David's Triumph

1 Samuel 30
Today’s reading is all of Chapter 30, so you will need to read it out of your own Bible or click on the link below to read it in your browser. It is yet another great story from David’s life, so make sure you read the whole thing!

As the kingship of Saul declines (and in fact will end very soon), the leadership of David increases. Having been dismissed by the Philistines, David return to Ziklag, only to find that it has been burned to the ground and all of the women and children herded out as captives. The Amalekites, long the enemies of Judah and Philistia who now face each other on the battlefield, have swept through the area stealing livestock and people along the way. Naturally, David and his men are devastated. But, God’s hand has provided for those women and children as David and his men are no longer on the battlefield, but instead positioned to affect a rescue.

This story begs to be compared to some of Saul’s actions in the recent past. When faced with battle, Saul seeks out the counsel of a medium; something that is reprehensible and forbidden by God. David, on the other hand, seeks out the voice of God. When stress rises, what is on the inside squeezes out. Here is a prime example. While Saul did attempt to ask God about the battle he faced because there was no relationship between him and God, there was no answer for him. Who is able to get more of your attention; the kid up the street who seems troubled or your own child who needs your help? That’s an easy one to answer – for us and for God.

Not only does God grace David with an answer, it is a hopeful, grace-filled answer! The news is good. Not only will the Amalekites be caught and their wives and children not only found but rescued!  “When the rejected Saul inquired of the Lord, no answer came (28:6); when the man after [God’s] own heart (13:14) does the same, the Lord answers specifically and with precision. In this case David asks whether he should “pursue” the Amalekite raiders and, if so, whether he would be able to overtake them. The Lord’s response is immediate, clear, and full of encouragement: David is commanded to “pursue,” he will “certainly overtake”, and in addition—the divine bonus—he will succeed in the rescue”1

While God promises that the efforts to find and rescue their women and children will be successful, He also sends someone who will guide them right to the enemy. David doesn’t even have to spend time looking for the Amalekites! As search and rescue efforts go, it doesn’t get much easier than this. While David defeats his enemy every single one of the captives are found and freed. Their lives have been spared and there is plunder to share. When God blesses us, it is never half way. As the story unfolds we see David growing daily in his role as king and leader. He routs the enemy and he generously distributes the booty gained from the expedition against the advice of those who went to battle with him. Even those who stayed behind to “watch the baggage” are allowed to share in the newfound wealth. David shares because his attitude is not that they recovered plunder, but that God gifted them. So it must be shared not with the victors but with the entire community. And he makes that a law! Only kings make laws.

While Saul is facing defeat and death in his final battle, David is enjoying success and restoration. While Saul is depleting the resources of his people with war, David is bringing riches into the kingdom. While Saul consults with evil, David seeks after God and the comparisons clearly show the better path. Saul is a prime example of what happens to us when we go our own way and make up our own path. David is a prime example of what life looks like when we follow God. Does David always follow God? No, and we will see the results of that in 2 Samuel. But for now, the evidence is plain and our role model is David. He was a man after God’s own heart and the benefits of that are being played out on the pages of 1 Samuel in all their glory. Ultimately, the story is not about David, but about God, as is true of all the Scriptures. God is the triumphant one in a story where He is sought and followed. When all of the details are examined, God’s way is always the one where peace and blessing lay. Why would go any other way? (Well, because we are sinners – but that’s for another day.  J)

[1] Youngblood, R. F. (1992). 1, 2 Samuel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Volume 3: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.) (792). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.