The year: 998 B.C. The place: Ancient Israel, near the end of King Saul’s reign. David is hiding with the Philistines as they prepare to march on Israel. The outcast’s soldiers are a rag tag band of all sorts: some are loyal to David and his God; others are there only for the spoil. Benaiah, one of David’s men, is sent alone to a northern village to fend off a lion that has been attacking the people and to secure loyalty to David. It’s a snowy day…
This is the scene the book Day of War opens with, and it is part one of a new series about David and his mighty men written by Cliff Graham, an officer in the National Guard. I heard of this series from a friend, and decided to go out on a limb and get it. I was not disappointed. Day of War is a violent book, so it’s not for everyone, but you must remember, it’s written about violent times. Cliff Graham did his best in accurately portraying the historical, geographical, and scriptural information given him; however, he does fill in the gaps with his own imagination, so this book isn’t “canon”.
Perhaps the thing I like most about Day of War is the fact that it portrays these men as real people with real emotions and real problems. They weren’t just perfect saints: they were rugged, dirty, hard men just like we see today. Benaiah, who is the focus character, has a lot of issues, trusting in God being number one. Though Joab is David’s nephew and impressive fighter, he’s a proud snob. David himself is often in turmoil, trying to decide what to do and where to go. Graham does an impressive job writing these characters’ personalities as they may very well have been.
Second, Day of War is a man’s book. Not just because it’s violent, though that’s part of it (sorry ladies, we sort of like the bloody stuff). One reviewer said, “It is deeply masculine, but not in sense of bulging muscles, macho, and blind killing machine sort of way, (it is a very violent book). Graham touches on the deeper part of manhood as the reader sees the main character, Benaiah, who suffers through the insecurities, guilt’s, and frustrations that every man battles during his life. The relationships between the main characters in the story evidence the fact that Graham has served in the military and understands the inexplicable bond of men who fight together.”
The front page contains this verse: “Oh LORD, my Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of war.” (Psalm 140:7). When the Spirit of the Lord comes upon a man, in this book, they call it “the covering”. A fire begins within, and out flows power to do your task, whether it’s fighting a thousand men, writing a Psalm, or receiving council. David explains to Benaiah that “It is the strength, courage, and power Yahweh equips us with. It girds a man’s loins when he needs it and lets a man know that Yahweh forgives him when he fails.” Thus the famous phrase is born: Cover me in the day of war.
A moment later, Benaiah asks, “But why the day of war? Why do we only ask for it then? Why not when a ma is in his field plowing? Why not when he is with his family, or when he has left them and wants them to be safe and protected?”
To which David simply replies, “Every day is the day of war.”
I was unable to put down Day of War as I was reading it. It’s moving and powerful. At the end of it, I was surprised how much I had learned from it, though it was never said directly. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can’t wait for the second one to come out. On top of that, at some point, there will be a movie. So, dear reader, if you are the type who enjoys films more than books, your thirst shall be slaked. Though, if you are that type, why you are reading this is a mystery to me.