The Hidden Bible Story of Barzillai and What It Says About Using Wealth and Influence for Good

by Vip Vipperman

Wealth and influence – it’s a topic that comes up regularly in the business and nonprofit worlds, whether it is expressly mentioned or just thought about silently at networking events.  It’s important in the world, whether you are a believer or not, and it’s important to God.

And with this importance comes questions. What do we do with the wealth and influence we have? How can we get more of both? Are we wrong to want more? And ultimately, what would God have us do with both the wealth and influence we have and our desires for more? 

Using Wealth and Influence for Good: a Biblical Example

Throughout the Bible, we see how God calls people to use their wealth and influence to achieve His purposes. Most people know the stories of Abraham, Moses, David and the 12 disciples, but you might not know about Barzillai.

Hidden in the chapters of 2 Samuel is the story of a wealthy man named Barzillai, a believer in God and a supporter of King David – even when it wasn’t convenient or beneficial to be a supporter of the King.  In this portion of David’s story, he and his entourage are running away from his rebellious son, Absalom, who had staged a coup against his father and taken over Jerusalem.  But Barzillai remained loyal and hosted David and his men during this trying time, which was risky and expensive (2 Sam 17:27-28).

Eventually, Absalom died, and the rebellion ended, leaving David ready to head back and take his place back as the rightful king in Jerusalem. But before he crossed the river to head home, he paused to invite his patron Barzillai to come back with him so he could be given the royal treatment for the rest of his life.  Who wouldn’t want that?  Actually, Barzillai.  He already had wealth and influence.  He was content with where he was, and all he wanted was to return home to his land and his family and rest in peace.

However, he didn’t just decline the invitation and move on. Rather, he decided to use his influence to elevate another, his buddy Chimham, and made a move that changed Chimham’s life forever. He asked David to allow Chimham to take his place, to receive the place of honor David had offered to Barzillai.  In a way, Barzillai became a sponsor for Chimham’s career, opening up doors that he never could have opened without Barzillai using his influence on his behalf.

Barzillai’s influence and sponsorship of Chimham placed him in a position of wealth, prominence, power and influence unparalleled as one who sits at the table of the King. Chimham crossed the river with David and headed back to Jerusalem as one of the King’s inner circle.

Wealth, Influence and you

So, let’s bring this to present day.  How does this apply to us?

If you are a Barzillai – an investor or someone established in your career – you have an opportunity to lift up entrepreneurs in business and nonprofit worlds as well as those in the beginning stages of their careers, to introduce them to patrons, to share your influence and network so that they can be propelled and accelerated along in the process of growing their businesses, establishing their careers and impacting the world for Christ. 

For those who have recently exited a business, there is an opportunity to stay engaged in business after “retiring.”  Consider being a part of lifting a future leader up, taking them under your wing and allowing them to benefit from your wisdom, experience and influence.

If you are a Chimham – a new entrepreneur or someone just starting out – be praying for and actively looking for those potential Barzillais that might be a sponsor for your future, and don’t forget to pay it forward as you become more established. We all have something to give, no matter the season we are in.

So, how will you be a Barzillai to the Chimhams in your life?  How will you leverage the position, experience, power, influence and wealth you have gained over the years?  It’s an important question to consider because we know we can’t take it with us when our time here is done.

We asked a question at the beginning of this – what would God have us do with our wealth and influence? This story only partially answers that question by giving an example of what God has done with wealth and influence in the past, but Barzillai is just one story. We all have something to offer, and God will do something with what we offer Him.

So how will you use what God has given you to lift up others?  And how will your wealth and influence be remembered in the footnotes of these pages?  Will it be remembered as a tool to increase your own status and glory or a tool that lifted others up and brought honor and glory to God?

If you want to learn more about how you can be a Barzillai, contact