I have been reading through 1 & 2 Samuel in the Bible, and I am practicing reading it like it’s the first time for me. Honestly, I have been jaw-dropped at some of my discoveries. It’s amazing to me how many times you can read something in Scripture, but each time the Holy Spirit will bring new facets to your attention. I love it.
In 1 Samuel 30, the legendary Renaissance man David and his army of roughly 600 men had just been dismissed from joining the Philistine army in attacking Israel. When David & his men arrived home in their province, they discovered that it had been raided while they were out. Their possessions were stolen and ransacked, but worst of all, every woman and child had been kidnapped and taken for pleasure. I hate to think about that part. It’s like the movie “Taken.” But Liam Neeson—er—David, being the stud he was, immediately turned right around and went to retrieve what had been stolen. 200 of his men, though, were so exhausted from the journey that he allowed them to stay behind.
Long story short, David and his remaining 400 men returned home safely with their wives and children and even some ridiculous plunder! The men that stayed behind were excited to welcome them home. In verse 22, though, we find that some of the 400 were commenting, “Because these 200 men didn’t fight with us as part of our team, they don’t deserve the rewards. We shouldn’t share this plunder with them.”
That’s entirely fair, wouldn’t you say? If you don’t do the work, you don’t get the benefits. If you don’t pull your weight on the team, don’t expect to reap the paycheck.
But look at what David said. “No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the Lord has given us. He has protected us and handed over to us the forces 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” (vs 23-24).
What do you think about David’s response? It certainly isn’t a “fair” thing to say, but it’s extraordinarily generous and kind. It reminds me of a couple principles: first, that nothing ultimately belongs to us but has been entrusted to us by God. Second, to name drop, my pal Abe Lincoln once said, “I have always found that mercy bears richer fruit than strict justice.” Imagine the impact that David’s generosity had on his men. Verse 25 says that this principle of generosity became an ordinance for all of Israel to practice. Crazy!
So, my dear friends, keep in mind: Mercy > Justice. Always. Generosity always trumps fairness. Why don’t you surprise someone by treating them better than they deserve, especially when that person is at fault? After all, that is what Christ did for us.