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Week 3 May 2024, Devotion Part 1

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. 1 Samuel 30:24

“Then David came to the two hundred men, who had been too exhausted to follow… and…he saluted them. Then all the wicked and base fellows among the men who had gone with David said, ’Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil…’ But David said, ‘You shall not do so, my brothers’” (1 Samuel 30:21-23).


What made David salute the dropouts and soothe the disgruntled as equally worthy in his fledgling army? All 600 warriors shared the strain of his dicey Philistine asylum, a desperate ploy to evade the reach of mad, murderous King Saul. All had just geared up for war in the ranks of their hosts, only to be booted out as untrustworthy by some suddenly skittish leaders. Trudging back to their temporary home in Ziklag, they found the town looted and burned, and their families carried off by Amalekite raiders. His men wept to the point of exhaustion, wanting to stone their future king. “But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.” He then rallied enough warriors to pursue and plunder the raiders, recovering all that had been taken. His “share alike” decree of that day subsequently became binding for all of Israel. Saul would shortly be dead. (Part 1 of 2)


Comment: Of all the David stories in the annals of ancient Israel this is my all-time favorite one.  To me it shows most clearly why he was identified as “the man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). The reason I began to notice this was rooted long ago in my love of Psalm 34.  I memorized it, still recite parts of it almost every night, and have instructed my family to read it to me in case I should ever become too disabled to speak or respond coherently. “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth, my soul shall make its boast in the LORD; the humble shall hear it and rejoice.  O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.” Two verses later we read, “They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”  I’m still not sure who “they” are – I like to think it refers to the “humble” in verse 34:2.  The superscription to the Psalm is the eyeopener that starts to connect the dots, “A Psalm of David when he feigned madness before Abimelech, who drove him away and he departed.”  The fugitive from murderous King Saul had sought refuge from the King of Gath, Achish (Abimelech was his dynastic name, such as Pharaoh to the Egyptians).  His servants badmouthed David, who began to fear for his life.  So he pretended to be insane, “making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard” (1 Samuel 21:10-15).  His face was very far from “radiant,” but quite shameful, given his drooling mouth.  After a certain interval of time, an even more desperate David flees from Saul to Gath, willing to actually fight him in the ranks of the Philistines.  This time the impressed King Achish says, “I know that you are pleasing in my sight, like an angel of God; nevertheless the commanders of the Philistines have said, ‘He must not  go up with us to the battle’” (1 Samuel 29:9).  In reality it was God’s doing, who thus prevented David and his men from shedding their own people’s blood.

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