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Benaiah-Israel's Warrior and Lion Killer

Updated on January 17, 2017

Find Benaiah in 1 Kings 1:32-45 and 2 Sam. 23:20-22; 1 Chr. 11:22-24


In Hebrew בְּנָיָהוּ (Benayahu) means "YAHWEH has built".

Life in ancient Israel was a time of turmoil, war, the making of kings and the tearing down of kingdoms. People worked hard, loved recklessly and fought relentlessly for freedom, truth and justice much like we do in our own time. Many men were noticed for their valor and became a vital part of the elite fighting forces that kept a ruler in power or removed him from the throne.

Benaiah was such a man, a warrior that lived life to its fullest, never compromising or backing down. This man Benaiah was certainly larger than life. He was like a movie hero that gets caught up in action, fighting, feats of endurance and wonder but always stays focused on his King. He was a man’s man with his bravery and fighting skills and a woman’s heart throb because of his dashing and heroic exploits. He was making a name for himself even before David became king and was noticed by this chosen man who was destined to be king of Israel. And indeed he became a great fighting man in the armies of King David and King Solomon.

Benaiah came from good stock. He was from the tribe of Ephraim and his father was Jehoiada, the priest. His mother is not mentioned but I like to think she was the incredibly brave Jehosheba who saved King Josiah’s life when he was a baby. He remained devoted to the Lord God Jehovah and part of his duties included being responsible for priestly duty during the third month. This was actually in the temple itself and was quite an honor. David always remained focused on God and it is natural that he would choose godly men for his closest and most trusted guards.

Benaiah earned this honor with blood, sweat and most likely, tears. Records show that he emulated David’s example of giant killer. He killed an Egyptian 7 ½ feet tall with his own spear. He went right up to the giant and hit the giant with his staff, apparently stunning the big guy, then took his own spear right out of his hand and killed the man with it. The account says this spear was the size of a weaver’s beam so it was about 2-3 inches in diameter. Another notation of a spear this size puts the tip at 15 pounds. This gives us an idea of Benaiah’s strength and physical condition.

At another time, Benaiah encountered two men from Moab who are recorded as being “lionlike.” So they were ferocious, without mercy, and determined. But our hero took them both on and killed them. The Moabs were descendents of Lot by his oldest daughter and were not believers of God like the Israelites. They worshipped an idol named Chemosh and practiced child sacrifice. King Saul had fought them and David sent his own mother and father to Moab for safety when he was fleeing Saul’s persecution.

We do not know why Benaiah attacked and killed them or the entire account of the fight. Since they were “lionlike”, they most likely were warriors and were antagonistic. Can you imagine one man taking on two of these fierce men at the same time? Men who killed little children certainly would not allow him to live if they got the upper hand.

Killing the seemingly undefeatable was just practice for Benaiah though. One winter day when he was out and about he came across a lion. It was probably hungry since food is hard to come by in winter, perhaps it was searching for a stray sheep or other lone animal. When Benaiah saw it, he did not wait for it to attack. He went after the lion and chased it into a pit! He fought with the lion and killed it.

Most people would run and hide from a lion. Our guy decided to confront the danger though and eliminate it even at the risk of being in an enclosed area with it. The snow would have made the ground slick and precarious. The pit (possibly a cave or the lion’s den) would have been dim and dark, making it hard to see or to dodge sharp claws and teeth. Benaiah probably endured a few moments of fright but persevered and emerged victorious.

And it all paid off when his outrageous exploits were recognized by David. Once chosen, Benaiah never looked back. He remained loyal to the king through whatever came. When they were running from Saul, he was with David and when the king’s son Adonijah rebelled, Benaiah never swayed or failed to support his regent. Later when Solomon became king, he ordered Benaiah to execute Adonijah and he obeyed without question. But that was much later and a lifetime of service and sacrifice came first.

King David chose thirty special servicemen to be part of an elite force. These were men who had shown tremendous courage, loyalty and bravery. They had a very special and important assignment. The king trusted them implicitly and they were always ready to act at a moment’s notice to fulfill his command. They fought loyally with and for him.

