12 Be of good courage; let us play the man for our people and the cities of our God. And may the Lord do what seems good to Him. Ė 2 Samuel 10:12 AMP
Joab was the leader of the Israeli army during king Davidís reign. As a nephew of David, he was a brilliant strategist and warrior. In fact, the Bible does not record that Joab was ever defeated when leading Israel into battle. And like the rest of the men mentioned in the Bible, he had his share of faults. But in todayís verse and surrounding passage, he and his brother Abishai were not only facing one enemy army, but were pitted against two of them. What was Joabís solution? He split the Israeli army between he and his brother and basically said they would help each other out if they needed to. He said let us play the man for Israel. And play the man they did. They attacked with such ferocity that both opposing armies fled. They played the man and were victorious.
So what does it take to play the man? First and foremost it takes courage. Look at Websterís 1828 definition of courage.
Courage, n. Bravery; intrepidity; that quality of mind which enables men to encounter danger and difficulties with firmness, or without fear or depression of spirits; valor; boldness; resolution.
Think Joab had courage? You bet he did. Courage is something those in the military even today must have, especially when fighting on the front lines comes into play. In almost any situation there can be the uncertainty of death. Facing trials like that requires valor, firmness and bravery. If courage is all it takes to play the man, then anyone can do it, right? You donít even have to be a Christian.
Yes thatís true. Anyone can play the man. But for Christians, playing the man takes on a whole new dimension. Joab didnít play the man for himself. He played the man for the people of Israel and for God. He didnít do it to receive praise from those around him. He didnít act out of a selfish motive. The fact is that many times Christian men donít have any courage until they are backed into a corner like Joab was. They only act when they are personally put on the spot. They even leave their friends and family defenseless when they should be their protection. And itís done for a ton of lame excuses that shows they would rather act the man than actually play the part.
I can say things like that because I lived it. I acted the man for years. I had no courage to deal with those who have hurt my family. I would even dismiss hurtful remarks directed at my wife and children and assume that those doing the hurting would never change regardless of what I did to correct them. The fact was that I didnít want to change my ways, nor did I care anything about dealing with my familyís hurts. But when I was hurt, it was a completely different story. I even had a tendency to get violent if I was forced to defend myself. But I had it all wrong. God wanted me to play the man for my family; he didnít want me to act selfishly or try to get my own way.
The great thing is that there are continually chances in life to play the man. Now I know there are few men who read this blog who are military commanders like Joab. Some of us are not cut out for military life, and I respect that. But regardless of your background, you will still be presented with opportunities to play the man.
A couple of years ago our family moved into a farmhouse built in the early 1900s. As with any older home, there have been improvements we have made along the way. Sometimes there have been repairs to make. This week, in particular, we had a sewage problem inside the house. I didnít call anyone for help. I plunged toilets. I used drain cleaner. I even went into a smelly and musty crawlspace without any worry of what could be dripping from my elbows upon my return to civilization. But I encountered all those situations with firmness and resolution. Think that took bravery? On my part it did. Three years ago I would have been ringing the plumberís phone off the hook until he answered. I wouldnít have dared go near such a mess. But I did it because I was playing the man for my family. I was protecting them, and keeping your family safe pleases God.
That example may seem a bit elementary, but Iím not Joab. My job is not to protect a nation; itís to protect my family. Protecting your family from any kind of harm, whether itís physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional is a chance for you to play the man. But whatís equally important to point out is that playing the man requires action on your part. Joab went out to fight. I worked to repair our sewage problem. Playing the man is not a passive activity. Anyone can talk about having boldness. You can talk all day about what you would or should have done. But when you are able to stop the endless chatter and actually do something, you really play the man.
Are you ready to play the man? Are you ready to turn passivity in action? Are you ready to have the courage it takes to face any trial in life? Facing trials with bravery out of selfish motives is one thing, but facing them to keep others safe is godly. When you are able to distinguish between to two, you will know the difference between playing the man and just acting like one.