Introduction: David had just spent 16 months without God. During this time, he served the Philistines. God spared David from a terrible sin of attacking Saul’s army by turning the Philistine commanders against him. Yet, David would discover that there were consequences for his sins. He would need to hit rock bottom before finding spiritual renewal in God. From David’s example here, God reveals several lessons on spiritual renewal. These include: (1) repentance; (2) prayer; (3) obedience; (4) love; (5) faith; (6) forgiveness; and (7) restitution.
First, after David served the Philistines, he returned home to discover that the Amalekites had plundered his town and taken all his men’s families. Having hit rock bottom as a prodigal son, David repented and found God’s strength by turning to Him. From David’s example, God reveals that a believer finds His strength by turning to Him through repentance. Second, David inquired of God for guidance, and God directed him to chase after the Amalekites to save his men’s families. From David’s example, God reveals that a believer finds His guidance through prayer. Third, even though 200 of David’s 600 men were too tired to chase after the Amalekites, David chased after them in obedience with just 400 men. From David’s example, God reveals that a spiritually renewed believer obeys His Word. Fourth, David stopped his pursuit to give aid to a dying Egyptian who had participated in the attack on David’s village. From David’s example, God reveals that a spiritually renewed believer loves his or her enemies and helps strangers. Fifth, David attacked a far more numerous Amalekite army in faith, and God allowed him to prevail and recover more than he lost. From David’s example, God reveals that a spiritually renewed believer acts in faith by trusting Him. Sixth, over the objections of some of his 400 soldiers, David forgave the 200 who refused to fight and gave them an equal share of the spoils. From David’s example, God reveals that a spiritually renewed believer forgives others and shares with others. Finally, to restore his broken relationships with the 12 tribes after serving the Philistines for 16 months, David also sent the heads of each of the tribes gifts. From David’s example, God reveals that spiritually renewed believers restore those they have hurt.
The Amalekites plunder David’s town while he prepared to fight against the Jews. While David was in a place where he was not supposed to be preparing to fight against God’s people, his Amalekite enemies plundered his hometown and took all the men’s wives as slaves. “1 Then it happened when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had made a raid on the Negev and on Ziklag, and had overthrown Ziklag and burned it with fire; 2 and they took captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great, without killing anyone, and carried them off and went their way. 3 When David and his men came to the city, behold, it was burned with fire, and their wives and their sons and their daughters had been taken captive. 4 Then David and the people who were with him lifted their voices and wept until there was no strength in them to weep. 5 Now David’s two wives had been taken captive, Ahinoam the Jezreelites and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite. 6 Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” (1 Sam. 30:1-6). The Amalekites likely had spies who reported the absence of David and his 600 soldiers. It was never God’s plan for David to leave and prepare to fight the Jews. Because David acted without God’s guidance, He did not have God’s protection. Thus, the Amalekites seized the families of David’s 600 men and burned their village the moment David left it unprotected. David’s soldiers were further not prepared to chase after the Amalekites. They had just marched for three days from Aphek back to their home in Ziklag. Some commentators estimate that they would have traveled at a marathon pace of 25 miles per day. The men would have been hungry, exhausted, and physically unprepared for either their loss or chasing after the Amalekites.
Let God strengthen you during a trial1
A person will reap what he or she sows. For 16 months, David walked without God (1 Sam. 27:6-7). He lived as a lawless bandit raiding and murdering towns for his glory and not for God’s glory (1 Sam. 27:8-9). He then concealed the targets of his banditry from the Philistines through lies and murder (1 Sam. 27:10-12). The Amalekites showed more mercy than David by taking the women and children as slaves instead of murdering them as David had done. David tried to live alone without God, and he was now truly alone. Both Saul and the Philistine commanders rejected him. He lost his two wives (who symbolized his worldly lifestyle). Now, his own soldiers were ready to stone him for leaving their village unprotected. They rightly held him at least partially responsible for the loss of their wives and children. Being totally alone, David wept in sorrow. He reaped the seeds of his own worldly lifestyle. “According to what I have seen, those who plow iniquity and those who sow trouble harvest it.” (Job 4:8). “You have plowed wickedness, you have reaped injustice, you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your way, in your numerous warriors,” (Hos. 10:13). “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Gal. 6:7-8). Are you sowing seeds of the flesh or the Spirit in your walk?
