Staying By The Stuff

Bible Book: 1 Samuel  30 : 24
Subject: Faithfulness
Introduction

As I realized this week that we would have a number of people out today because of vacation and because of sickness and because of various other things, I knew that I would need a message this morning – not for those who are not here, but for those who are. The more I meditated and sought to know the mind of God for this hour, the more I was drawn to the statement in our text regarding those who tarried or stayed “by the stuff.” But then, the more I studied this text and its context the more I realized that this passage doesn’t promote these men exclusively, but there are three groups of individuals that comprised David’s army here in 1 Samuel chapter 30.

I started to entitle my message this morning, “The Players, The Stayers, And The Nay Sayers.” I settled on the fact, though, that these three groups teach us, as a church, a valuable lesson. They teach us “How To Respond To Losses And Gains.” And that’s what I want to preach on. “How To Respond To Losses And Gains.”

One of the most successful men that I know anything about lost a job at the age of 23. When he was 24, he failed in a business venture. When he was only 26 years old, the girl he loved died tragically. At age 27 he had a nervous breakdown. Over the next twenty years, on at least seven separate occasions, he failed to get positions and jobs that he sought after. Of course there were some successes and joys during those years. Later in life, he experienced the joy of children being born into his home, but even this was taken from him when his eleven-year-old son died, when he was 53 years old. Through all of the heartaches, and sorrows, and failures he responded with perseverance and determination; and when he was 51, he was elected the 16th president of the United States. His name of course is Abraham Lincoln.

(Information taken from a chart compiled by Lucas Morel using the chronology in Selected Speeches and Writings/Lincoln by Don E. Fehrenbacher, ed., 1992.) 

Sometimes, it’s not the losses and failures that make the person what they are. It’s how they respond to the losses and failures that makes the person what they are.

In order to understand the response of these three groups, we first need to realize what they were responding to.

I. There Has Been An Incursion … Of David And His Army Into Philistia

1 Samuel 27:1-7

2. There Has Been An Interruption … Of David And His Army With Philistia

1 Samuel 29:1-11

3. There Has Been An Invasion … Of David’s Dwelling In Philistia (Ziklag)

1 Samuel 30:1-3

Now let’s notice these three groups and their various responses.

I. Notice Those Who Were Stepping Towards Their War

(This Is A Going Group)

(1 Samuel 30:9) So David went, he and the six hundred men that were with him, and came to the brook Besor, where those that were left behind stayed.

A. Consider How They Behaved Over The Losses

(1 Samuel 30:4) Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.

1. They Beheld The Situation As Witnesses

(1 Samuel 30:3) So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives.

Warren Wiersbe said…

Perhaps the Lord permitted this raid on Ziklag to encourage David to get out of enemy territory and go back to Judah where he belonged. … We can but imagine the horror and grief of David and his 600 men who had never lost a battle. Their city was burned, their wealth had been confiscated, and their wives and children had been kidnapped. It was the mercy of the Lord that the Amalekites spared the lives of the women and children, for in their raids David and his men had certainly killed their share of enemy women and children (27:11). The verb “carried them away” (30:2) is literally “drove them off” and paints the picture of animals being driven off by the herdsmen.

2. They Bewailed The Situation As Weepers

(1 Samuel 30:4) Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.

As Adam Clarke wrote…

[Wept, until they had no more power to weep.] This marks great distress; they wept, as the Vulgate says, until their tears failed them.

And Wiersbe said…

The men wore themselves out in weeping and David was “greatly distressed” (vs. 6), a verb that means he was pressed into a tight corner, the way a potter would press clay into a mold.

B. Consider How They Blamed Their Leader

(1 Samuel 30:6) And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.

1. We Find That David Was Also Victimized

(1 Samuel 30:5) And David's two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite.

Matthew Henry describes the scene thusly…

Three days’ march they had from the camp of the Philistines to Ziklag, and now that they came thither weary, but hoping to find rest in their houses and joy in their families, behold a black and dismal scene was presented to them (v. 3), which made them all weep (David himself not excepted), though they were men of war, till they had no more power to weep, v. 4. The mention of David’s wives, Ahinoam and Abigail, and their being carried captive, intimates that this circumstance went nearer his heart than any thing else.

