Once again, the redemption of those who were taken from Ziklag happened on the third day (v.1), where David by the indication of the priest Abiathar and ephod (v.7) received command from the LORD to pursue the Amalekite band. David in his distress, in his weeping, is immediately seen as the weak and humble king-to-be – in contrast to Saul who has not wept nor has he truly inquired of the LORD except through a false mediator who attempted to raise Samuel from the dead. This is the Saul who has caused his men hunger. The Saul who has led people to war without inquiry from Samuel. The Saul whose kingdom was torn from him as the Father elects Christ to be the only true anointed One, He who weeps for His people (Isaiah 63:10) and would not move until the Father commands Him to move. So here, David equally is not first and foremost portrayed as a man of valour; and time and time again, he is portrayed as a man of vulnerability, a man who is not immediately chosen by Israel to be the redeemer between the nation and Goliath – a mere shepherd boy and the youngest of his family without the same weight or stature as Saul. And even in the midst of worthless men speaking of stoning him, David’s faith was continually strengthened in the LORD his God. Is this not like us? No – I’m not speaking as if we are like David. Rather, David’s worthless men are like us.
Are we not the missionaries who, upon disaster, weep and are greatly distressed only to turn on Christ and abuse Him for leading us thus far? Are we not the mobile church who, after deciding to follow Him as our leader, are led into regions of discomfort where we feel that what we endure is too much to manage? The Spirit at no stage indicates that our lesson is to learn to have the faith of David. Rather, the Spirit is telling us that David is our Christ, in whom we receive the blessings of resurrection and ascension after our deaths for it is His life of faithfulness which has brought all his brethren into the book of life, not our lives of faithfulness. If not for David strengthening himself in the LORD His God, the true king would have died by stoning and the captives of Ziklag would have forever remained slaves of the Amalekites. Yet, our Christ did not give up and once again elected Himself to be the redeemer despite being rejected not only by Israel, not only by the Philistines, but now rejected also by the mobile church of worthless men. David is truly at the bottom of the social rung, of the pit of life, and yet the glory of Christ did shine at its finest peak when he hung on the cross like a worthless worm (Psalm 22:6).
And in the midst of the pursuit of the persecutors, we meet an Egyptian slave to an Amalekite. It is here that we see how far Egypt has fallen into other nations’ hands as the nation has not been mentioned since Exodus (at least referred to over one hundred times as a proverb of a nation fallen by the hand of God since the book of Exodus) – and here, for the first time since the travels in the wilderness and Israel’s arrival at Canaan do we meet an Egyptian man. Yet, he is not a prince, nor a master; he is a slave to one of Israel’s enemies. Here, David treats the man hospitably (Deuteronomy 23:7) before asking him about his allegiance (v.12) as it appears that the Egyptian had been wandering in the open country, abandoned and without food for three days and three nights. Is this not what our LORD does for us as he revives us on the third day with true spiritual bread and the waters of the Holy Spirit? Us, who were God’s enemies? Us, who appeared to be the kings of our own world? Us, who in actuality was nothing but slaves and thrown to rot in the wilderness by the allegiances which we make outside of Christ? Yet, David’s love for the man is God’s love for us, His enemies, so that we may no longer betray our true Saviour just as David is this Egyptian’s saviour in the wilderness. For our sickness can only be healed by the true Physician (Luke 5:31), yet our false gods quickly abandon us as they have no true power of healing. Though this man may still call the Amalekite his master (v.15), it is clear that the Egyptian is very much willing to side with David and above all a God-fearing man.
Here, from v.16 onwards, we see another prophetic glimpse of Christ’s victory over Satan through the body of the church. Though two hundred stayed at the brook Besor (v.10), four hundred went on to defeat the Amalekites and reclaim all that was lost. This is but a shadow of the judgment day as some Amalekites have fled, just as some of the Nephilim remained even after the flood (Numbers 13:33, as Anakim), but the important message of chapter 30 is the reclamation of what was lost, and even more (as the Amalekites did not only pilfer and burn down Ziklag, but also the great spoil from the land of the Philistines (v.16)). It is under the headship of David that “nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken. David brought back” (v.19). How this would make the greatest sense in the context of our LORD Jesus Christ who was crucified by worthless men, revived the Gentiles on the third day by feeding us with spiritual bread and water and go on to defeat the enemies of God leading us once again to victory though we are the same people whom he should destroy as well. Indeed, these possessions are all given to us his mobile church, yet it is the flock and herds and livestock which are David’s spoil (v.20), for we the flock are His spoil and not anything which us worthless men can own.
In spite of David’s victory, much of the men who went out to fight against the Amalekites were still labeled as “wicked and worthless fellows” (v.22) – and though we, the still-wicked and still-worthless fellows worshipping under the banner of Christ are judgmental of those who had not gone out to reclaim the spoil which the church rightly owns, David speaks the truth behind one of the parables used in the gospels (Matthew 20). The spoils are not determined by the exact nature of our works – for it is God’s economy that he who fights and he who stays by the baggage are equally blessed: the economy of God’s mercy. Just as the small Israelite church had been preserved in the Old Testament (Romans 11), and just as the work of the cross had been prophesied and not yet fulfilled in the time before the incarnation, are these people who stood by the brook Besor denied the blessings of the cross because they have yet to progress into global missions as a theocratic nation? Furthermore, this abundant overflow of blessing is given not only to the fighting men and the tired men but also to the elders of Judah as a gift although David has long been an outcast of Israel – once again displaying David’s love for his enemies as a sign of David’s near-future enthronement as the king of Judah. Though David and his men had not been accepted in both lands claimed by Israel and the surrounding nations, His love for us is to lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4) as he inevitably ascends to become a shadow of the Lion of Judah (Hosea 5:14).