God will sometimes let a wayward person to hit rock bottom to turn back to Him. David had cried out to God for help many times before when Saul pursued him without cause. Now, he cried because he was responsible for leaving all of the families unprotected while he pursued a foolish war against his own people on behalf of the Philistines. God had to bring Israel into the desert before it would listen to His kind words for her: “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her.” (Hos. 2:14). “Then indeed, He enticed you from the mouth of distress, instead of it, a broad place with no constraint; and that which was set on your table was full of fatness.” (Job 36:16). “Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.” (Ro. 1:24). “So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, to walk in their own devices.” (Ps. 81:12). The prodigal son had to lose everything and live with the unclean pigs in hunger before he realized his sins. “14 Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. 17 But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ (Lk. 15:14-19). If you have a child who is trapped in the yoke of sin, you can prolong their suffering and prevent them from turning to God for help if you enable their sins with the wrong kind of financial support.
Seek God’s strength in humility and He will strengthen you. In various psalms, David begged God to hear his prayers despite his many sins. “For the choir director; on stringed instruments. A Maskil of David. Give ear to my prayer, O God; and do not hide Yourself from my supplication.” (Ps. 55:1). “Do not hide Your face from me, do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation!” (Ps. 27:9). “A Psalm of David. O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your anger, nor chasten me in Your wrath.” (Ps. 6:1b). David also gave praise that God corrected his wayward ways without letting him die as a just punishment for his sins. “The LORD has disciplined me severely, but He has not given me over to death.” (Ps. 118:18). Out of mercy and grace, God pulled David away from his sins when his enemies were still close enough to recover the men’s lost wives and children. God also will strengthen you when you seek Him in humility. “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12). “When you are cast down, you will speak with confidence, and the humble person He will save.” (Job 22:29). “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” (Jam. 4:6). If you have sinned, you must first humbly repent so that your prayers will not be hindered (1 Jo. 1:9). He will then strengthen you.
Repent and God will strengthen you. Like David, all have sinned against God: “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God . . .” (Is. 59:2(a)). God has looked down from heaven and observed that not one person is holy and without sin: “[I]t is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.”’ (Rom. 3:10-11). “[T]here is no one who does good.” (Ps. 14:1; 53:1). “Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.” (Ps. 143:2). “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 Jo. 1:8). Thus, you must repent of your sins to be renewed.
David finds renewal by turning to God for guidance. Having hit rock bottom, David finally turned to God for guidance: “7 Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, ‘Please bring me the ephod.’ So Abiathar brought the ephod to David. 8 David inquired of the Lord, saying, ‘Shall I pursue this band? Shall I overtake them?’ And He said to him, ‘Pursue, for you will surely overtake them, and you will surely rescue all.’” (1 Sam. 30:7-8). God showed His mercy and grace by strengthening David and responding to his prayers. Because he had lived in sin for the past 16 months, God could have refused to hear his prayers as He had done with Saul (1 Sam. 28:6). In the Old Testament, God repeatedly warned that He will hide His face from a believer in open rebellion (Dt. 31:18; 32:19-20; Is. 1:15; 8:17; Ps. 66:18; Prov. 28:9). In the New Testament, God also warns that sin can hinder a believer’s prayers (1 Pet. 3:7; Jo. 9:31).
Seek God’s guidance and He will guide you on the right path. David’s 16-month hiatus from God began when he turned to himself for answers: “Then David said to himself, ‘Now I will perish one day by the hand of Saul.”’ (1 Sam. 27:1). Now, David corrected his wayward path by finally turning to God for direction (1 Sam. 30:7). David called upon the priest to bring his ephod, which carried the two stones called “Urim” and “Thummim” that the priests used to discern God’s will (Ex. 28:30; Lev. 8:8). David later thanked God’s Word as a light for his path: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps. 119:105). Today, if you diligently seek God’s will in prayer, He also promises to give you wisdom through the Holy Spirit: “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (Jo. 16:13). “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (Jam. 1:5). “Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.” (Ps. 51:6). “For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Prov. 2:6). Are you seeking God’s direction in all that you do?
David and four hundred of his men obeyed God’s command to pursue their enemy. Although tired and most likely hungry, David and 400 of his 600 men obeyed God’s command to chase after the Amalekites: “9 So David went, he and the six hundred men who were with him, and came to the brook Besor, where those left behind remained. 10 But David pursued, he and four hundred men, for two hundred who were too exhausted to cross the brook Besor remained behind.” (1 Sam. 30:9-10). A believer can always make excuses for refusing to follow God’s Word. Two hundred of the men felt that their tired and hungry state excused them from having to rescue their own families. Or, they might have doubted that David had spoken to God after they threatened him. This may have also been a test of David’s renewed faith. Yet, David and 400 of his men passed this test. They showed their faith as evidenced by their obedience to God’s Word.
