So David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away, and David rescued his two wives. And nothing of theirs was lacking, either small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything which they had taken from them; David recovered all.
~1 Samuel 30:18-19

When you become more like GOD through it all

The biggest lesson in this story (1 Samuel 30) is not that God turned everything around to create the happy ending worthy of a classic Hollywood script we just read. The most striking to me is David’s character demonstrated in his actions.

He didn’t complain, doubt himself or react in anger against his men who wanted to stone him. He didn’t question the calling or the leading of God because he was tested by a hard trial. He didn’t give up ministry or cop out in a safer, easier path of life. Since he was human, he must have been assaulted by negative thoughts. BUT they didn’t get the better of him: he didn’t allow them to dictate his decisions, affect his relationships, taint his leadership or sap his faith. He found strength in God and continued to run the race, influencing others to do the same. What a testimony of what God can do with a heart willing to be molded in intimate moments of fellowship with the Lord, over time, through tests and trials.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
~Hebrews 12:1-2

David also consulted God first, instead of acting alone – we already remarked that. This attitude exemplifies a transformed heart, a spiritual maturity.

He spared the Egyptian slave and showed him God’s mercy. Today, he could have said something along these lines: “You don’t deserve it but here’s a helping hand anyway because I want to be like Jesus, the champion of love and grace. To lead well, I don’t have to crush opposition. And I let God judge and correct. I trust Him to protect and lead me as I walk in kindness in my generation and inspire others to act alike.”

David was patient and gave people room to grow. Some “wicked and worthless men” were with him. Their selfish outlook on things almost brought strife and division. Their leader handled it:

Now David came to the two hundred men who had been so weary that they could not follow David, whom they also had made to stay at the Brook Besor. So they went out to meet David and to meet the people who were with him. And when David came near the people, he greeted them. Then all the wicked and worthless men of those who went with David answered and said, “Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except for every man’s wife and children, that they may lead them away and depart.” But David said, “My brethren, you shall not do so with what the Lord has given us, who has preserved us and delivered into our hand the troop that came against us. For who will heed you in this matter? But as his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be who stays by the supplies; they shall share alike.” So it was, from that day forward; he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel to this day.
~1Samuel 30:23-25

This reminds us the kingdom of God and its benefits are not only for the fittest and strongest, but for all who belong to Him. The strong should help the weak and cover them, protect them. Not only did David address the issue right there and then, but it became a policy in Israel! Awesome! Be good and generous with those who have less or cannot do as much; let them share in the joy and spoil when God gives you victory. Maybe you were disappointed by their attitude, effort or motivations, but do not cut them off. If you show compassion, God can use that experience to change them.

Who knows? Perhaps you might find some of the mighty warriors who made exploits for David years later among the 200 who stayed back that time…?

Remember John Mark in the New Testament: his first ministry experience with Paul and Barnabbas was an epic fail. But Barnabbas didn’t give up on him; later he had become a useful worker for the kingdom (2 Timothy 4:11). Anyone can be restored in his calling and faith if helped properly. Leaders, hear me out: such believers deserve encouragement not blame, prayer not pressure to perform, patience not indifference. Don’t shame them because they are/were weak, afraid, tired or without vision. Carry them. Love them. Build them up. Encamp around them so the enemy can’t isolate and tear them away. We are our brother’s keeper. The worthless men wanted them to leave; David did what God does: he kept them and took care of them. I love it. And I want to be like this.

Finally, because God’s love runs deep, David decided to share his blessing beyond his immediate circle.

Now when David came to Ziklag, he sent some of the spoil to the elders of Judah, to his friends, saying, “Here is a present for you from the spoil of the enemies of the Lord”— to those who were in Bethel, those who were in Ramoth of the South, those who were in Jattir, those who were in Aroer, those who were in Siphmoth, those who were in Eshtemoa, those who were in Rachal, those who were in the cities of the Jerahmeelites, those who were in the cities of the Kenites, those who were in Hormah, those who were in Chorashan, those who were in Athach, those who were in Hebron, and to all the places where David himself and his men were accustomed to rove.
~1 Samuel 30:26-31

He didn’t have to do it. But he remembered places he had been to, people who had blessed or helped him in his time of need, and he showed his gratefulness by sending them gifts. Maybe some did nothing or little for him, maybe others didn’t really care; however, because they were part of the people of God he wanted to treat them with generosity. Kindness knows no limit. Some of his men probably disagreed, seeing their portions of the spoil diminish; David, though, chose to open his heart and resources to others.

1 Samuel 30 talks about material blessings but it can have a deep spiritual application too. Thank you, David, for the lessons from Ziklag. If you, a rejected, small and unassuming shepherd boy turned fugitive, wandering in the wilderness, and leader of a group of rebels, were transformed gradually into God’s image, so shall we!

Each of us can be made part of today’s generation of believers according to God’s heart, a people of faith that changes the course of lives, communities and nations. The kingdom of God’s vision is as wide open as Christ’s arms on the Cross: it is for ALL. All who want must receive the blessings of our loving God. For His glory! What we get is not for our sole enjoyment, it must benefit others. That’s why God gives it. We recover all to share with all.