Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, and David inquired of the Lord , “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?” “Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.” David and the six hundred men with him came to the Besor Valley, where some stayed behind. Two hundred of them were too exhausted to cross the valley, but David and the other four hundred continued the pursuit. They found an Egyptian in a field and brought him to David. They gave him water to drink and food to eat— part of a cake of pressed figs and two cakes of raisins. He ate and was revived, for he had not eaten any food or drunk any water for three days and three nights. David asked him, “Who do you belong to? Where do you come from?” He said, “I am an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite. My master abandoned me when I became ill three days ago. We raided the Negev of the Kerethites, some territory belonging to Judah and the Negev of Caleb. And we burned Ziklag.” David asked him, “Can you lead me down to this raiding party?” He answered, “Swear to me before God that you will not kill me or hand me over to my master, and I will take you down to them.” He led David down, and there they were, scattered over the countryside, eating, drinking and reveling because of the great amount of plunder they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from Judah. David fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day, and none of them got away, except four hundred young men who rode off on camels and fled. David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back. He took all the flocks and herds, and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock, saying, “This is David’s plunder.” Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow him and who were left behind at the Besor Valley. They came out to meet David and the men with him. As David and his men approached, he asked them how they were. But all the evil men and troublemakers among David’s followers said, “Because they did not go out with us, we will not share with them the plunder we recovered. However, each man may take his wife and children and go.” David replied, “No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the Lord has given us. He has protected us and delivered into our hands the raiding party that came against us. Who will listen to what you say? The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.” David made this a statute and ordinance for Israel from that day to this. – 1 Samuel 30:7-25
Living at this time in history sounds like a perpetual action movie…or perhaps a Sergio Leone Western 🙂 The Amalekites burn David’s village, capture his family, and pretty much take everything. David and 600 of his men are in hot pursuit of the Amalekites, kind of like Mad Max chasing after the bad dudes who stole his family. David loses the Amalekites in the desert. About 200 of his men are exhausted and decide to stop pursuing the Amalekites. This is one of the oddest parts of this story. It seems to me that if my family were in the hands of an evil people I would go to the ends of the earth to rescue them. Why did these 200 men lose heart and stop? I suspect they lost hope. They despaired of ever seeing their families again. They did not know that God had their back.
David and the 400 men who did not lose hope ventured on into the desert. I am sure they were hot, sweaty, and discouraged. God provided them a “hidden well“. They find a lost Egyptian dying of hunger and thirst that was with the Amalekites when they sacked David’s village, Ziklag. David asked him a very important question “Who do you belong to?” This scene reminds me of an epic scene from one of my favorite westerns…The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
Clint Eastwood’s character Joe, or “Blondy”, is being slowing killed by thirst in the desert by his former partner in crime, Tuco (Eli Wallach). The two men had a great thing going…Eastwood would turn Tuco in for reward money then rescue him at the last minute from hanging by shooting the rope and they would split the money. The arrival of the sadistic character Sentenza (Lee Van Cleef), and a “missed” shot make Tuco and Blondy enemies. Blondy leaves Tuco to die in the desert. Tuco somehow makes it to town and survives…he really hates Blondy and when he finds him he wants retribution…thus the forced march through the desert.
As Tuco drives Blondy through the desert they come upon a union soldier on the edge of death who tells Tuco about $20,000 in gold buried in a cemetery. The dying man refuses to tell Tuco which grave contains the treasure until he gives him some water. While Tuco is fetching the water blondy somehow drags himself over to the dying man, and in his dying breath, the man tells Blondy which grave contains the treasure. Tuco becomes Blondy’s best friend and attempts to nurse him back to health so he can learn the location of the treasure. They embark on an epic journey to get the treasure together as neither has enough information alone to find the treasure…. they need each other.
David and the Egyptian also need each other. David needs the information the Egyptian can give him and the Egyptian needs both the water David provides and the grace David extends not to kill him. David is the “good”, the Amalekites are the “bad”, and some of David’s men are ugly. David’s men show their ugliness when they refuse to share in the plunder with the 200 men who stayed behind. David extends grace to these men who stayed behind.
Those of us who belong to God – those who accept God’s ownership, must not lose hope. We need to continue the journey, seeking God at the center, even when we seem to be stuck in the desert with no hope. God showed up for the Egyptian dying of thirst in the desert, for David and his 400 intrepid men, for the 200 men who did not pursue the Amalekites, and He shows up for all of us who faithfully follow Him.
Prayer: God help us not to lose hope, even when things seem bleak. You know where the treasure is, and have agreed to lead us there.