Obedience will free you from bondage. The Amalekites had placed the families of David’s men into bondage. Amalek was the grandson of Esau (Gen. 36:12; 1 Chr. 1:36). God hated Esau’s descendants (Mal. 1:2-3), because they were symbolic of a life of the flesh and Satan’s evil reign on Earth. The Amalekites attacked the Jews approximately 400 years earlier when they had just escaped from Egypt (Ex. 17:8-11). They were a people of great warriors who lived as nomads in the deserts south of the Negev. They were such mighty warriors that they caused the 10 spies to believe that the Jews could not invade the Promised Land (Dt. 9:2). If the Amalekites symbolized the flesh, the Jews symbolized the promise. Like the Amalekites, Satan has placed your flesh at war with God’s Spirit: “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, promiscuity . . .” (Gal. 5:19; 1 Tim. 1:10). According to the Apostle Paul, you are a slave to whatever you serve: “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?” (Ro. 6:16; Gal. 4:7-9). In the end, you must pick that which you will serve: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.” (Matt. 6:24). If you choose the flesh, you are at war with the Spirit, “[T]he mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God . . .” (Rom. 8:7). Yet, although the battle is constant, God reveals that when you act through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, He will protect you from all types of evil: “Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm.” (Ps. 105:15). “Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” (Prov. 30:5). If you feel the flesh is attacking you and the enemy is tempting you to do evil, take refuge in Christ by relying upon His strength: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13). Are you serving two masters?
Obedience is also a sign of your love for Jesus. If you love Jesus, you will obey His commandments out of devotion: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (Jo. 14:15, 21; 15:10; 1 Jo. 5:3; 2 Jo. 1:6). Whether you follow His commandments out of devotion is also a test for whether you really know Him (1 Jo. 2:3). Jesus is the great “I AM” who authored the Ten Commandments (Jo. 8:58; Ex. 3:14). His Covenant was meant to protect your heart from its evil desires. Is your faith manifested by obedience?
Obedience to God’s Word also brings peace. When your faith produces obedience, Jesus gives you His peace: “for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” (1 Cor. 14:33). “But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.” (1 Cor. 14:40). “For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.” (Col. 2:5). If you are looking for His peace, will you obey His Word?
David and his men halt their pursuit to care for a near dead stranger. David and his men were in a hurry to free their captured families. Yet, they stopped to give add to a dying Egyptian: “11 Now they found an Egyptian in the field and brought him to David, and gave him bread and he ate, and they provided him water to drink. 12 They gave him a piece of fig cake and two clusters of raisins, and he ate; then his spirit revived. For he had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days and three nights. 13 David said to him, ‘To whom do you belong? And where are you from?’ And he said, ‘I am a young man of Egypt, a servant of an Amalekite; and my master left me behind when I fell sick three days ago. 14 We made a raid on the Negev of the Cherethites, and on that which belongs to Judah, and on the Negev of Caleb, and we burned Ziklag with fire.’ 15 Then David said to him, ‘Will you bring me down to this band?’ And he said, ‘Swear to me by God that you will not kill me or deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will bring you down to this band.’” (1 Sam. 30:11-15). When the Egyptian stated that “we” had raided the belongings of Judah, he admitted to participating in the attack on the Jews. The men mostly likely considered him their enemy. They most likely pleaded with David not to spend time caring for their enemy. They wanted to rescue their families. Yet, now that David was walking with God, he obeyed God’s calling to care for a stranger in need.
David shows kindness to a servant of his enemy2
Show love to your enemies and those in need. Based upon David’s experiences, his son Solomon later wrote: “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;” (Prov. 25:21). “He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered.” (Prov. 21:13). You were created for “good works.” (Eph. 2:10). Jesus reveals that these good works include showing love to your enemies: “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matt. 5:44; Lk. 6:27-28; Rom. 12:20). “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” (Matt. 25:40, 35). Conversely, Jesus warns: ‘“Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’” (Matt. 25:45). If you are not giving to the poor or your brothers or sisters in Christ who are in need, how much love and gratitude can you say you have for Jesus?
Be a David to a stranger in need. Believers are also told to show hospitality to strangers. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Heb. 13:1; Ro. 12:13). “having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work.” (1 Tim. 5:10). Like David, do you help strangers in need?
