Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Amalekite Lesson. Thirtieth Chapter of 1 Samuel. David and his men leave behind Zilag, their base village, to go with the Philistine King Achish to battle Saul. (Achish had given refuge to David.) Achish's confederates reject David's help and Achish sends David and his men back home. When they arrive back in Zilag, they find the town destroyed by the Amalekites and their women, children, and flocks taken away.

After some weeping, gnashing of teeth, and talk among the men of stoning David, he leads them in pursuit of the Amalekites. They find them, and prepare to do battle, but by then 200 of David's men are so exhausted that only 400 can go with him on the attack. Nevertheless, the attack is brilliantly successful and every woman and child, beast and chattel is recovered and additional plunder as well. At the end of about 24 hours of battle, the scripture says that four hundred young, Amalekite men get away on camels. That's the same number of David's men going in. So the total Amalekite contingent must have been far larger. How could David have been so successful? I know the Lord is very much in this, but what data is there that could have indicated this "upset".

At our Bible study this morning, we concluded that prior to David's arrival the Amalekites had enjoyed too much success. When David's little army come up on them the Amalekite 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". They were too greedy. "Pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered".

I have seen negotiations where one side not only gets a bargain, but gets far more, to the great and even gloating satisfaction of everyone on that side. But those sorts of victories often turn against you. I think we need to be careful about our successes. We can seek too much, we can win too much, we can get bogged down by the spoils of our victories.

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