I Sam. 26:1-28:2; 29:1-30:31
Envy and jealousy are bitter emotions that eat a man’s soul like a cancer. Saul’s intellect told him that David was the future king and that he had done no wrong against him. His emotions kept goading him to destroy David.
Being informed that David was again hiding in the Wilderness of Ziph, Saul mobilized three thousand of his best soldiers to destroy his enemy. His army was commanded by Abner.
David, on the other hand chose his nephew, Abishai to accompany him by night into Saul’s camp. As Saul and his men were in a deep sleep from the Lord, David and Abishai came upon the king sleeping with his spear stuck in the ground near his head. As it had been earlier, David had another excellent opportunity to rid himself of his pursuer. Instead of killing “the Lord’s anointed,” he only took the spear and a bottle of water. He stated that, “The Lord shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go out to battle and perish.” As the spear was a symbol of power, David added further insult by taking it from Saul.
After moving to a safe distance from the camp, David called out to Abner and chided him for failing to protect the king. Saul again confessed his sin and promised safety if he would return. “Indeed, I have played the fool and erred exceedingly.” David returned the spear, but both men went separate ways.
The Philistines were long-time enemies of Israel. Their main stronghold was in the southwestern coastal area of Canaan. Chief Philistine cities were Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron, Gath and Gaza. In an ironic twist, David, his wives, his six hundred man army and their families fled to Achish, the king of the Philistine city of Gath to seek refuge from Saul. He asked for a place to dwell and received Ziklag which became a long-time possession of the kings of Judah.
David was a shrewd and deceptive individual. In order to cultivate favor with Achish and to destroy enemies of Israel, David and his men went out and raided various lands. Achish was led to believe that David was destroying cities in the southern areas of Israel. He completely destroyed men, women and children to prevent the truth from being revealed to the Philistine king.
In time, the Philistines gathered their armies together to go to war against Israel. David and his men were also mobilized for the battle. When they appeared at the end of the review with Achish, the princes of the Philistines were suspicious of their presence. Even with Achish defending the “defected” David, the Philistine princes ordered that David and his men be sent back to their homes in Ziklag.
When David and his six hundred men returned home after being rejected by the Philistine princes, there were no homes. The Amalekites had raided the southern portion of Judah and also Ziklag, the home of David and his men. They had burned the city and taken their wives, children and livestock as captives and spoil. Saul’s rejection by God was due to his refusal to completely destroy the Amalekites. David and his men were suffering their losses because of Saul’s inaction.
David and his men were deeply distressed at their losses, even to the point that his men turned against their leader and spoke of stoning him. God replied to David’s inquiry that he should pursue the Amalekites and that he would recover all that they had taken.
As David and his men pursued the Amalekites, two hundred of them were too tired to go farther than the Brook of Besor. They were left behind to care for the supplies while he and the other four hundred men moved forward. They found a fallen Egyptian, who had been a member of the Amalekite raiders. After they had cared for his needs, he led David and his men to them.
The ensuing battle lasted from early morning until evening. David and his men with the help of God destroyed all of the Amalekites except for four hundred men who escaped on camels. They recovered their families, livestock and the spoils from southern Judah. David returned the rightful portion of property back to the southern Judeans.
The two hundred men left behind received their just portion of the spoils over the objections of some of the four hundred men who had fought the battle. David pointed out that all of them had a responsibility—from guarding the supplies to actually waging battle and should share alike. Additionally, it was not by their efforts, but that God had delivered the Amalekites over to them.
There are various opportunities that man has today. Some may seem insignificant, but they are as important as those that may seem major. Let each of us serve God according to the abilities that we may possess.