David attacks the larger Amalekite army and recovers all that his men lost. David acted in faith in response to God’s directive, and his small army of 400 men defeated a much larger Amalekite army during their celebrations: “16 When he had brought him down, behold, they were spread over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing because of all the great spoil that they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah. 17 David slaughtered them from the twilight until the evening of the next day; and not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men who rode on camels and fled. 18 So David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken, and rescued his two wives. 19 But nothing of theirs was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that they had taken for themselves; David brought it all back. 20 So David had captured all the sheep and the cattle which the people drove ahead of the other livestock, and they said, ‘This is David’s spoil.’” (1 Sam. 30:16-20). After turning back to God, David asked God for direction. God promised that he would prevail and recover all that he lost (1 Sam. 30:6-8). Even though 200 of his men deserted him, David trusted God in faith and God helped David’s men to prevail. God brought David’s men to the Amalekite camp at a time when they drank and celebrated. They were also “spread over all the land,” instead of being grouped into a defensive formation. The Amalekites assumed that the Jews and the Philistines were far away fighting each other. David attacked them at dusk when most of the Amalekite men could have been hung over or sleeping. Despite their much larger numbers, they were no match for David’s men. The final reference to “David’s spoil” means that God blessed David with more than he lost.
David defeats the Amalekites and frees his captured people3
Be faithful to God, and He will also grant you victory. When the Jews acted in faith like David and trusted in God’s promises, He defeated their enemies: “I will send My terror ahead of you, and throw into confusion all the people among whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you.” (Ex. 23:27). ‘“This day I will begin to put the dread and fear of you upon the peoples everywhere under the heavens, who, when they hear the report of you, will tremble and be in anguish because of you.’” (Dt. 2:25). “I will send an angel before you and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite.” (Ex. 33:2). God will also faithfully keep His promises to you: “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” (2 Thess. 3:3). “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” (1 Thess. 5:24). “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (2 Tim. 4:18). God wants you to act in faith because He is faithful to act to save you: “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Tim. 6:12).
Show no mercy to the desires of the flesh. After giving the Jews victory when the Amalekites first attacked them, God promised to wage an unending war against them (Ex. 17:14-16). Before his death, Moses advised that they would be the instrument of God’s judgment against the Amalekites after they were settled in the Promised Land (Dt. 25:17-19). Through Balaam, God also warned of the destruction of the Amalekites (Nu. 24:20). To fulfill His Word, God first ordered Saul to act as His avenger against the Amalekites (1 Sam 15:3, 18). He then judged Saul when he refused to obey God’s command (1 Sam. 15:13-23). Had Saul faithfully executed God’s judgment, this attack against David and his men never would have happened. Thus, in addition to acting in faith to recover what he and his men lost, David also helped to fulfill God’s judgment against the Amalekites when he attacked them. Just as David made no provision for the people of the flesh, you also should make no provision for the things of the flesh in your life. “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” (Ro. 13:14). Like David, will you root out things of the flesh in your life?
David forgave the men who refused to fight and shared the spoil with them. David faced another test when the 400 men refused to share their spoils with the 200 slothful men who refused to fight. Yet, David passed this test when he forgave the 200 men and allowed them to share in the spoils of war: “21 When David came to the two hundred men who were too exhausted to follow David, who had also been left at the brook Besor, and they went out to meet David and to meet the people who were with him, then David approached the people and greeted them. 22 Then all the wicked and worthless men among those who went with David said, ‘Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except to every man his wife and his children, that they may lead them away and depart.’ 23 Then David said, ‘You must not do so, my brothers, with what the Lord has given us, who has kept us and delivered into our hand the band that came against us. 24 And who will listen to you in this matter? For as his share is who goes down to the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage; they shall share alike.’ 25 So it has been from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel to this day.” (1 Sam. 30:21-25). David was able to resist the calls for retribution because he knew that God had made them victorious. What they received belonged to God. David also knew that he had no right to judge the 200 men for being slothful. He had also lived a slothful life for the last 16 months.
Forgive those who harm you so that God can forgive you. David’s men should have forgiven their slothful brothers. “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matt. 6:14-15; 18:32-35). “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.” (Mk. 11:26). If someone repeatedly sins against you, Jesus says that you must liberally forgive that person “up to seventy times seven” times (Matt. 18:22). Is there anyone you need to forgive?
The generosity of the early Church. When building the Tabernacle, the Jews gave generously (Ex. 36:3-4). They knew that God gave them everything they had when He freed them from captivity (Ex. 12:35-36). David was also generous because he knew that everything was a gift from God. The early church also gave generously to others in need because they also knew that their belongings came from God: “And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. 34 For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35 and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.” (Acts 4:32-35). The early church of Macedonia also received praise for its generosity (2 Cor. 8:1-5). The generosity of David and the early Church toward the slothful carry lessons for every believer.