Benaiah was the leader of this special squad made up of the bravest men who could be found. Therefore he was the bravest of the brave. He commanded the Cherethite and Pelethite divisions which were comprised more than 24,000 soldiers.

Yet there were three extra special men who were even more elite and close to the king. Benaiah was not one of the three. It must have galled him and I wonder if some of his actions were meant to earn his way there. He was appointed over King David’s bodyguard however and his life was given voluntarily to that service.

Many years into David’s reign and as he was growing old and ill, his son Adonijah decided to usurp the kingdom and become ruler even though his father was still alive. He recruited some of David’s most loyal and trusted advisors to his side. Adonijah invited all of his brothers and all of the royal court to a public event where he showed himself to be king. But Benaiah was not one of those who would betray David and records reflect that he was never even asked to change sides. Everyone knew where his heart stood.

David was on his sickbed and knew himself to be dying. He had promised that Solomon would be king, not Adonijah. He sent several trusted men to protect Solomon and to coronate him as king, even though David was still alive. This was most extraordinary and proof of David’s faith in there advisors. They went to Solomon, set him on David’s own mule; Nathan the prophet anointed him with oil as a sign and a trumpet was blown to make it known to all the people.

Benaiah was forever the king’s man and became as valuable to Solomon as he had been to David. He was chosen to remove the threats to the throne and was dispatched to kill the traitorous Adonijah and others who had proven disloyal. And he killed him that very day, without waiting, fulfilling the new king’s orders.

Then Joab who had been one of the men who turned against David was the next target. But he ran into the temple and actually held onto the alter, refusing to come out. This put Benaiah in a quandary. He could not kill the man right there where sacrifices to God were given. But upon seeking advice, Solomon ordered him to go ahead with it. So Benaiah went back and executed Joab right there on the alter.

As a sign of favor, Solomon made Benaiah commander over Joab’s army and later commanded him to kill another man who had betrayed the nation.


Be a Lion Killer

How can Benaiah be an example and inspiration to us today? We can study him to learn how faith strengthens us and allows us to accomplish the impossible. Benaiah certainly did not attack a giant, two mean men and a lion depending only on his own ability. He knew he was on the side of righteousness and that God was with him. Likewise we can stride confidently into situations where the odds are not in our favor.

This is happening all over the world in countries and areas where missionaries and workers take on inhumane conditions, working tirelessly to relieve pain, misery and injustices. They are taking on the lion in its own den.

Rosa Parks was a lion killer. She refused to back out of the bus den and changed life for people everywhere. Mother Teresa was one too. She fought relentlessly for suffering people the world over. She was as loyal to her King as Benaiah was to his. You and I can be like that also when we refuse to compromise morals, values and truth and stand firm in the face of adversity.

When good people turn and run, when we leave the fight to others, we become the lion’s dinner and give him free reign to terrorize others. This is not the action of a warrior and the chosen elite of the King. Rather we must look for threats and go bravely and confront it face to face. Benaiah did this. So did Clara Barton, who served wounded soldiers on the battlefields during the Civil War and founded the Red Cross.

Oskar Schindler made a list of names and saved over one thousand people. Their descendants now number in to the tens of thousands. He played cards for one woman and took her out of the concentration camp which meant certain death. The Commandant thought Schindler wanted her for sexual favors and was allowed his disillusion while she was safely taken away.

John F. Kennedy was a Navy commander of a PT boat struck by enemy fire. Despite being wounded himself, he held onto the wrecked boat and swam for hours until he got it and the men aboard to shore. He suffered with back pain for the rest of his life but never regretted his actions.

In 1989 the People’s Liberation Army drove tanks down Tiananmen Square to stop protestors against the communist government. One man stepped in front of a long line of 60 ton tanks and refused to move. His bravery spurred others to actions, freeing millions of oppressed people over the world.

Mahatma Gandhi marched 248 miles all the way from Salt March to Dandi, bringing awareness to the world of India’s revolt against British imperialism.

