Scripture Focus: 1 Samuel 30.22-25
22 But all the evil men and troublemakers among David’s followers said, “Because they did not go out with us, we will not share with them the plunder we recovered. However, each man may take his wife and children and go.”
23 David replied, “No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the LORD has given us. He has protected us and delivered into our hands the raiding party that came against us. 24 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.” 25 David made this a statute and ordinance for Israel from that day to this.
Reflection: Diamonds In the Rough
By John Tillman
During this period of David’s life, he was God’s anointed, the rightful king of Israel, yet Saul was determined to maintain power. David not only had no throne, he was forced into exile.
An outcast, David attracted outcasts. (1 Samuel 22.2) He took in the distressed and the discontented, the poor and the rebellious. It’s easy to lead those of exemplary character and high moral standards. David was leading those so violent they were a danger to even him.
Many events in this section of scripture depict tests of David’s character. Will he murder Nabal? (1 Samuel 25.34) Or Saul? (1 Samuel 24.3-10) Will he take the throne by force? Will he be just? Will he be a ruffian in the wilderness or a diamond in the rough?
David doesn’t pass every test. To survive Saul, he serves the enemy of his enemy, marching under the banner of King Achish and his false god. David is no king yet. At best, during this time we might call David a warlord—a mercenary. At worst, a war criminal. Scripture doesn’t hide these failings but it does highlight moments when David’s roughness is cut away and facets of kingly destiny shine.
In a moment of victory, David’s rough gang of fighters wants to shame the weak, claiming dominance and a greedy share of wealth. The narrator calls them “evil men and troublemakers.” David calls them, “my brothers.”
David does not shy away from pointing out that their arguments are foolish. His rhetorical question, “Who will listen to what you say?” shames them but calling them “brothers” lifts them up. David not only stops the madness of the moment, he establishes a just rule from that moment on. David grows into his calling and at least some of his men follow along.
Like David, we may find ourselves in exile stuck between wicked kings. We feel the tension of being in this world but not of it and being surrounded by the desperate who default to violence and selfishness.
Like David, we’ll stumble, fail, and perhaps compromise when we should stand boldly. But amidst our rough and tumble world, we must remember that in God’s reality, we are children of God and regents of his Kingdom.
We, and those around us, need to be cut, shaped, ground, and polished by the Holy Spirit from diamonds in the rough to shining facets reflecting Christ’s light.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Open my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. — Psalm 51.16
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.
1 Samuel 29-30 (Listen 6:33)
Revelation 9 (Listen 3:30)
Read more about Blocking the Way of Wickedness
We don’t always have a choice about working with or living among wicked people, but we can choose how we respond.
Read more about Supporting Our Work
Our donors support ad-free content that brings biblical devotionals to inboxes across the world. Consider becoming one today.