Gratefully give from the things God has given you. Every good and perfect thing in your life comes from above, even if someone in the world hands it to you: “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (Jam. 1:17). God commands each believer to give back from the things that He has given. He in turn promises to bless you as a steward with more gifts (Mal. 3:8-10). Yet, He only wants you to give out of gratitude, not obligation (Ex. 36:2-7; 2 Cor. 9:6, 8-14). Satan will also seek to cause you to sin by keeping God’s tithes. Are you giving to others from what God has given you?
Don’t create divisions within the body of Christ. The men who wanted to prevent the 200 men from sharing in the spoils of war are like the people who sow divisions within the body of Christ. Unless someone is teaching a false doctrine, believers are called upon to work together in harmony to seize God’s blessings. “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;” (1 Pet. 3:8). “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:2-3, 13; Col. 3:14). Are you working in harmony with others in your church to serve God?
David gives gifts of reconciliation to his estranged brothers and sisters in Israel. After restoring the what he and his men lost, David gave gifts to restore the trust that he had lost amongst the Jewish elders in Israel: “26 Now when David came to Ziklag, he sent some of the spoil to the elders of Judah, to his friends, saying, ‘Behold, a gift for you from the spoil of the enemies of the Lord: 27 to those who were in Bethel, and to those who were in Ramoth of the Negev, and to those who were in Jattir, 28 and to those who were in Aroer, and to those who were in Siphmoth, and to those who were in Eshtemoa, 29 and to those who were in Racal, and to those who were in the cities of the Jerahmeelites, and to those who were in the cities of the Kenites, 30 and to those who were in Hormah, and to those who were in Bor-ashan, and to those who were in Athach, 31 and to those who were in Hebron, and to all the places where David himself and his men were accustomed to go.’” (1 Sam. 30:26-31). David was once a hero amongst the Jews for defeating Goliath and for leading the Jews to multiple victories against the Philistines. Yet, he had spent the last 16 months serving the Philistines. The fact that his men were initially numbered with the Philistines in the pending war against King Saul would have also been known to the Jews. Thus, David gave gifts to reconcile with those who no longer trusted him. Because the Amalekites plundered many other towns besides David’s town, David had spoils to share throughout Israel. The elders would later remember these gifts after Saul and his sons died and it came time for Israel to select a new king to lead it.
Restore others you have harmed. God’s law required the Jews to restore their victims when they had caused harm to one another (Lev. 6:1-5; Ex. 22:4; 2 Sam. 12:6). Thankfully, Jesus became your sacrifice before God for the harm you cause against others (Is. 53:10-11). When you confess your wrongs, Jesus will forgive you (1 Jo. 1:9). Yet, He did not relieve you of your obligation to restore your victims. For example, after Zaccheus accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, he promised to pay restitution four times above the amount that he had defrauded from others in the past: “Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.’” (Lk. 19:8). This suggests that Zaccheus had defrauded others in the past without any remorse (2 Sam. 12:6). Jesus did not correct Zaccheus or say that this was unnecessary. Thus, believers should follow the example of Zaccheus and David in restoring others. If you fail to restore those whom you hurt, what kind of a witness for Christ are you?
God will not accept your offerings unless you first restore your victims. God commands that a person pay restitution “on the day he presents his guilt offering.” (Lev. 6:6). Jesus later clarified that you must restore your victims before you seek God’s forgiveness: “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” (Matt. 5:23-24). Is there anyone that you have wronged or hurt who needs to be restored?
Like David, Jesus gave gifts of peace and reconciliation to you. David later wrote prophetically of the Messiah who would share gifts as he had done: “You have ascended on high, . . . You have received gifts among men, even among the rebellious also, . . .” (Ps. 66:18). Jesus later fulfilled this promise: “Therefore it says, ‘When He ascended on high, . . . He gave gifts to men.” (Eph. 4:8). Although David was a sinner, one commentator observes that his actions here foreshadowed Jesus: “David is a remarkable picture of Jesus in this chapter. Note these five points of association: “We are like David’s men, David is like Jesus; We are like the weary ones left behind, David is like Jesus; We are like the Egyptian slave, David is like Jesus; We are like the spoil David recovered, David is like Jesus; We are like the elders of Judah, and David is like Jesus.” (David Guzik on 1 Sam. 30).4 Have you given thanks for Jesus’ many undeserved gifts?