By Al R. Hodges
Retired IMB Missionary
Focal Passage: I Samuel 30:6-8, 18-25
In my early years as a missionary in Africa, Alan, a missionary from Ireland, was a close friend. When I experienced times of loneliness or difficulty, Alan would smile and say through his Irish accent, “Brother, we are not on the winning side … we are on the side that has WON!”
Although David had been invited by Saul to rejoin him (I Samuel 26:21), he decided it safer to live among the Philistines for a while (I Samuel 27:7). He convinced Achish, the Philistine king of Gath that he had defected from Israel, and would be on the Philistine side. Achish believed David, and allowed him and his 600 men along with their families and livestock, to live 15 miles away in the city of Ziklag (ch. 27:6). David used Ziklag as a base from which to launch raids against Israel’s enemies. When the Philistine kings united to launch a major offensive against Saul and Israel, Achish recruited David to join him. However the other kings objected and David was sent back to Ziklag (I Samuel 29:1-11).
Saul became terrified because of the Philistine forces (I Samuel 28:5). He could no longer call upon God for help, so he turned to a spiritual medium, only to learn from that experience that he would die in battle the following day. God’s judgment on the disobedient king had finally come (ch. 28:17-19).
When David and his men returned to Ziklag, they were shocked to find the city in smoldering ruins (I Samuel 30:1-5). Their families, livestock, and possessions were gone! Some of his men were likely impatient with years of avoiding Saul and what seemed to be aimless living. And now this! They were ready to stone David, but David found strength in the Lord (ch. 30:6). What a contrast between Saul, who stubbornly disobeyed God, and David who trusted in and consistently turned to God! David sought the Lord’s instruction on what he should do next (vv. 7-8).
Despite extreme fatigue (they had just marched three days), David and his men set out in hot pursuit of the Amalekite raiding party. When they had gone about 15 miles, while crossing the Besor Ravine, 200 of the men could go no further. They were simply exhausted (v. 10). Four hundred continued on, and assisted by a slave who had become ill and was left behind by the Amalekites, (vv. 11-16), they located the enemy camp. The Amalekites were in drunken celebration, and caught off guard. David’s men were victorious over them, rescuing their families and retrieving their livestock and possessions (vv. 16-20).
On the return, the 200 men were waiting at the Besor Ravine where they had stayed (v. 21). Several of the men who had fought in the battle did not want to share the spoil with those who had remained behind (v. 22), however David led his men to understand that it was because of God’s intervention that the battle was won, and that all must share alike (v. 24).
We should not become dis-
couraged at life’s circumstances. Our Lord Jesus has won the battle for us. Some may endure the battle’s heat, while others seem to be resting. But in Christ, we are not on the winning side … we are on the side that has won! We all share His victory!