2. We Find That David Was Also Vexed

(1 Samuel 30:6) And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.

distressed – Hebrew 3334. yatsar, yaw-tsar'; a prim. root; to press (intrans.), i.e. be narrow; fig. be in distress:--be distressed, be narrow, be straitened (in straits), be vexed.

grieved – Hebrew 4784. marah, maw-raw'; a prim. root; to be (caus. make) bitter (or unpleasant); (fig.) to rebel (or resist; causat. to provoke):--bitter, change, be disobedient, disobey, grievously, provocation, provoke (-ing), (be) rebel (against, -lious).

Matthew Henry mentioned that we also see here…

The mutiny and murmuring of David’s men against him (v. 6): David was greatly distressed, for, in the midst of all his losses, his own people spoke of stoning him, because they looked upon him as the occasion of their calamities, by the provocation he had given the Amalekites, and his indiscretion in leaving Ziklag without a garrison in it. Thus apt are we, when we are in trouble, to fly into a rage against those who are in any way the occasion of our trouble, while we overlook the divine providence, and have not that regard to the operations of God’s hand in it which would silence our passions, and make us patient.

C. Consider How They Finally Believed The Lord

(1 Samuel 30:7-8) And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech's son, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David. {8} And David inquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all.

1. The Leader Had A Prayer

inquired – Hebrew 7592. sha'al, shaw-al'; or sha'el, shaw-ale'; a prim. root; to inquire; by impl. to request; by extens. to demand:--ask (counsel, on), beg, borrow, lay to charge, consult, demand, desire, X earnestly, enquire, + greet, obtain leave, lend, pray, request, require, + salute, X straitly, X surely, wish.

According to the New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, the “ephod” was “a distinctive part of the sacred dress of the Levitical priesthood.” It was what Matthew Henry referred to as “the breast-plate of judgment.” And as such, this shoulder covering was associated with coming before the Lord in a priestly capacity.

Wiersbe said…

Different people react in different ways to the same circumstances, because what life does to us depends on what life finds in us. Some of the people wanted to stone David, which was certainly a foolish response. They needed their leader now more than ever, and how would his death solve their problem? We don’t blame the men for being grieved, but we question their allowing their hearts to run ahead of their heads. David knew that the encouragement he needed could only come from the Lord. He ordered Abiathar the priest to bring the ephod and together they sought the will of the Lord. Saul had consulted the Lord but had received no answer (28:3-6), but the Lord graciously replied to David’s request. David was hardly in a place of complete obedience, but God answered him just the same.

2. The Lord Had A Plan

(1 Samuel 30:8) And David inquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all.

pursue – Hebrew 7291. radaph, raw-daf'; a prim. root; to run after (usually with hostile intent; fig. [of time] gone by):--chase, put to flight, follow (after, on), hunt, (be under) persecute (-ion, -or), pursue (-r).

overtake – Hebrew 5381. nasag, naw-sag'; a prim. root; to reach (lit. or fig.):--ability, be able, attain (unto), (be able to, can) get, lay at, put, reach, remove, wax rich, X surely, (over-) take (hold of, on, upon).

recover – Hebrew 5337. natsal, naw-tsal'; a prim. root; to snatch away, whether in a good or a bad sense:-- X at all, defend, deliver (self), escape, X without fail, part, pluck, preserve, recover, rescue, rid, save, spoil, strip, X surely, take (out).

God told David that there would be a running, a reaching, and a recovering.

Matthew Henry said…

If we thus, in all our ways, acknowledge God (as David did), we may expect that he will direct our steps, as he did David’s here, answering him above what he asked, with an assurance that he should recover all.

The Barnes’ Notes Commentary says…

The answers were evidently given by the Word of the Lord in the mouth of the high priest.

II. Notice Those Who Were Staying In Their Weakness

(This Is A Grieving/Guarding Group)

(1 Samuel 30:10) But David pursued, he and four hundred men: for two hundred abode behind, which were so faint that they could not go over the brook Besor.

