Who will listen to your proposal? The share of the one who went to battle will match the share of the one who stayed with the supplies. They will share alike."
1 Samuel 30:21-31. (THE BROOK BESOR, ZIKLAG.)
1. Considerate sympathy with the faint and weary who had been disabled from taking an active part in the conflict. "He saluted them" (ver. 21). As he had not previously urged them beyond their strength, so now he exhibited a kindly interest in them, and a marked respect toward them. His heart was not lifted up by success. They had "done what they could," and formed part of his following. "They also serve who only stand and wait."
2. Strenuous resistance to the arrogant, selfish, and unjust procedure of some of his followers (ver. 22). "Rough, wild men were many among them, equally depressed in the day of adversity, and recklessly elated and insolent in prosperity. Nor is it merely the discipline which David knew how to maintain in such a band that shows us 'the skilfulness of his hands' in guiding them, but the gentleness with which he dealt with them, and above all the earnest piety with which he knew how to tame their wild passions, prove the spiritual 'integrity' or 'perfectness of his heart'" (Edersheim). The spirit which these "wicked and worthless men" displayed is sometimes found even in the Church of Christ, and requires to be met with firm and uncompromising opposition (1 Peter 5:9).
3. Devout recognition of the hand of God, in bestowing whatever good is possessed, preserving from harm, and delivering from dangerous adversaries. "Ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that which the Lord hath given us," etc. (ver. 23). "Man could not boast of his own merit in obtaining these possessions" (Ewald). They were a gift of God, and should be used for his honour and the good of all. There is a higher law than that of self-interest. Men are only "stewards" (not absolute owners) of property, ability, time, influence, etc., and as such it behove, them to "be found faithful." "Freely ye have received, freely give."
4. Equitable distribution. "And who will hearken unto you in this matter?" etc. (vers. 24, 25). The course proposed was as contrary to the common convictions of men concerning what is reasonable and just as to the benevolent purpose of God. "The equity of this law appears from hence - that by common consent these 200 men were left behind to look after the baggage; were part of the same body of men, linked together in the same common society; hindered by mere weariness from going to fight, which otherwise they would have done; their will was accepted for the deed; and they were in the same common danger, for if the 400 had been routed their enemies would have soon cut them off" (Patrick). "The members should have the same care one for another" (1 Corinthians 12:25).
5. Grateful acknowledgment of friendly aid during his "wanderings in the wilderness." "He sent of the spoil unto the elders of Judah, his friends," etc. (vers. 26-31). They had suffered from Amalekite raids, but it was not to make restitution for their losses so much as to testify his gratitude and strengthen their attachment. His victory enabled him to display a princely munificence. It is a remarkable proof of the grateful nature of David, and his fidelity to his early friendships, as well as a curious instance of undesigned coincidence, that we find among those employed by David in offices of trust in the height of his power so many inhabitants of those obscure places where he found friends in the days of his early difficulties" ('Sp. Com.').
6. Commendable policy - wise, generous, patriotic, and religious. "Behold a present" (blessing, gift) "for you of the spoil of the enemies of Jehovah." The elders of Judah and others looked to him as their future theocratic ruler. He himself felt that the time of patient waiting was nearly gone, and the time of active effort for the fulfilment of the Divine purpose concerning him well nigh come, if, indeed, the tidings of the death of Saul had not already reached him. He also foresaw that he must look for his chief support in his own tribe, and adopted the best method of securing it. "Piety without policy is too simple to be safe; policy without piety is too subtle to be good." "This was already a royal act in vivid anticipation of his impending accession to the throne. Already the crown of Israel was unmistakably though dimly visible above his head" (Krummacher). "Whilst Saul's star sinks in the north, the star of David rises in the south, and there begins the long line of fulfilments of the prophecy concerning the Star that should come out of Jacob" (Numbers 24:17) (Erdmann). - D.
And David came to the two hundred men which were so faint that they could not follow.I. I shall begin by saying, first, that FAINT ONES OCCUR EVEN IN THE ARMY OF OUR KING. We have among us soldiers whose faith is real, and whose love is burning; and yet, for all that, just now their strength is weakened in the way, and they am so depressed in spirit, that they are obliged to stop behind with the baggage.
1. Possibly some of these weary ones had grown faint because they had been a good deal perplexed. David had so wrongfully entangled himself with the Philistine king, that he felt bound to go with Achish to fight against Israel. They were perplexed with their leader's movements. I do not know whether you agree with me, but I find that half-an-hour's perplexity takes more out of a man than a month's labour.
2. Perhaps, also, the pace was killing to these men. They made forced marches for three days from the city of Achish to Ziklag. To us there may come multiplied labours, and we faint because our strength is small.
3. Worst of all, their grief came in just then. Their wives were gone. Although, as it turned out, they were neither killed nor otherwise harmed; yet they could not tell this, and they feared the worse.
4. Perhaps, also, the force of the torrent was too much for them. In all probability the brook Besor was only a hollow place, which in ordinary times was almost dry; but in a season of great rain it filled suddenly with a rushing muddy stream, against which only strong men could stand. These men might have kept on upon dry land, but the current was too fierce for them, and they feared that it would carry them off their feet and drown them. Therefore, David gave them leave to stop there and guard the stuff.
