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 (Manna 71: What Does God Require of You?)
What the Lord Delights In
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What the Lord Delights In

Rebecca Lee—Calgary, Canada


First Samuel chapter thirty records one of the most distressing times for David and his men; perhaps more distressing than being fugitives from Saul when they had to constantly rove from place to place. It was the time when their temporary dwelling place, Ziklag, had been burned and their wives, sons, and daughters taken captive by the Amalekites.

Here we have an emotionally charged scene: hundreds of families torn apart, mighty men wept until they had no more energy to weep, and everyone completely uncertain of the future. David’s men, who had been loyal to him all along, even “spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved” (1 Sam 30:6). With such bitterness and tension, it is difficult to imagine a happy ending.


But we see that David reacted differently, even though his own family had also been taken from him. He looked no further than to God for strength, and with that strength, he was able to lead his men, under the guidance of the Lord, to recover all that had been stolen.

Of the six hundred men, two hundred were too weary to cross Brook Besor and stayed behind with the supplies. David and four hundred men went after the Amalekites and triumphantly recovered everything from them. Just imagine the joyful family reunions that followed—wives embracing their knights-in-shining-armor and children waiting to exalt their fathers for rescuing them.

This may appear to be a happy ending, but much more follows when we read on. From these subsequent events, we can learn three important characteristics of David that the Lord delighted in and how these characteristics apply to our servitude today.


On their return to Brook Besor, the two hundred men who were anxiously waiting must have been exhilarated at the very sight of their loved ones returning! David and his men, however, would have been exhausted after attacking the Amalekites from twilight of the previous day until evening of that day. Yet David somehow found the strength to greet the two hundred and ask about their welfare. Such lovingkindness and compassion could have only come from the strength that the Lord gave him.

David was a great leader, but that did not stop him from showing lovingkindness to the people around him. This is what the Lord delighted in and something we should apply in our interactions with our brethren. Sometimes we may be given a task or responsibility in church that seems to be more important than what others are doing. However, we should be careful not to disregard or ignore our brothers and sisters in the background, no matter how preoccupied we are.

Perhaps we may be completely exhausted or anxious to get on with personal matters, but we should never be too tired or too busy to greet our brethren and ask about their well-being. Sometimes we tend to underestimate the emotional comfort a simple greeting like “How are you” can bring to a person. It can make the difference between someone feeling coldly neglected or warmly cared for in the house of God.


Back in this beautiful scene of a triumphant return—when the two hundred men who stayed behind were about to be reunited with their families, an ugly turn of events emerged. The Bible describes that “all the wicked and worthless men of those who went with David” suddenly became territorial and did not want to divide the spoils they recovered. Not only that, they wanted the two hundred men to take their own families and be gone. In their opinion, these two hundred did not deserve any of the spoils or the glory.

Think about it—these men who had just fought alongside David, accomplishing the will of God, were now referred to as “wicked and worthless”! The Hebrew word for worthless is belial, which encompasses a range of meanings such as being ungodly, evil, corrupt, or useless. What is interesting is that the Bible uses this very same word to describe idolaters[1], those who withhold from the poor[2], the perverted men from Gibeah[3], the sons of Eli[4], the rebels who despised Saul after he was anointed[5], Nabal[6], and Jezebel’s false witnesses[7]—just to name a few. So after a great victory from God, David’s men brought shame and humiliation to themselves when they revealed what was in their hearts.

In the same way, when we start to think that we are better than our brothers or sisters, we tread on dangerous ground. Perhaps we may not only ignore them but may even go so far as to despise them! Such feelings might arise when we feel that others just sat around while we did all the hard work. Perhaps we might then also want them to take what is theirs and be on their way, thinking that we are fair. However, if we think like this, we would be placed in the same category as all the worthless people in the Bible! Any kind of reward from God for the work we have done would automatically be stripped away. Any worker who compares his worth to another worker and prides himself as better is deemed worthless in the eyes of God.


To their amazement, David calmly told the four hundred, “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.” This humble response from David must have made them feel ashamed of themselves. Yet, all the while, David maintained his composure and did not reprimand them.

One stark difference between David and his men was how they viewed their victory. The men felt that they had recovered what was theirs and that the spoil was a bonus reward. Likewise, when we feel that we own the victories God gives us in life, we may make the same mistake as these men. We may feel as though everything is a given and that we deserve what we have worked hard for. However, in doing so, we are keeping the glory from God when, in fact, all glory belongs to Him. For without God, we have nothing and can do nothing (Acts 17:28; Jn 15:5).

David, however, saw the big picture. He saw how every man broke down at the thought of losing their loved ones. He too lost hope for a second, but remembered to strengthen himself in the Lord and was able to pursue the Amalekites. He saw how God preserved his people’s lives and the lives of their families. He saw how God delivered the enemy into their hands as He had promised. He saw how everything was graciously given from the Lord.

David rightly judged the situation with a perspective from above, and the Lord delighted in this also. We too must learn to see things from God’s perspective rather than our own. Only then can we humble ourselves and give all glory to God as we serve Him.


David went on to say, “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” (1 Sam 30:24). This short but authoritative statement shows that the righteousness of God was in David. Because no one could refute such righteousness, he boldly set the precedent that day, making equal respect a “statute and an ordinance for Israel to this day” (1 Sam 30:25).

From God’s righteousness, which David emulated, we can learn that all church work is equally important and no work should be slighted. The apostle Paul put this aptly:

And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor... God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

(1 Cor 12:23-26)

Nowadays, this may apply to us when we are assigned to do tasks that we do not view as important. Perhaps, like the men who went to battle, we only desire or accept tasks that show instant results. We do not view menial tasks with similar importance as tasks that provide high profile and have far-reaching effects. Yet in God’s righteous eyes, any kind of work that we do for Him is valuable, and we all share alike in His blessings.


From these events at Ziklag, we can see that David’s perspectives always transcended that of his men—whether they were faced with a devastating situation or a triumphant victory. This was because David chose to look from God’s perspective and acknowledged that he was nothing before God. In David’s heart was God’s own lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness—evident in his words and his doings. The Lord clearly delights in these, as it is written in Jeremiah 9:23–24:

Thus says the Lord:

“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,

Let not the mighty man glory in his might,

Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;

But let him who glories glory in this,

That he understands and knows Me,

That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.

For in these I delight,” says the Lord.

Let us keep in mind that the mentioned events occurred before David became the King of Judah. In other words, he was not yet exalted as a wise, mighty, or rich man who should receive glory. Yet because David had always understood and known the heart of God, he, unlike Saul, remained highly favored by God and by men even after he was anointed as king.

In times of distress, let us strengthen ourselves in the Lord. In times of victory, let us give all the glory to Him. May we always strive to have a loving, humble, and righteous heart like David in our life of service to God so that He may also delight in us.

[1] Deut 13:13

[2] Deut 15:9

[3] Judg 19:22, 20:13

[4] 1 Sam 2:12

[5] 1 Sam 10:27

[6] 1 Sam 25:25

[7] 1 Kgs 21:10,13

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Author: Rebecca Lee