There are many heroes of the Old Testament, but few are like David. The Star of King David identifies the Jewish people even today, but there is little historical and archaeological evidence to prove he ever existed. His story is incredibly iconic to the sovereign identity of the nation, but the stories of his young life and time on the run as a guerrilla warrior are what make him so interesting to me. The stories that follow the famed King David are also shared with those who joined him in battle. He had an elite troop of warriors and companions, much like other powerful warrior kings in ancient history. David and his “Mighty Men” had some incredible adventures together and one of the great things that comes out the stories surrounding the warrior king is the depiction that we get of their glorious deeds.
“These are the names of David’s mighty warriors: Josheb-Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter. Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim for battle. Then the Israelites retreated, but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead. Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory. During harvest time, three of the thirty chief warriors came down to David at the cave of Adullam, while a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. At that time David was in the stronghold, and the Philistine garrison was at Bethlehem. David longed for water and said, “Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!” So the three mighty warriors broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the Lord. “Far be it from me, Lord, to do this!” he said. “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?” And David would not drink it. Such were the exploits of the three mighty warriors. Abishai the brother of Joab son of Zeruiah was chief of the Three. He raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed, and so he became as famous as the Three. Was he not held in greater honor than the Three? He became their commander, even though he was not included among them. Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as famous as the three mighty warriors. He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard.” (2 Samuel 23:8-23 NIV)
It sounds like a drinking party at a Klingon after battle party. Each warrior is heralded for their incredible deeds and massive body counts. It is satisfying in an earthy guttural sense. For the big warrior types, which many roleplaying games can lean towards, having the time to build a name for themselves and the space to gloat is not always on our radar for creating a satisfying experience. It’s worth thinking about. As you spend time playing together, do you have space to celebrate the victories, the glory, and the honor you have earned to commemorate and rejoice together? It’s a subtle detail that can be just as rewarding as a treasure parcel. Well, almost as rewarding and it definitely builds a bond between the characters and the setting you are establishing.;