5. Yet these fainting ones were, after all, in David's army. Their names were in their Captain's Register as much as the names of the strong.
II. THESE FAINTING ONES REJOICE TO SEE THEIR LEADER RETURN.
1. David saluted the stay-at-homes. Our King's salutations are wonderful for their heartiness. He uses no empty compliments nor vain words. Every syllable from His lips is a benediction. Every glance of His eye is an inspiration.
2. David's courtesy was as free as it was true. When Christ comes into a company his presence makes a heavenly difference. Have you never seen an assembly listening to an orator, all unmoved and stolid? Suddenly the Holy Ghost hast fallen on the speaker, and the king himself has been visibly set forth among them in the midst of the assembly, and all have felt as if they could leap to their feet and cry, "Hallelujah, hallelujah!" Then hearts beat fast, and souls leap high; for where Jesus is found his presence fills the place with delight.
III. FAINT ONES HAVE THEIR LEADER FOR THEIR ADVOCATE.
1. First, do you notice, he pleads their unity? The followers of the son of Jesse are one and inseparable. David said, "Ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that which the Lord hath given us, who hath preserved us." "We are all one," says David. "God has given the spoil, not to you alone, but to us all. We are all one company of brothers." The unity of saints is the consolation of the feeble. One life is ours, one love is ours, one heaven shall be ours in our one Saviour.
2. David further pleaded free grace, for be said to them, "Ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that which the Lord hath given us." The gift of God is eternal life. Deny not to anyone of your brethren any comfort of the covenant of grace.
3. Then he pleaded their needfulness. He said, "These men abided by the stuff." No army fights well when its camp is unguarded. The kind of service which seems most commonplace among men is often the most precious unto God. Therefore, as for those who cannot come into the front places of warfare, deny them not seats of honour, since, after all, they may be doing the greater good. Remember the statute, "They shall part alike."
4. Notice that David adds to his pleading a statute. He makes a statute for those who are forced to stay at home because they are faint. Blessed be the name of our Lord Jesus, He is always looking to the interests of those who have nobody else to care for them! Some of God's people are illiterate, and they have but tittle native talent. Some dear servants of God seem always to be defeated. They seem sent to a people whose hearts are made gross and their ears dull of hearing. Some saints are constitutionally depressed and sad; they are like certain lovely ferns, which grow best under a constant drip. Well, well, the Lord will gather these beautiful ferns of the shade as well as the roses of the sun; they shall share His notice as much as the blazing sunflowers and the saddest shall rejoice with the gladdest. If lawfully detained from the field of active labour this statute stands fast forever, for you as well as for others: "As his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike."
IV. NOW, FAINT ONES FIND JESUS TO BE THEIR GOOD LORD IN EVERY WAY.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
1. Oh, what consolation there is there for all people who do unappreciated work! Here is a great merchant philanthropist; he is as good and generous as he is affluent; you know his name — do you know the name of his confidential clerk? — the man on whose fidelity that fortune was built up, so that he could accumulate his vast wealth and then generously distribute it? Oh, no, you don't know the name of the confidential clerk. Is he to get no reward? I tell you that in the eternal world the merchant prince, who distributed his millions will get no more reward than the confidential clerk. "As his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff." You know the names, I suppose, of the great presidents of railroads. Do you know the names of the brakeman, of the engineer, on whose wrist last night 300 lives hung; of the switchman, who, moving the switch three or four inches that way, and the whole train goes through in peace and families reach their homes in safety? A good many years ago a Christian woman was seen every eventide going along by the edge of the woods. She had a large family, and her neighbours said, "How can this woman, with all her cares and anxieties, waste her time going along the edge of the wood at eventide?" They did not find out until after her death why she went. She went there to pray for her household, and one evening, while there, she wrote that beautiful hymn sung in all our churches in America, and, I have no doubt, sung in your churches: —
I love to steal awhile away
From every cumbering care,
And spend the hours of setting day
In humble grateful prayer.
No minister of religion standing in European or American pulpit today giving out that hymn, will have more reward than that woman received for writing it.
2. There is great consolation in the subject for all those who used to be at the front in great enterprises of benevolence and religion. Why, when a subscription paper came round their name was at the top for a good big sum. When a revival came they would pray all night with the anxious. They were strong, healthy, affluent. But not now. Their fortune has collapsed, their health has gone, they are clear discouraged; they do not see how they can help God's work any more. Nay; look at those 200 men by the brook Besor. Just shove back the sleeve and show how the muscles were twisted in the battle. Just pull aside the turban and see the scar where the battleaxe struck. Just pull aside the coat a little and see where the spear went in. They got just as much reward as those who went to the front, and you who were at the front in the old days had the health, the muscle, the high spirits for all that kind of work. God has not forgotten you.
3. What comfort this in for the aged! What have you got to do? Only to wait. Your reward will come. There is great consolation in this for all the aged ministers. I know some of them are preaching the Gospel. A man cannot preach the Gospel for fifty years without showing it in an illuminated countenance. Oh! there has got to be a readjustment of coronets; people who have no coronet in this world to be crowned; people who have great honours in this world to lose their coronet. Oh, there has got, to be a redistribution of coronets! Shall not the child have a crown? the father a crown? the mother a crown? And all ye who are doing unappreciated work the day of your reward is coming.
(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.).
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