What the Lord
Rebecca Lee—Calgary, Canada
TRAGEDY IN ZIKLAG
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
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.
STRENGTH IN THE LORD
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.
A KIND WORD
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
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.
A BEAUTIFUL MOMENT DESTROYED
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
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, those who
withhold from the poor, the perverted
men from Gibeah, the sons of
the rebels who despised Saul after he was anointed,
Nabal, and Jezebel’s
false witnesses—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.
ALL GLORY BELONGS TO 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
THEY SHALL SHARE ALIKE
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.
UNDERSTAND AND KNOW THE LORD
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.