(1 Samuel chapter 30)
Some people think that David became king of Israel because he could play the harp. No, sir. The reason David became king of Israel is because he had a certain kind of heart which we all need to have if we are to be kings and priests in the Kingdom of God.
The background to this story is that the Amalekites had come and attacked David’s town of Siklag, burning it to the ground and taking all the people (mainly women and children) while David and his men were away. But God gave David and his men direction, courage and strength and they followed after the Amalekites to rescue their people. But the Amalekites had had a 3-day start and this meant that David and his men had to move fast – too fast, in fact, that some men fainted by the way. When they arrived at a stream called Besor, two hundred men were unable to cross over, and David and some four hundred of his men who were able to move on had to leave these here, no doubt guarding any excess luggage.
David and his men caught up with the Amalekites and the Lord gave them a sounding victory over them. It appears the Amalekites were a very large number because the Bible says that “16 …. behold, they were spread abroad upon all the earth… And David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day: and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which rode upon camels, and fled.” 1 Sam. 30:16-17
Thus David rescued all his people and he recovered everything the Amalekites had stolen. But the Amalekites had also raided other cities and they therefore had an enormous amount of booty. All of this David and his men recovered also from them.
When David came back to the men whom he had left at the brook Besor, the Bible says that these men “went forth to meet David, and to meet the people that were with him: and when David came near to the people, he saluted them.” (v. 21)
David saluted them. I love that. He said, “Howdy, guys! How have you been?” I can see the warm smile on his face at finding his men safe, well and no doubt refreshed.
But, unfortunately, there were amongst the men who had gone with David to war “wicked men and men of Belial” (meaning men of Satan), who were against the 200 who had remained behind being given any of the spoils “save to every man his wife and his children, that they may lead them away, and depart.”
I cannot even begin to contemplate the utter helplessness and futility that the men to whom these words were directed felt. Those words must have been like knives cutting into their intestines. And it would have been doubly so, coming from their comrades-in-arms.
I thank God for men like David.
Now, if you are in church and you have such an attitude towards your fellow brethren as these men had, then the Bible straightaway calls you a wicked person and a son (or daughter) of the devil. That’s quite a rotten heart, anyway.
And while I am at it, may I point out that too many Christians today are trying to escape responsibility by playing the judgement card. If you say something they feel they are not comfortable with, they say, “Don’t be judgemental!” or “Don’t condemn!”
If someone is judging or condemning me, that’s their problem with God. On my part, it would be of far greater profit to me if I were to take their ‘judgement’ as a challenge.
But let us get back to David. When David heard these wicked men’s words, you would think that since they had played such a big part in the rescue mission David would hearken to them or try to hold some sort of council meeting with them.
But David promptly shot down the idea. But, even more importantly, it is the fashion in which he ‘killed’ that idea that is of interest to us here. “Then said David, Ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that which the LORD hath given us, who hath preserved us, and delivered the company that came against us into our hand.” (v. 23)
David did not say, “OK, guys, I know you’ve worked your knuckles off…”, no! In no way would David allow himself, nor those with him, to lose sight of the One who had given them the victory. He gave all the credit for the success of the mission to God.
There and then David declared that the spoils would be divided equally among those who had gone to battle and those who had remained behind.
And, the Bible says, “ it was so from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel unto this day.” (v.25)
If you can’t say “Amen!” to that you aren’t far from the grave.
When we get to know the righteousness of God, we arrive at the foundation of fulfilling God’s law in our lives. In the first place we are so humbled we consider ourselves as nothing. Secondly, we put God on the pedestal of our lives and since we are no longer there (we are dead to ourselves) we consider all that we have accomplished as not accomplished by us, but by Him.
Lastly, of course, we acknowledge that we are no different from those who have done lesser than we, or even those who have done nothing. I believe this is the greatest challenge facing many of the “self-made” Christians we see today. I personally won’t go as far as calling anyone “wicked men and men of Belial” here, but the Bible does so, and those words are certainly a shot across the bows of anyone who harbors pride and self-righteousness in their hearts.
When we are walking in the righteousness of God, we humbly acknowledge that He who accomplishes things in us is the same who fails to accomplish them in others. Human logic is thrown out the window here; you cannot say, “Oh, because I did this I deserve that!” Sometimes the reward will go to the one who did nothing. For God’s ways – and judgements – are unsearchable.
The Apostle Paul says, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” Rom. 11:33
[Below: Each one has a part to play in church; none is more important than the other.]