The list could continue into the millions because there has always been a time when someone took on the lion and won. A man, woman or child refused to kneel before the giant and be slaughtered, but rose up and fought back.

We are facing a choice every day. We must choose whom to serve, God or Satan, peace or war, love or hate, compassion or cruelty. You might be the next Benaiah, the next Martin Luther King or I might become a Nelson Mandela, a Cesar Chavez, a Crazy Horse or another Lydia Marie Child. You may not recognize some of these names. Look them up. Google them and read all about these elite few. They belong to people who chased lions into the pit and removed the threat, ones who strode up to a giant, took his own spear from his hand and killed him with it, leaving a safe passage for ones who follow in the future. Susie King Taylor and Todd Beaver stood tall, swallowed fear and selfishness thereby opening the way for others to live with freedom of choice.

The actions and choices of one brave person can literally change the world forever. Will you be that one? Will I?

© 2011 Brenda Barnes


Submit a Comment
  • Hyphenbird profile imageAUTHOR

    Brenda Barnes 

    8 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

    Tamarajo, I also was touched by Benaiah's willingness. I have several more in the works and one posted about Barzillai if you are interested in reading more. Also I have a group of Hubs on inspiring women of the Old Testament. Thanks for reading and taking time to leave comments.

  • Tamarajo profile image


    8 years ago

    Inspirational exposition about Benaiah.

    I enjoy these kind of studies that call out these sometimes glossed over biblical characters and pull out these meaningful details as you have done in this article.

    Benaiah really did exhibit faithfulness, loyalty, and courage. All highly valued and necessary in our relationship with God and others.

  • Hyphenbird profile imageAUTHOR

    Brenda Barnes 

    8 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

    I know. I am becoming a slacker indeed. I have a new one started about another Old Testament hero and may publish a poem. Thanks for checking in on me. This has been such a busy week. I have volunteered my feathers off! I will be at the Cafe later to see everyone.

  • mckbirdbks profile image


    8 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

    Can it really be nine days without a Hub from Hypen. You must be working on a spectacular Hub for the contest. Anyway, just thought I'd stop by and say hi.

  • Hyphenbird profile imageAUTHOR

    Brenda Barnes 

    8 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

    Hi Martie. How are you? Yes, this man and others like him are an example and encouragement for us today. I thought while writing this one that I would have loved this man and been terrified at the same time. Imagine he goes home and his wife says "What did you do today honey?" And he replies "Chased a lion and killed it." I always learn so much when researching and reading the Old Testament. It is good of you to come by today.

  • Hyphenbird profile imageAUTHOR

    Brenda Barnes 

    8 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

    Hello ThoughtSandwiches. The Bible has some amazing people recorded. I love to study it and glean those forgotten nuggets. Most everyone has heard of Noah, Abraham and other prominent men, but ones like Benaiah have been largely discarded. Their stories and examples are very worthwhile. I must get busy writing the next one! Thanks so much for dropping by and leaving such encouraging comments.

  • MartieCoetser profile image

    Martie Coetser 

    8 years ago from South Africa

    Hyphenbird, my hat off to you. This well-written biography of Benaiah display your insight and a lot of research. There are so many lessons we can learn by merely studying the hero's mentioned in the Bible. Voted up and fabulous.

  • ThoughtSandwiches profile image


    8 years ago from Reno, Nevada

    Hi is becoming depressing about just how much history I do not know...particularly from this time period! I am glad I found you and I love your Hubs!



  • Hyphenbird profile imageAUTHOR

    Brenda Barnes 

    8 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

    Hello Happboomernurse. I appreciate the visit and the votes. I have been wanting to start a series about the Old Testament men and Benaiah seemed a good start. We can learn so much from him. I am so pleased you liked it.

  • Happyboomernurse profile image

    Gail Sobotkin 

    8 years ago from South Carolina

    Once again you bring a biblical story to life and show us how we can incorporate its principles in our own lives. This was an inspirational read and I thank you for sharing it. Voted up, useful, awesome, beautiful and interesting.

