1 Samuel 30:16-31 The Purpose of Wealth is Not to Hoard It, But to Share It
1 Samuel 30:16-31
16 So he led David to them, and they found the Amalekites spread out across the fields, eating and drinking and dancing with joy because of the vast amount of plunder they had taken from the Philistines and the land of Judah. 17 David and his men rushed in among them and slaughtered them throughout that night and the entire next day until evening. None of the Amalekites escaped except 400 young men who fled on camels. 18 David got back everything the Amalekites had taken, and he rescued his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing: small or great, son or daughter, nor anything else that had been taken. David brought everything back. 20 He also recovered all the flocks and herds, and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock. “This plunder belongs to David!” they said.
21 Then David returned to the brook Besor and met up with the 200 men who had been left behind because they were too exhausted to go with him. They went out to meet David and his men, and David greeted them joyfully. 22 But some evil troublemakers among David’s men said, “They didn’t go with us, so they can’t have any of the plunder we recovered. Give them their wives and children, and tell them to be gone.”
23 But David said, “No, my brothers! Don’t be selfish with what the LORD has given us. He has kept us safe and helped us defeat the band of raiders that attacked us. 24 Who will listen when you talk like this? We share and share alike- those who go to battle and those who guard the equipment.” 25 From then on David made this a decree and regulation for Israel, and it is still followed today.
26 When he arrived at Ziklag, David sent part of the plunder to the elders of Judah, who were his friends. “Here is a present for you, taken from the LORD’s enemies,” he said.
27 The gifts were sent to the people of the following towns David had visited: Bethel, Ramoth-negev, Jattir, 28 Aroer, Siphmoth, Eshtemoa, 29 Racal, the towns of the Jerahmeelites, the towns of the Kenites, 30 Hormah, Bor-ashan, Athach, 31 Hebron, and all the other places David and his men had visited.
Samuel’s denunciation of Saul’s irresolute treatment of the Amalekites at Endor coincides with David’s expeditious handling of the crisis involving the Amalekites, which confronted him at Ziklag. By David’s strength of character and resolve, he shows himself fit to rule Israel. With the prospective of being king, David lays down an ordinance concerning the sharing of wealth, which enable the Israelites to enjoy the fruits of their labor as a people. Today’s passage teaches us to enjoy wealth as a gift of God, not to hoard but to share with those who have need.
They found the Amalekites spread out across the fields, eating and drinking and dancing with joy – The Egyptian slave leads David back to his master, who were having the time of their lives because of the vast amount of plunder they had taken from the Philistines and the land of Judah. In the thick of their drunken revelry and unaware of the approaching men, David slaughters the Amalekites with a vengeance. 400 men who had their city razed and loved ones recently taken butchered the raiders throughout that night and the entire next day until evening. Except for the 400 Amalekites that escaped on camels, everything that was lost is recovered: Nothing was missing: small or great, son or daughter, nor anything else that had been taken. David brought everything back. The plunder that they took from the Amalekites are put into a central pool awaiting instructions as to how it will be distributed: “This plunder belongs to David!”
They didn’t go with us, so they can’t have any of the plunder we recovered – David and his men return to the rendezvous point at brook Besor. The 200 men who remained behind are obviously overjoyed at the returning of their loved ones. David’s magnanimous countenance greets those who remained behind stands in contrast with some of the evil troublemakers among him who insist that the non-combatants be deprived of their share of the plunder all together. However, David insists that all men share and share alike – those who go to battle and those who guard the equipment. The premise of David’s decision: it is God who has given them victory over the raiders, who has kept them safe and gave them the plunder. The second reason: both the 200 and the 400 men did their part that contributed to the day’s victory. Hence, the share of the non-combatants who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as combatants who went down to the battle. David established this principle concerning the sharing of wealth as an everlasting ordinance in Israel.
Here is a present for you, taken from the LORD’s enemies – Perhaps, David’s diplomatic masterstroke as a statesman is the sharing of the plunder with his other countrymen of Judah. As a skilled diplomat, he wins the hearts of the elders of Judah by his generous gesture. And when the time comes for him to be crowned at Hebron he will no doubt have their overwhelming support.
- Never leave loose ends untied or mistakes unrectified. The Amalekite master left his sick Egyptian slave behind because he is too burdensome to be cared for only to find his abandoned slave return with vengeance from those they raided. The abandoning of slaves once they’re incapacitated is considered as inconsequential and a convenient way to dispose of them. However, this cruel and ruthless practice has left for the Amalekites an open door that leads to their own destruction. If we leave promises undelivered, businesses unfinished, responsibilities unfulfilled, or mistakes unrectified, they will one day return demanding retributive action. We think some problems may go unnoticed and will eventually disappear, but the God of righteousness will demand justice. Therefore, we must endeavor for each day in the right spirit to deliver what we have promised, to fulfill our responsibilities, to clarify our mistakes and to make right what is wrong. In that right spirit, we will be ensured of a sound sleep. The Psalmist says,
Offer sacrifices in the right spirit, and trust the LORD, … In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe. Psalm 4:5,8
- The gift of God is the divine enablement that allows us to enjoy the rewards of our labor. Money does not give us joy per se, but it is the divine ability to enjoy it, which is the essence. Many are wealthy but they could not enjoy it for various reasons – health and relationship issues, busyness, anxiety, and greed etc. Still many could not enjoy their fruit because they are preoccupied with how others have gotten more; such are perpetually complaining how society has been unjust towards them. Even if I possess little, but if God gives me the power to enjoy it, I am considered much better off than those who could not enjoy despite possessing much.
Some of David’s men do not want to share the plunder with those who did not join them in battle. Their selfishness speaks of their misapprehension concerning reward and the gift of God, which is the ability to enjoy the reward. The act of sharing the reward with the non-combatants quickens their spirit enabling them to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Hence, for a person who does not share, he deprives himself the gift of God, which is the ability to enjoy. Ecclesiastes 5:19-20 say,
“And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.”
Therefore, in order to receive the gift of God and to enjoy the fruits of labor, we must endeavor to share with those who are in need and be contented with what we have. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35. And God will keep us so occupied with enjoying the abundant life that we have no time to brood over past injustices.
- Do you live each day purposefully, carefully considering what you should do and how you should spend your time? Or do you rush through it choosing to do those things that you like and procrastinating on those things you loath? Those who rush through their day tend to leave many loose ends untied, responsibilities unfulfilled, promises undelivered and mistakes unrectified.
- Are you more concerned about how little the poor had or how little you have been rewarded? If you endeavor to discover how little the poor had to get by, your heart may stir within you to complain less and to do what you can to help them. And you will discover therein lies the gift of God.
Dear Lord, help me to live purposefully and righteously every day being careful to leave no responsibilities unfulfilled, no promises undelivered, no mistakes unrectified and no businesses unfinished. Open my eyes to see how little the poor had to get by, and stir within my heart to share with them the fruits of my labor. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.