelek: ‘split or cover fairly; split or cover evenly.’ Godly ministries will have people that make sure favoritism is not promoted since God is no respecter of persons, “[b]ut in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” [Acts 10:35]
  • Naharai: ‘breathe hard; nostrils.’ The kind of person who displays righteous anger when things aren’t in line with what is proven correct and they are ready to act against the unrighteous thing.
  • Gareb: ‘scabbed through strife.’ Ministries tend to have people who have been through the school of hard knocks, but having scabs means they are in the process of healing or they have been healed and making it through tough times brings strength in Christ.
  • Uriah: ‘Jehovah is light.’ Uriah was loyal to David and loved him unconditionally, but David had him killed out of covetousness. David’s disloyalty to Uriah reflected his disloyalty to God and God’s light, which brought darkness to David’s household. This serves as a warning to believers not to snuff out the light Jehovah provides for us through those who carry out his will.
  • Zabad: ‘he gifts or endows.’ The type of person who appreciates the gifts God has given them and uses those gifts skillfully for God’s glory.
  • Adina: ‘flexible; prayerfully adorned.’ Those who have this quality in a ministry tend to avoid legalism and dead works, displaying a humility that shows they are in close contact with God and can change course at a moment’s notice when they hear from the Lord.
  • Hanan: ‘favored [one].’
  • Joshaphat: ‘Jehovah is judge.’
  • Uzzia: ‘strength of Jehovah.’
  • Shama: ‘obedient.’ An individual who knows obedience is better than sacrifice [1 Samuel 15:22].
  • Jehiel: ‘carried or swept away by God.’
  • Jediael: ‘knowing God.’
  • Joha: ‘Jehovah revives.’ This kind of believer knows “they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint,” [Isaiah 40:31] because true ministry is fulfilled “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” [Zechariah 4:6]
  • Eliel: ‘God is God.’ David had two chiefs with this name.
  • Jeribai: ‘my strife, my contention.’ This type of believer is always ready to earnestly contend for the faith [Jude 3].
  • Joshaviah: ‘Jehovah has set or laid.’ A person who cannot be deceived and has understanding of the principles that God has established for eternity and stays committed to those things.
  • Ithmah: ‘purity; what great excellence.’
  • Obed: ‘serving.’ A believer who makes serving others their priority. “If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.” [Mark 9:35]
  • Jasiel: ‘made by God.’ See Asahel above.

Harry A. Gaylord


3 thoughts on “What King David’s mighty men teach us about ministry

Add yours

  1. Harry,
    I can not find the words that can adequately describe how encouraged I am by this post. Thank you – one question, though… are these “meanings from Hebrew or Greek?



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