  • Hyphenbird profile imageAUTHOR

    Brenda Barnes 

    8 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

    Hello marcoujor. Thank you dear friend. I wanted the first one to be very strong and powerful. Benaiah certainly fills that bill. And I believe every person was recorded in the Bible for our edification. I am glad to include Ms. Barton as well. She was brave and a person who stepped outside her comfort and safety zone. So many others deserved honorable mention. I will seek them out in a followup Hub. Thank you for coming by. Your comments are always encouraging and so kind.

  • marcoujor profile image

    Maria Jordan 

    8 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

    Dear Hyph,

    I will enjoy your series on men from the Bible. Benaiah was an inspirational beginning and I loved how you connected this faithful man to our contemporary leaders. I'm proud that Clara Barton made it to your list as I think she is a true example of a transformational leader. Voted UP & UABI-- amazing piece, mar.

  • Hyphenbird profile imageAUTHOR

    Brenda Barnes 

    8 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

    Hello always, how are you? This man grabbed my attention from the first time I ever read about him. I knew he could be an example and inspiration to us all. And that video was so precious and perfect. You are so right about the children. I believe that is what Jesus meant when He said we must become like a small child. I am so glad you found this story a blessing.

    Eiddwen, thank you dear one. I am so glad you enjoyed this. I sure enjoyed writing it.

  • Eiddwen profile image


    8 years ago from Wales

    Oh yes I really enjoyed this one.

    Here's to many more hubs to share on here.

    Take care


  • always exploring profile image

    Ruby Jean Richert 

    8 years ago from Southern Illinois

    Another great bible story, told in a way that's understandable and interesting. Your message is loud and clear. People can either stand for justice or look the other way. The people you've listed were great Americans. I enjoyed the video. Children, if only we could think like them. Thank you... Well done!!

  • Hyphenbird profile imageAUTHOR

    Brenda Barnes 

    8 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

    Hi Lily. You have been on my heart recently. I though about sending you an email and should have done that. Good for you, reading the Old Testament. It is fascinating and full of prophecy. You keep standing for truth, righteousness and justice. If we lose our very life, we have eternity on the other side. As the world gets more evil, the fight will get more dangerous. We have almighty God with us though and He has our backs!

  • Hyphenbird profile imageAUTHOR

    Brenda Barnes 

    8 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

    Hello Dave. He sure was something, this man who served with all his heart. He actually served three kings, two human and one Divine. What an honor. I am glad you came by to read about Benaiah the brave.

  • lilyfly profile image

    Lillian K. Staats 

    8 years ago from Wasilla, Alaska

    There she is! Sorry about my claptrap recently- I suppose that's what they mean by depression. I love this guy... I'm reading the old testament right now. You know, Hy, most Lions for change get their phone bugged and or killed this day and age.

    Not that I can claim to be even a sliver of what these people are, I've stood for the truth, and I've seen people in Alaska die for it... hey, we all have to go sometime. A wonderful hub... love yaz, lily

  • Dave Mathews profile image

    Dave Mathews 

    8 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

    Hyphenbird: Thank you for the incite into this man from the past chosen to do God's works.

  • Hyphenbird profile imageAUTHOR

    Brenda Barnes 

    8 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

    Hello Epi friend. Having you say such things after you just came from Mr. Packer is praise indeed. There will be more of these recountings regarding heroic men of the Bible. Stay tuned and thank you ever so much.

    Birdie time 8:31am

  • epigramman profile image


    8 years ago

    ..well I just came back from Mister Packer's latest hub subject calling him a master historian - but you too should be on the same marquee - you both are world class writers - I am always in awe at your presentations and I always feel the love and passion in them - and yes you always rock my world Mrs. Boss with your comments to me.

    lake erie time 1:15am

  • Hyphenbird profile imageAUTHOR

    Brenda Barnes 

    8 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

    Hello Rosemay. I loved that too and the one who said Be Nice To Puppies. I am glad the theme carried through the entire article as I intended. This man was surely a sight to behold. And he was a father so I can imagine him all tender with his children. Being tough doesn't have to make us harsh. Thanks for your very kind comments. I appreciate you so much.

