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What happens when the king’s most obedient soldier is issued a wicked command?

Benaiah is valiant against men and beasts. He is known for three heroic deeds that lead to his appointment in the elite force of David’s Mighty Men: aggressively going down into a pit on a snowy day to kill a lion; fighting two Moabite ariels; and challenging a giant Egyptian, armed with only a staff, and killing him with the man’s own spear.

 

When David is crowned king, Benaiah is made his chief bodyguard and eventually head of the whole army of Israel under King Solomon.

 

Reeling from the tragic cost of disobedience when he was young, Benaiah directs his life toward one chief aim: to be found a faithful, loyal, valiant and obedient soldier, servant of the King and follower of Yahweh.

 

But when “just following orders” leads to his part in adultery, murder and death, he questions his life’s direction. If both obedience and disobedience cause death, how can he ever find redemption?

What happens when the king’s most obedient soldier is issued a wicked command?

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Benaiah is valiant against men and beasts. He is known for three heroic deeds that lead to his appointment in the elite force of David’s Mighty Men: aggressively going down into a pit on a snowy day to kill a lion; fighting two Moabite ariels; and challenging a giant Egyptian, armed with only a staff, and killing him with the man’s own spear.

 

When David is crowned king, Benaiah is made his chief bodyguard and eventually head of the whole army of Israel under King Solomon.

 

Reeling from the tragic cost of disobedience when he was young, Benaiah directs his life toward one chief aim: to be found a faithful, loyal, valiant and obedient soldier, servant of the King and follower of Yahweh.

 

But when “just following orders” leads to his part in adultery, murder and death, he questions his life’s direction. If both obedience and disobedience cause death, how can he ever find redemption?

Want to read the whole story?

Endorsements for Benaiah: Mighty Man of God

”For ancient cultures, stories—some rooted in history, others not—were central to the passing-on of wisdom and knowledge. One thinks of the Bible for the Hebrews, the Epic of Gilgamesh for the Sumerians, the Iliad and Odyssey for the Greeks, and the Aeneid for the Romans. This fictional account of one of David's mighty men, Benaiah, takes the small amount of history that we know about this ancient Jewish warrior, found in the cycle of stories about David in the Old Testament, and weaves a convincing story about what he might have experienced and what he might have been like. A book imparting wisdom and pleasure at the same time—it does not get much better than this!“


Michael A. G. Haykin
Professor of Church History, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Louisville, KY.

“Benaiah: A Mighty Man of God demonstrates that an author need not rely on the sort of unrestrained embellishment that characterizes many works of historical fiction in order to present a subject in vivid colors. Throughout this thrilling story, Thompson’s high view of Scripture is evident as she connects the dots to show us the life and mission of one of the central characters in King David’s administration. Even better, she skillfully connects the dots that reveal the central character in the Bible’s storyline: the promised Messiah. Readers of this book will find themselves revelling in the gospel of grace and glorifying the God of Mercy.”


David N. Theobald
Pastor, Grace Baptist Church, Dansville, NY

“In Benaiah, Mighty Man of God, P.H. Thompson fleshes out a little-known character in the Bible, a soldier during the reign of David whose exploits rivalled—and sometimes surpassed—those of the king he served. Drawing on Biblical references and her knowledge of the time and historical events, Thompson paints a fascinating portrait of a man who dedicated his life to his king and his God, and who was immortalized in the pages of Scripture as a result.”


Sara Davison
Author of the Award-winning Seven Trilogy

“In Benaiah, Mighty Man of God we experience the life and times of King David through the eyes of Benaiah, one of David’s mighty men. Benaiah’s quest for redemption drives his loyalty but also leads to inner conflict when David orders him to do unconscionable things. A character list, Bible quotes headlining each chapter, and a set of discussion questions add clarity and value to this well-written Bible fiction. Thompson delivers a fascinating and worthwhile read.”


