In 1 Samuel 30, David and his men returned to their hometown of Ziklag to discover the Amalekites had attacked and burned it. The wives and children of David and his men were gone, taken captive by the Amalekite raiding party. With their loved ones missing and their houses destroyed, David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. David’s fighters were so angry and embittered that they talked of stoning him.
In the midst of these horrific circumstances, “David found strength in the Lord his God” (vs 6). After inquiring of the Lord about whether or not to pursue those who had burned the city and taken all of the women, children, and livestock, David and 400 of his men pursued that raiding party of Amalekites. But the text makes it clear that 200 of David’s men stayed behind.
Soon, the 400 returned with abundant plunder, announcing that not one wife, not one child had been lost. All had been miraculously recovered. It was then that troublemakers among David’s men said, “Because they (the 200) did not go out with us, we will not share with them the plunder we recovered” (vs 22).
In response, David put forward a statute for Israel that has stood through many generations: “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” (vs 24). While this felt counter-intuitive, even unfair to the men who had risked everything to take back what the Amalekites had stolen, it was a reflection of God’s heart.
Today, there are missionaries who go to distant places and peoples representing Christ. When a person repents and puts their faith in Christ or a new worshiping group is established, who gets the reward? First and foremost, this is for God’s honor, not for the glory of anyone else. When it comes to God-given rewards, those who stand behind that missionary with prayer, giving, and encouragement are just as worthy to receive eternal rewards for what’s accomplished as is the missionary.
This is one of the many lessons from this amazing story in 1 Samuel 31. Being one of the ones who serves as a homeland missionary, to help support the work of OMS around the world, I’m grateful for this centuries-old statute about shared rewards!