Scripture Text: 2 Samuel 19:31-39, NLT
Transition: Seniors, we need a good roll model to follow and we find a good in the Old Testament–2 Samuel 19…the story of Barzillai, the Ironman, a highlander from the hills of Gilead and the little village of Rogelim. These highlanders were noted for loyalty, courtesy, hospitality and a passionate love of the hill country.
Verse 32 says…He was very old—eighty years of age—and very wealthy [NASB ‘great’]. The Hebrew word is ‘ga-dole’ and it means to be large in size, power, influence and character. It is the same word that is used in Genesis 1:16 in reference to the sun and moon–two great lights.
Barzillai was great man…
I. HE WAS GREAT IN TERMS OF WEALTH AND GENEROSITY
You cannot do what Barzillai did without great wealth. In the last part of chapter 17, the bible tells us that when David arrived at Mahanaim, he was warmly greeted…by three noblemen…and Barzillai was one of the three. These men took care of David and his entire household. They brought sleeping mats, cooking pots, serving bowls, wheat and barley, flour and roasted grain, beans, lentils, honey, butter, sheep, goats, and cheese for David and those who were with him. For they said, “You must all be very hungry and tired and thirsty after your long march through the wilderness.”
Few of us have the resources to provide for a king but Barzillai had great wealth and he was very generous. The Bible says in Ephesians 4:28, He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. The father in the Prodigal Son is our model and what did he do with his wealth? He shared it!
Note Barzillai’s answer to David in verse 34, “No, I am far too old to go” but he was not too old to give. One of the greatest blessing of being a Senior Adult is that I have more time and money to give.
II. HE WAS A MAN OF GREAT LOYALTY
Barzillai was not from the Tribe of Judah, he lived in Gilead. Most Israelites treated the transjordan tribes like step children. I am absolutely amazed at this Highlander’s loyalty to David. Barzillai was a KINGDOM MAN. He put the Kingdom of Israel before his own interest. Jesus taught us to “Seek His kingdom first,” and Barzillai is a good example. At a time when David’s popularity had reached an all time low, Barzillai stood with his king. Who knows what would have happened to David had it not been for people like Barzillai. We know one, David was very grateful for what Barzillai had done for the kingdom.
III. HE WAS A MAN OF GREAT COURAGE
Chapter 17 tells us that Absalom’s army was already camped in the land of Gilead. The odds were heavily against David. At a time when most men would have been trying to protect themselves, Barzillai took the risk of giving the king sanctuary and supplies. Who knows, this man’s kindness may have made the difference. We know this; Barzillai was not thinking about himself, he literally stuck his neck out for David. If you have a friend like Barzillai, you are rich indeed.
III. HE WAS A MAN OF GREAT WISDOM
- He had the wisdom to say no…”I’m too old to go.”
- He had the wisdom to realize his limitations. He knew he could not do things he once did:
- Couldn’t enjoy his food
- Couldn’t hear the voices of singers
- Didn’t want to be a burden to David…afraid he could not pull his own weight.
- It is not sad to be a Senior Adult, what’s bad is to be one and not honest enough to admit it. Like 70 year olds buying a sports car, a convertible on top of that, one of these jobs that sits about 8 inches above the pavement. Or one of these 75 year old women wearing short-shorts.
- He had enough wisdom to retire. He passed the paton to his son Kimham. He said I am too old to go but not too old to send someone in my place.
Seniors, this is what we need most–wisdom. We need to know when to give and when not to give. We need to know when to go and when not to go. We need to know when it’s time to step aside and pass the torch to someone more capable. This is becoming a sad reality…some people do not know when to quit.
Let me give you two examples: I saw an 84 year old man trying to call a baseball game the other night and he got so confused that he was calling folks out with two strikes and walking them on ball three. When someone corrected him, he got aggitated. It was embarassing for everyone. The best example of not knowing when to quit, is John McCain. He should have retired after losing the election in 2008. At one time, he was nick named John Wayne McCain but that is not how he will be remembered. He will be remembered as petty, vain and a sore loser. He destroyed his own legacy by staying too long.
Seniors, don’t quit living, don’t quit giving but don’t be a hindrance to the next generation. I love retirement, I am busier than I’ve ever been. June and I have put 30,000 miles on an 11 month old Honda and 4 month old truck. We are on track to do 40,000 plus in a year. I love being out of the decision making process. Let the young folks make the decisions because they are going to do most of the work but that doesn’t mean we are to quit ministry. We can give, pray and encourage. We may not be able to go but we can send someone in our place.
There are two kinds of senior adults: the kind and the wrong kind. Actually, it is the bitter and cynical and the happy and supportive.