Violet Nesdoly
Author of Destiny’s Hands

Endorsements for Benaiah: Mighty Man of God

"A book imparting wisdom and pleasure at the same time—it does not get much better than this!“


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”For ancient cultures, stories—some rooted in history, others not—were central to the passing-on of wisdom and knowledge. One thinks of the Bible for the Hebrews, the Epic of Gilgamesh for the Sumerians, the Iliad and Odyssey for the Greeks, and the Aeneid for the Romans. This fictional account of one of David's mighty men, Benaiah, takes the small amount of history that we know about this ancient Jewish warrior, found in the cycle of stories about David in the Old Testament, and weaves a convincing story about what he might have experienced and what he might have been like. A book imparting wisdom and pleasure at the same time—it does not get much better than this!“


Michael A. G. Haykin
Professor of Church History, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Louisville, KY.

“Benaiah: A Mighty Man of God demonstrates that an author need not rely on the sort of unrestrained embellishment that characterizes many works of historical fiction in order to present a subject in vivid colors. Throughout this thrilling story, Thompson’s high view of Scripture is evident as she connects the dots to show us the life and mission of one of the central characters in King David’s administration. Even better, she skillfully connects the dots that reveal the central character in the Bible’s storyline: the promised Messiah. Readers of this book will find themselves revelling in the gospel of grace and glorifying the God of Mercy.”


David N. Theobald
Pastor, Grace Baptist Church, Dansville, NY

“In Benaiah, Mighty Man of God, P.H. Thompson fleshes out a little-known character in the Bible, a soldier during the reign of David whose exploits rivalled—and sometimes surpassed—those of the king he served. Drawing on Biblical references and her knowledge of the time and historical events, Thompson paints a fascinating portrait of a man who dedicated his life to his king and his God, and who was immortalized in the pages of Scripture as a result.”


Sara Davison
Author of the Award-winning Seven Trilogy

“In Benaiah, Mighty Man of God we experience the life and times of King David through the eyes of Benaiah, one of David’s mighty men. Benaiah’s quest for redemption drives his loyalty but also leads to inner conflict when David orders him to do unconscionable things. A character list, Bible quotes headlining each chapter, and a set of discussion questions add clarity and value to this well-written Bible fiction. Thompson delivers a fascinating and worthwhile read.”


Violet Nesdoly
Author of Destiny’s Hands

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About The Author

P.H. Thompson is a former oncology nurse, turned writer. When not writing, she leads women’s Bible studies, speaks at women’s conferences, spoils her two active grandchildren, and takes long naps to recover. She and her husband live near Toronto and have two adult daughters. She is a member of The Word Guild, Canada and ACFW, the American Christian Fiction Writers, and ALLi, the Alliance of Independent Authors.

 

Benaiah: Mighty Man of God is her first novel.

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Interview with the Author

First, like most writers, I’m also a reader, and Biblical fiction is a genre I really enjoy. The section of Scripture it’s based on, 1 and 2 Samuel, and a part of 1 Kings has so many exciting stories to work with. By taking a minor character, like Benaiah, who was David’s chief bodyguard, I felt I could tell familiar stories through his eyes, since he would have been there and been privy to many conversation and events.
Mostly, I start any novel by asking questions:
Who was that servant on the roof with David that evening? It must have also been one of the mighty men, since he knew who Bathsheba was.
But what would make him obey such an order? This was the first scene I wrote, then I worked backwards to give him his motivation for obeying at all costs. His inciting incident (which is what writers call the event that set him on this trajectory of his life of obedience) was the tragic consequences of disobedience when he was young.
I wondered how he felt once he saw the consequences of his actions. My research led me to wonder who Benaiah was. He is always mentioned in connection with his father, Jehoiada, who was a priest. As the son of a priest, he would also have been expected to become one, yet he became a soldier instead. So I explore that as well.

With a more obscure biblical character like Benaiah, I used the few verses where he is named or quoted and incorporated them into the story. Because of his many roles, I felt it was safe to assume he was present during many key events in Israel’s history and privy to many conversations in the palace, as well as David’s personal actions. Many of the stories in this novel are familiar, but they are told from Benaiah’s point of view.

We know he was married and had at least two sons: Ammizabad, who was a soldier (1 Chronicles 27:6) and Jehoiada, named after his grandfather, who became an adviser to the king after Ahithophel’s suicide (1 Chronicles 27:34).

