David’s life had gotten pretty complicated and this day was particularly rough. At this point in his life he was on the run from King Saul, who was trying to kill him. David had about 600 soldiers with him along with their families and he figured a safe place to get away from someone trying to kill him was in the land of his enemies.
So David along with his men and their families went to stay with the Philistine king Achish in Gath. Gath of course was the home town of Goliath, whom David had killed some 16 or so years earlier. Living in the land of his enemies put David in a bit of a sticky situation.
Still Loyal to Someone Trying to Kill Him
In spite of the fact that Saul wanted him dead, David was still loyal to the Israelites and even to Saul. By this time David had been presented with two different opportunities to kill Saul and flat out refused to do so. As far as David was concerned, God put Saul on the throne of Israel. Even though David himself had secretly been anointed king over Israel by the prophet Samuel years earlier, David refused to be the one to raise a hand against one whom God himself had installed as king. David trusted his promotion to come from God, not by his own hand.
So to give himself a little breathing room to live in the land of the Philistines where Saul couldn’t get at him, but not be under the Philistine king’s nose, David got permission to move with his troops and all their families down to Ziklag, which was a town in the southern part of the land given to Judah back in Joshua’s time. But at this time it was still controlled by the Philistines.
Making a Living Amongst the Enemy
David and his troops had to make a living. Their one skill was fighting, which in that day and time meant they were basically a big raiding party and earned their living by attacking communities and taking their stuff.
So what David did was attack the allies of the Philistines down further south from where they lived. Yet he would report back to the Philistine king that he was raiding the Israelites and their allies instead. To make sure his deception wasn’t uncovered, David had a policy of never leaving any survivors when they attacked a place. That way no one could report back who was responsible for the raid.
David could be a brutal guy at times.
Going to War Against Saul
The Philistines decided to go to war with Israel and their king basically told David, “you’re coming with me on this one.” David’s response was simply, “You’ve seen what I can do.”
So even though he didn’t want to fight against the them David and his men set out with the Philistine army for war with Israel and Saul.
Did I mention that his life was complicated?
Fortunately for David, the other leaders of the Philistines were able to talk some sense into their king. The short version is that they thought David was likely a spy and would turn on them in the heat of the battle. They forced the king to have David go back home and sit out that particular battle.
First thing the next morning David and his men turned back south for home while the Philistines continued north to war with Saul.
Unfortunately, as soon as the Philistine army headed north to war with Israel, the Amalekites came in and raided some of the southern towns they left unprotected. When David and his men got back to Ziklag they found the city burned and all of the people had been taken as slaves. David’s family and the families of all his men were gone.
Grief and despair overwhelmed his men and some started talking about killing David for allowing that to happen.
Did I mention he was having a bad day?
Not knowing what to do, David asked God, which is always a good idea anyway. God’s response was to go after the raiding party. God said they would catch them and get back everything they lost.
They set out after the Amalekites right away. In their pursuit they came to a river.
By this point his men were exhausted. Between all the ground they’d covered, some at a forced march, and the emotional toll of finding their homes destroyed and their families taken prisoner, many of his men didn’t think they could go on across the river.
Plus it was likely going to be a bit of a hassle to get all their supplies and excess equipment across the river. Getting all their stuff across the river would have slowed them down at a time when every delay reduced the chances of them catching up with the raiders and reuniting with their families.
So David left a full third of his troops who were just to tired to go any further there on the bank of the river with all their supplies and continued the pursuit of the Amalekites with the rest.
Finally as it was getting dark David and what was left of his army caught up with the raiders and attacked them. The Bible says the battle lasted “from twilight until the evening of the next day.” After traveling hard for at least an entire day, all the emotional trauma of coming home to a burnt out city with their families taken, they end up fighting a 24 hour long battle.
But in the end they got everything and everyone back, apparently without losing a man themselves.
Actually it was even better than that. The Amalekites had raided many more places than just their town. So David’s men really ended up getting all their stuff back plus a whole lot more.
Once they gathered up everything they headed back to Ziklag.
Conflict in the Ranks
When they got back to the third of the army that were too tired to fight some of the troops who fought in the battle started to grumble. Let’s pick up the story in 1 Samuel chapter 30.
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.— 1 Samuel 30:21-25
Basically some of the guys who fought in the battle thought that the ones who were too tired to continue on didn’t deserve any share of the loot they took from the Amalekites. Their attitude seems to make sense: You fight the fight, you get the loot.
Yet look how the Bible describes the men who expressed this view. The Bible says they were “wicked and worthless men.”
Keep in mind these are some of the same men who marched for God knows how long in pursuit of their enemy and then fought with them more then 24 hours straight to completely win the day.
Their actions were good. But their hearts were completely wrong.
At the same time it might be understandable to think that those 200 guys who were too tired to go and fight were maybe a little on the lazy side. After all we’re talking about a fight that lasted an entire night and all the next day. While that was happening the 200 were hanging out resting at the oasis with all the supplies.
If we’re talking about who earned what it seems obvious that those who actually fought the battle were more deserving than those who stayed back with the stuff. But David, a man after God’s own heart, said that’s not the case.
In fact, David pointed out that their victory was given to them by God and not due to their own military prowess. He basically said those guys were talking crazy talk. No one should listen to what they were saying.
Then he makes it simple for everyone to understand:
The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.1 Samuel 30:24
Everyone who participates at any level gets the same reward. Period.
Ultimately that decision was so powerful that the same policy carried over into the kingdom of Israel after David became king. It gives us an insight into how the Kingdom of God operates.
That same principle is in operation today. Just like back then, today it takes an entire team of people to accomplish what God has planned. There are those who go out as missionaries. There are those who work on the staff of organizations to support the missionaries in their work. And then there are those who send missionaries by providing the finances needed to accomplish the work.
Every member of the team is critical to the overall success of the mission. And every member of the team receives an equal share in the rewards of the missionary work no matter what their role is on the team.
Listen to what Jesus said to the disciples when Peter pointed out that they had given up everything they had to follow Jesus.
So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time — houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions — and in the age to come, eternal life.”— Mark 10:29-30
Jesus said that those who leave people and things behind for him and for the sake of the gospel will receive a hundredfold return on their sacrifice now in this time.
Senders Get Same Reward as Those Who Go
Set what Jesus said alongside the Kingdom principle David put in place when he recovered what was stolen from him at Ziklag and we see how people can see a missionary’s reward even when they themselves can’t go.
By partnering with a ministry financially you join their team. That makes something happen in the spiritual realm which entitles you to the same reward that missionary receives, and in the same measure the missionary receives it.
The soldiers who stayed back with the supplies were every bit part of David’s army as the troops who fought the day long battle. In the same way those who support missionaries financially are every bit a missionary as those who are able to go and do the physical work of the mission.
If you want to see a hundredfold return now in this time then partner financially with a missionary today. Then watch what God does in the spiritual realm to increase your reward.