For many years the U.S. Marine Corps used the recruiting slogan, “We’re looking for a few good men.” Part of the reasoning behind this slogan was that the Marine Corps is the smallest of the four primary military services, and has always been so. Another reason for this slogan is that not every man is cut out to be a Marine. Therefore, they are looking for quality instead of quantity. The idea of a few good men has biblical precedent, although the U.S. Marine Corps is likely unaware of it.
Early in the reign of King Saul Israel was a war with the Philistines. Saul was camped at Gibeah with his pitifully small army of about 600 men. The Philistines were encamped at Michmash with three companies of men who raided Israel with impunity. In 1 Sam. 14:1 Saul’s son Jonathan called his armor-bearer to accompany him to the garrison of the Philistines which stood across a pass from them. Jonathan had great faith in God and in v. 6 said to his armor-bearer, “Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; perhaps the Lord will work for us, for the Lord is not restrained to save by many or by few.” Jonathan’s faith in God was rewarded with a great victory over the Philistines that day. This victory was precipitated by a few good men who trusted in God.
During the reign of King David Israel was again at war with the Philistines. David and his army were in the cave of Adullam, while the Philistines were encamped in Bethlehem, David’s home town. In 2 Sam. 23:15 David idly expressed his wish that he could drink from the well that was by the gate in Bethlehem. V. 16 tells us that three mighty men fought their way into the city, drew water from the well, fought their way out again, and brought the water to David. These men, Adino the Eznite, Eleazar the son of Dodo, and Shammah the son of Agee, were the greatest of David’s mighty men (cf. 2 Sam. 23:8-12). David was so moved by their feat that he poured out the water as a drink offering to God.
The principle of God bringing about victory with a few good men is well attested in the Old Testament. It is also evident in the New Testament. Early in His ministry the Lord chose twelve ordinary men to be His apostles. Except for Judas, these few good men became the vehicle by which the gospel was carried throughout the known world in the first century. Compared to the masses of people at that time, these men were far too few to accomplish so great a mission, yet they were able to do so because they gave themselves in obedience to the Lord and served Him faithfully until death.
Today, the Lord is still not restrained to save by many or by few. In most places around the world, His church survives and carries on His mission through the work of a few good men. These men show the trust and confidence in God that Jonathan possessed. They also show the resolve to do whatever their master requires, no matter the cost, like the three mighty men of David. They also know their limitations, like the twelve apostles, but they do not allow these to deter their service. They know that the victory belongs to the Lord.
The search for a few good men never ends, because as one generation of good men passes, another generation must arise to take their place. Those who stand up for the Lord will always be few, but this fact must not discourage us. Our Father in heaven has proven that He can save by a few. Therefore, let us trust Him and choose to be one of the few good men whom He can use to accomplish His purposes.