One characteristic was a consistent mainstay in my mother’s life, and although her body weakened with age, her vision dimmed, and her memory faded, she maintained that precious quality to her last breath. Benevolence, a desire to do good to others; charitableness, defined my mom’s life. She was always willing to take from her meager possessions and finances and share with anyone who was in need. And even when bed-ridden and worn down by years, that quality of benevolence never faded from her being, as evidenced by her sweet, caring attitude. As we age, if we are not vigilant, we can find ourselves discontented with life, set in our ways, self-involved, bitter from past hurts and present pains. But tucked away in the pages of Scripture is a little-known old man who carried benevolence with him to his ending days.
Barzillai the Gileadite is mentioned ten times in the Old Testament. He was a wealthy man from Rogelin in Gilead, living his simple life during the reign of King David. David was experiencing a crisis, a breaking point in his reign, fleeing in fear, escaping the wrath and rebellion ignited by a coup led by his own son, Absalom. As David runs from his beloved city of Jerusalem, this weary and broken exiled king crosses paths with Barzillai, an ordinary man who had a reputation of loyalty toward his God and a propensity for displaying kindness to those under his care. As Barzillai meets his discouraged king, he brought with him “beds, and basins, and earthen vessels…wheat…barley…flour…parched corn, and beans, and lentils, and parched pulse, and honey, and butter, and cheese kine, for David, and for the people that were with them.” Why this outrageously generous act of benevolence? Barzillai sensed the people were “hungry, and weary, and thirsty,” and when made aware of the need, he responded with bold action.
When the king eventually returns to Jerusalem in triumph, he wanted to reward the loyalty and kindness of the old man, Barzillai. “Come thou with me, I will feed thee with me in Jerusalem.” Come to my palace, old friend, allow me to care for you during the final years of your godly life. You will never want, never have cares, for I will provide for you at my table. But in his final meeting with David, Barzillai would again seek the welfare of another before himself. I am eighty-years old, my king, I am old. I can no longer ‘discern between good and evil…taste what I eat…what I drink.’ I am no longer able to hear ‘the voice of singing.’ But I can still be kind. I don’t want to be a burden to my king, so please consider my servant, Chimham, ‘let him go over with my lord,’ shower him with the affection and care that you would shower upon me. David would never forget the kindness of this old man, instructing his son, Solomon, to “shew kindness unto the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be of those that eat at thy table: for so they came to me when I fled because of Absalom thy brother.” Repay Barzillai’s benevolence by extending kindness to his children.
If you want to age gracefully, try a dash of benevolence, and bless the lives of those around you. You may not be able to help in a financial way, but we all can come alongside a struggling friend and offer our time, attention, and a compassionate ear; we can be generous with our prayers and concern; we can be on guard for the needs of others that we CAN meet. We can be benevolent. B is for Barzillai; B is for Benevolence.
II Cor. 4:16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
God, when I become self-centered, remind me of benevolence. Remind me of Your giving nature, and work through me to bless someone else. Make me a generous, giving woman.<div class='sharedaddy sd-block sd-like jetpack-likes-widget-wrapper jetpack-likes-widget-unloaded' id='like-post-wrapper-164683012-2107-6284197fbf82b' data-src='https://widgets.wp.com/likes/#blog_id=164683012&post_id=2107&origin=grandmasgleanings.com&obj_id=164683012-2107-6284197fbf82b' data-name='like-post-frame-164683012-2107-6284197fbf82b' data-title='Like or Reblog'><h3 class="sd-title">Like this:</h3><div class='likes-widget-placeholder post-likes-widget-placeholder' style='height: 55px;'><span class='button'><span>Like</span></span> <span class="loading">Loading...</span></div><span class='sd-text-color'></span><a class='sd-link-color'></a></div>