A. Let’s Think About The Revelation Of Those That Stayed

The expression that we find in verse 24 is also found in 1 Samuel 25:13. “Tarrying (or abiding) by the stuff”; we would say “staying by the stuff.” This is an expression that is familiar to us even in this modern age, and it is first seen in God’s Word.

1. This Staying By The Stuff Had Pointed To A Practice With A Precedent

(1 Samuel 25:13) And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword. And they girded on every man his sword; and David also girded on his sword: and there went up after David about four hundred men; and two hundred abode by the stuff.

The action here suggests simply that they were left behind to guard the gear and the camp and everything that was not needed in going to battle; all their belongings.

stuff – Hebrew 3627. keliy, kel-ee'; from H3615; something prepared, i.e. any apparatus (as an implement, utensil, dress, vessel or weapon):--armour ([-bearer]), artillery, bag, carriage, + furnish, furniture, instrument, jewel, that is made of, X one from another, that which pertaineth, pot, + psaltery, sack, stuff, thing, tool, vessel, ware, weapon, + whatsoever.

2. This Staying By The Stuff Here Pointed To A Problem With Their Progress

(1 Samuel 30:10) But David pursued, he and four hundred men: for two hundred abode behind, which were so faint that they could not go over the brook Besor.

faint – Hebrew 6296. pagar, paw-gar'; a prim. root; to relax, i.e. become exhausted:--be faint.

(1 Samuel 30:24) For who will hearken unto you in this matter? but as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike.

Wiersbe said…

Assured by the Lord that his pursuit of the enemy would meet with success, David and his men took off on their beasts and traveled sixteen miles to the brook Besor where 200 men had to stop because they were exhausted. (The Hebrew word translated “faint” means “dead tired.”)

B. Let’s Think About The Reasons That They Stayed

(1 Samuel 30:10) But David pursued, he and four hundred men: for two hundred abode behind, which were so faint that they could not go over the brook Besor.

faint – Hebrew 6296. pagar, paw-gar'; a prim. root; to relax, i.e. become exhausted:--be faint.

The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament says…

These two hundred men were too tired to cross the brook and go any farther. (paagar, which only occurs here and in v. 21, signifies, in Syriac, to be weary or exhausted.) As Ziklag was burnt down, of course they found no provisions there, and were consequently obliged to set out in pursuit of the foe without being able to provide themselves with the necessary supplies.

1. The Travels Had Weakened Them

(1 Samuel 29:11) So David and his men rose up early to depart in the morning, to return into the land of the Philistines. And the Philistines went up to Jezreel.

Perhaps these were men who had fought most valiantly in recent days and thus were more weary. Or perhaps these were simply weaker men who were subjected to the rigors of the road in a greater way. Either way, the three day journey (without the opportunity to rest and replenish themselves adequately) had exhausted them.

2. The Trials Had Weakened Them

See again verses 1 thru 4

C. Let’s Think About The Region Where They Stayed

(1 Samuel 30:9-10) So David went, he and the six hundred men that were with him, and came to the brook Besor, where those that were left behind stayed. {10} But David pursued, he and four hundred men: for two hundred abode behind, which were so faint that they could not go over the brook Besor.

1. In These Waters, There Was The Source Of Refreshing That They Needed

brook – Hebrew 5158. nachal, nakh'-al; from H5157 in its orig. sense; a stream, espec. a winter torrent; (by impl.) a (narrow) valley (in which a brook runs); also a shaft (of a mine):--brook, flood, river, stream, valley.

2. In This Word, There Is The Suggestion Of Refreshing That They Needed

Besor – Hebrew 1308. Besowr, bes-ore'; from H1319; cheerful; Besor, a stream of Pal.:--Besor.

They stopped at a place called “cheerful.” This may suggest the idea that they couldn’t quite get to the other side of “cheerful.” Or perhaps it could suggest that they needed to stay for awhile at a place called “cheerful” where they could get the help they needed.