We don’t know why he became a soldier instead of a priest. We don’t know about his early life and family before he was married. We don’t know anything about his wife, so I filled in the gaps with my imagination. We don’t know how he felt when asked to follow commands he knew to be wrong, like the proposed attack on the family of Nabal and Abigail, or to summon the wife of his friend and fellow soldier, Uriah. Why did Scripture record this conversation between Benaiah and Solomon of Benaiah clarifying orders? We don’t know everything he was privileged to witness during this pivotal time in Israel’s history.

Writers often call these their book babies. Benaiah is my firstborn. Well, for him, I was pregnant for seven long years. When I got sick, my brain fog forced me to put it on hold. I sent it off to an editor in California so I felt like it was still moving along, as long as someone’s eyes were on it. Then the opportunity came up to enter a contest. When publishing professionals saw some merit in it by giving it an honourable mention, my husband and I decided to make it happen. It also coincided with my 55th birthday and it was a bucket list item. So now my baby is finally born. When the boxes of books arrived, I opened the box and checked all its figurative fingers and toes.

I write Biblical, historical fiction. I like to write in that genre because I love the Bible. It has so many exciting stories to encourage us in our faith and many lessons to teach us. I find that this genre, when done right, will make us appreciate the Bible more and read it with fresh appreciation. I love studying and researching it, and I love to read good fiction based on real people. Since I also enjoy military history and military fiction, I was drawn to this amazing man. So this was a good merger.

In historical fiction, it is the author’s duty to be true to the events that happened, and then to use poetic license to fill in the gaps. I feel the standard is even higher with biblical, historical fiction. So I feel the pressure to get it right, but I only flesh out the unknowns.

My research taught me that an ariel was more likely a platoon of soldiers than a lion-like man. That made me respect him more. I was also impressed with his lifetime of obedience which led to his appointment to the head of the army under King Solomon. Once I imagined how Benaiah thought and what he desired (redemption/acceptance by God) I could imagine how he would think in the various events of David’s life.

A few things. First, I hope my readers will first of all just enjoy the story and imagine themselves there with Benaiah, at David’s side.
I want these familiar stories to come alive and have readers think about some of the deeper issues the story brings out, like grace, faithfulness in marriage, consequences of sin, and God’s sovereignty.
I want them to feel his ethical dilemmas along with him. Even though three thousand years separate us, people are still the same. He struggled with many of the same issues as you and I do. We want God to accept us. Is it just about obedience? What role does grace play?
I want the story to drive them to Scripture to re-read these events and picture Benaiah there as they happen. I want them to see the people in Scripture as real people. For those unfamiliar with these stories, or for those who would never open a Bible, I think it will surprise them to see that all these things are there in Scripture to teach us and to show that there is forgiveness even for scarlet sins like adultery and murder.
And as one of my endorsements says, I want it to be a book “imparting both wisdom and pleasure at the same time.”

Yes, more Biblical, historical fiction, exploring the story of Joseph. You only think you know the story.

That would have to be the death of David and Bathsheba’s child. I actually wrote it on the train on my way into a night shift and it made me cry. Note to self: don’t write an emotional scene in public.

I have so many favourites, but I think Philippians 4:8 is a good overall verse to remind me to focus on worthwhile things. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

Ha! Do I want to admit this? About twenty, ten romance, one historical, and the rest non-fiction. I’m hoping to get to them one day. I have no shortage of things to write about. It’s the finishing of a project before I’m bewitched by a new idea that’s the problem.

Well, since all those unfinished books are the result of flying by the seat of my pants, and my finished book is the result of outlining, I’d have to say I’m a converted pantser, and will only plot my novels from now on.

No, because in the New Testament, when asked by soldiers what they should do to show their faith, John the Baptist did not tell them to stop being soldiers, but only to not abuse their power. “So he said to them, ‘Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.’”(Luke 3:14) Paul told new believers to stay in the state in which they were called, as believers, unless it was a sinful situation.

I think we have to realize the dynamic between men and women in that culture, as well as the added factor that David was a king and Bathsheba had no advocate. I don’t believe he forced her, but I do think there was some coercion.

It’s available in Christian bookstores, from my publisher Word Alive Press, on Amazon or Chapters, also in Kindle or Kobo format, but signed copies are available from my website phthompson.com

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