King David was the greatest warrior in the history of Israel. He was also a man of great equity, compassion, and generosity. This is what we learn in 1 Samuel 30:24, when he declared: “For as his share is who goes down into the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage. They shall share alike.”
Ziklag — the village where David, his family, and his men were staying — was raided by the Amalekites. They burned the village and captured all the women and children while David was away. When David returned, he “was greatly distressed” but “strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:1-2, 6).
In the middle of his pain and loss, David sought the Lord. The Lord led him to go after the Amalekites, so he took his 600 men and went after them. When they came to the brook Besor, 200 of the men had to stay behind because they “were too exhausted to cross the brook Besor”. They found an Egyptian servant wandering in the desert who led them to the Amalekite camp. David wastes no time in destroying the Amalekites and taking back what was taken from him and his followers.
When David returned, he was greatly distressed, but in the middle of his pain and loss, he sought the Lord
Then something really interesting happens. On their way back to Ziklag, David and his men rendezvous with the 200 men left at the brook Besor. David greets them. His men, however, start saying they will not share any of the spoil with them because they did not do any of the fighting. They say, “Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except that each man may lead away his wife and children, and depart” (1 Samuel 30:21, 22). These 200 men are told that they can have their families, but nothing else, and that they must leave.
David, in a display of courageous leadership fitting for a king, steps in and says, “No, that is not the way this army will operate.” He says that the Lord is the One who gave them the victory over the Amalekites, who gave them their families and belongings back, so it is therefore not up to the men to decide who gets what. The Lord gave them what they have so there must be no hoarding of the bounty. The wealth of the victory will be shared. “For as his share is who goes down into the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage. They shall share alike,” he says. This was such a profound moment that it became a perpetual rule for Israel (1 Samuel 30:25).
What do we learn from King David in this text? First, we learn that David (even before he was king) ruled with equity. He did not follow the greedy impulses of his men. He led his people to do what was fair and right. Second, we learn that David cared about all of his followers, not just the ones who did the fighting. He saw all 600 of his men as equals. Those who were tired and weak were not considered less worthy of his gifts. Third, we learn that David was a generous man. He could have easily kept all the spoil for himself. The people even said, “This is David’s spoil” (1 Samuel 30:20). But David considered other people’s interests as more important than his own (Philippians 2:4). He knew that the 200 men waiting by the river had also lost everything and needed more than just their families back. He did not pile up his wealth at the expense of those who were in need.
The final (and perhaps most important) thing we learn from David in this account is how he foreshadows his greatest Son. Like His ancestor, Jesus also rules with equity, cares about all of His people, and is incredibly generous. Jesus always judges fairly. He does not love people who are tired and weak any less. And He loves to share the wealth of His victory with all who follow Him.
The difference is that, unlike David, Jesus took on poverty in order to give us the wealth of His grace. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
In light of what the Son of David has done for us, may we grow in the grace of generosity, compassion and equity in a world full of needs.
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