III. Notice Those Who Were Scorning In Their Wickedness

(This Is A Grumbling Group)

(1 Samuel 30:21-22) And David came to the two hundred men, which were so faint that they could not follow David, whom they had made also to abide at the brook Besor: and they went forth to meet David, and to meet the people that were with him: and when David came near to the people, he saluted them. {22} Then answered all the wicked men and men of Belial, of those that went with David, and said, Because they went not with us, we will not give them ought of the spoil that we have recovered, save to every man his wife and his children, that they may lead them away, and depart.

A. We Find The Corrupt Attitude Here (The Power Of Greed Was Demonstrated)

(1 Samuel 30:22) Then answered all the wicked men and men of Belial, of those that went with David, and said, Because they went not with us, we will not give them ought of the spoil that we have recovered, save to every man his wife and his children, that they may lead them away, and depart.

1. There Is A Sinfulness That Is Mentioned Here

the wicked men and men of Belial

2. There Is A Selfishness That Is Manifested Here

we will not give them ought of the spoil that we have recovered

B. We Find The Clear Actuality Here (The Power Of God Was Demonstrated)

(1 Samuel 30:23) Then said David, Ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that which the LORD hath given us, who hath preserved us, and delivered the company that came against us into our hand.

1. The Substantial Blessings Could Be Directly Attributed To God

that which the LORD hath given us

2. The Successful Battle Could Be Directly Attributed To God

who hath preserved us, and delivered the company that came against us into our hand

C. We Find The Compassionate Actions Here (The Power Of Grace Was Demonstrated)

1. Consider The Salutation Of This Gracious Leader

(1 Samuel 30:21) And David came to the two hundred men, which were so faint that they could not follow David, whom they had made also to abide at the brook Besor: and they went forth to meet David, and to meet the people that were with him: and when David came near to the people, he saluted them.

2. Consider The Statute Of This Gracious Leader

(1 Samuel 30:24-25) For who will hearken unto you in this matter? but as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike. {25} And it was so from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel unto this day.

Conclusion

In his “First Light” devotional from May 16th, 2011, Wil Rice IV of the Bill Rice Ranch wrote…

Have you ever heard someone say, “That’s not fair?” More importantly, have you ever said, “That’s not fair!”? Whether it’s a kid or his parent saying (or thinking) it, what’s fair is never fair. Someone always has it easier, better, or simpler! The grass is always greener on the other side!

Cries of “That’s not fair!” are exactly what greeted David after the trouble at Ziklag and the subsequent battle. Two hundred of David’s men were so weary that they had to “stay by the stuff” near a brook. When the army recovered all of the plundered goods along with the spoils of the battle, the four hundred men that fought on the front line didn’t want to share with the two hundred men on the sideline. Why should they share when the weak men didn’t even help? Can’t you almost hear them say, “But that’s not fair!” David’s solution was to divide the spoils, graciously sharing with the two hundred weary soldiers.

When you are tempted to think or say, “That’s not fair!” remember that life is not fair. Don’t lose sleep over something that is too much or too little, too easy or too hard, too in front or too behind the scenes. Remember, first of all, that what you have is given by God. Nothing you have is really “yours”; God owns it all and gives you whatever you have, whether that is a little or a lot.

Secondly, remember that what you have is improved by others. Whether you are on the front lines of battle, or you are staying by the stuff, what you have can be enhanced by others. If everyone just does what they can, the need is always met. A carpenter can build many things that I never could. On the other hand, a carpenter may never preach at a church or at the Bill Rice Ranch. The point is not making sure everything is “fair”; the point is doing your part with what you’ve been given. A common purpose or goal is only met when people take individual responsibility.

Don’t waste your life complaining about what is not fair. Can I let you in on a secret about what you have? It’s not fair! What you have is given by God and improved by others. Use what you have to do the job God has for you to do. (http://billriceranch.org/firstlight-blog/?p=1127)

Whether you are out on the front lines or if all you are able to do is stay by the stuff, do what God has enabled you to do and allowed you to do for His glory! If you experience loss, trust God with it. If you experience victory and success, give God the glory for it.