  • Hyphenbird profile imageAUTHOR

    Brenda Barnes 

    8 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

    Hello Suzette. YES! They are there for a reason and so many people don't know them. I love the popular people in the Bible too. The same ones seem to get the attention and the lessons we can learn from others goes largely neglected. Every choice has a consequence and determines our future so we need all the knowledge we can receive. I learned so much from Benaiah and hope others do too. Thank you for coming by. It is always so good to see you.

  • Hyphenbird profile imageAUTHOR

    Brenda Barnes 

    8 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

    Sunnie Day, thank you so much. We have such strong examples. It makes me wonder how society became so self centered and shallow when the world is in need. I am determined to help and take that step outward to make the world a better place. We have lions all around and they are taking over if we allow them the meal. We must stop running and begin chasing!

  • Rosemay50 profile image

    Rosemary Sadler 

    8 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

    This is a masterpiece Hyph. You have the knack of putting these stories into our terms so that we have a better understanding of them. You did a great job here. The of then and what is happening now shows all the way through.

    Voted up

    P.S I love the girl in the video who said to paint the Whitehouse purple.

  • Hyphenbird profile imageAUTHOR

    Brenda Barnes 

    8 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

    Hello Mr. Alastar Packer. You are and always will be the history master. I love history of all ages and since I had done so many stories about Israel's forgotten won=men I wanted to honor the men also. I will be bringing some more out soon. Thank you for your loyal following and encouragement. Let's be lion killers!

  • suzettenaples profile image

    Suzette Walker 

    8 years ago from Taos, NM

    Excellent Hyphen: This shows one person CAN make a difference in the world. You give great present day examples to follow the story. We certainly can learn so much from the Old Testament stories. They are there for a reason; so we can learn from them and know what choices to make. It try to make those huge decisions everyday. It is no always easy to make the right choice and decision.

  • Hyphenbird profile imageAUTHOR

    Brenda Barnes 

    8 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

    Hi North Wind. David chose well and carefully. I am glad you enjoyed the read. I hope people understand the tie in with today's challenges and what we can do for God's people.

  • Hyphenbird profile imageAUTHOR

    Brenda Barnes 

    8 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

    Hello mckbirdbks. I have been wanting to profile some of the great but little known men of the Old Testament for a while now. Benaiah is one of the better known but a fascinating man so I decided to begin with him. More and more I feel every one of us must take a stand and do something to make a difference even in one life. For that one person, we can change the world. No one can come through the challenges Benaiah faced without help so I knew I must tell about his "secret support."

    As always you are such an encouragement. Thank you.

  • profile image

    Sunnie Day 

    8 years ago

    Dear Brenda,

    What a terrific, wonderful hub you have written here. Not only do we learn about a great man but the message is loud and clear. You are so right there are many people like Benaiah to reflect on and admire. May we all be able to be strong and stand for what is right in the face of those lions...I can not say enough.. BRAVO!!!


  • Alastar Packer profile image

    Alastar Packer 

    8 years ago from North Carolina

    Mike just wrote a comment i couldn't better if my life depended on it. For a guy that likes history and has folks telling him what a teacher he is to them on it, well, your one to me Hyph. Your writing on an ancient history i know practically nothing about. Benaiah reads like a Hercules movie with Steve Reeves or like one of the Kings he served in one i do know, David and Goliath. The Be a Lion Killer part propels this already superior Hub into the mightiest ranks. Simply Awesome Hyph. Triple Merci.

  • North Wind profile image

    North Wind 

    8 years ago from The World (for now)

    Benaiah was indeed a mighty warrior. I enjoyed this hub as I always like to read about David's mighty men. He had strong and loyal men fighting with him that is for sure!

  • mckbirdbks profile image


    8 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

    Hello Hyphen, I could sense the intense feelings that you poured into this article. And about a male figure from the bible. Another milestone. You've done a masterful job here. No lions better show up around here for awhile.


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