The Making Of A King

David fled for his life. The land of Israel was no longer safe. Escaping to the enemy seemed the only option to avoid a confrontation with King Saul. Saul was the Lord's anointed, and David was not going to be the one to lift a sword against him.

King Saul's persistence had forced David to desperate measures, seeking refuge with the Philistines, and in particular, Achish, the king of Gath.

At first the Philistines were adamant, David deserved to die, because he was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Philistines. David, however, convinced King Achish that he was no threat to him or his reign. King Achish seemed to relish the opportunity. Indeed, who would threaten his rule, if David was his ally?

Then when David suggested that it would be more beneficial if the king gave him a city and region which he and his six hundred men could protect, Achish jumped at the idea and gave David the city of Ziklag. For the next fourteen months David and his men secured the southern border of the Philistines, gaining the trust of his most loyal supporter, King Achish.

Then the time came when the Philistine kings gathered their armies to do battle against King Saul and Israel. David and his men were at the rear of King Achish's army, when the other Philistine kings saw them. Fearing disloyalty on the battlefield, they insisted that Achish send David and his men back to Ziklag.

A jubilant home-coming turned to despair and tragedy, when David and his men found Ziklag smoldering and deserted. "Now it happened, when David and his men came to Ziklag, on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the South and Ziklag, attacked Ziklag and burned it with fire…" (1 Samuel 30:1)

Everyone had been taken captive, there was no one to bury. Everything of value to the Amalekites was taken, while anything of value that remained was burnt. The Amalekites had left nothing but dust and ashes–a strategy to discourage body, soul and spirit.

David and his men wept to exhaustion. "Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep." (1 Samuel 30:4)

The Amalekites and Israel had some history.

All the nations feared the God of Israel, when they saw how the LORD brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt. They heard the reports of the judgements and plagues, the devastation that fell upon the Egyptians and their land. The hearts of the surrounding nations melted as they considered the power and might of the God of Israel. They dared not attack the children of Israel lest they fall to the same destruction as the Egyptians.

Amalek however, did not fear the God of Israel. Instead, Amalek defied His great Name by attacking the stragglers while the children of Israel journeyed toward Mount Sinai. Then when the children of Israel arrived at Rephadim, Amalek was ready for a full confrontation.

"Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephadim. And Moses said to Joshua, 'Choose some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.'" (Exodus 17:8-9)

This was Israel's first war. Significantly, the God of Israel did not strike the Amalekites with plagues, as He did the Egyptians. Moreover, Israel was required to publicly battle in the heavenlies, whereby Moses, Aaron and Hur, stood atop the hill overlooking the battlefield. Each time Moses would raise his staff over his head Israel would prevail, but when Moses hands would come down, Amalek would prevail.

"And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side, and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword." (Exodus 17:11-13)

Whilst, Israel won the heavenly and the earthly battle, Amalek survived. Amalek was not totally destroyed. Furthermore, Amalek would live to be an evil influence in future generations.

"Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.' And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-LORD-Is-My-Banner; for he said, 'Because the LORD has sworn: the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.'" (Exodus 17:14-16)

Amalek's survival promised ongoing problems for Israel. His evil influence would be felt in every generation until the end of time, at which time, the LORD will blot out Amalek's name from under heaven.

Observe Amalek's influence on the children of Israel at Rephadim. When the children of Israel arrived at Rephadim they contended with the LORD, saying to Moses, "Give us water, that we may drink." (Exodus 17:2) Moses resisted their aggression and strengthened himself in the LORD. "So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, 'What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me!'" (Exodus 17:4)

The LORD miraculously provided water from the rock, and Moses named the place Massah and Meribah because the children of Israel had contended and had tempted the LORD, "saying, 'Is the LORD among us or not?'" (Exodus 17:7)

Remarkably, in spite of the great miracles of the recent past, somehow the children of Israel posed the question, "Is the LORD among us or not?" It is a question reflecting doubt, an expression of uncertainty questioning whether the miracles were actually the power of God. How could God allow stragglers to be consumed by Amalek? If the LORD were truly among us surely He would not let this happen! Perhaps, the LORD returned to Egypt and would not accompany them in the wilderness? Such thoughts and doubts found their expression in the question, "Is the LORD really among us or not?"

Not surprising, Amalek means doubt. Typically, when all the other nations feared the God of Israel, Amalek doubted the power and glory of God. Where as all the other peoples acknowledged and honoured the God of Israel, he rebelled and denied. Amalek resisted, and attacked the stragglers thus giving the appearance of defeating Israel. His tactics work. In defiance, Amalek says to the nations, "See, where is the God of Israel?" "Surely, the God of Israel is not among them if we can attack them (stragglers) and not suffer punishment like the Egyptians?" Amalek has the ability to influence by deceit with minimal effort.

By the time the children of Israel arrived at Rephadim, they were ready to doubt. Amalek's attack on the stragglers had exposed the children of Israel spiritually. Instead of faith, they expressed doubt, "Is the LORD among us or not?" (Exodus 17:7)

The seeds of doubt sown. The children of Israel exposed. Amalek advances unhindered. He has "earned the right" to make a direct frontal attack. This is Amalek's strategy from generation to generation.

David's encounter with Amalek, and his response to the attack on Ziklag was therefore significant.

David was greatly distressed. He had lost both his wives, Ahinoam and Abigail. Moreover, his men spoke of stoning him.

"Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God." (1 Samuel 30:6)

In the face of great hardship, David strengthened himself in the LORD. Note the similarities between the events at Rephadim and Ziklag. Like Moses, David was in danger of being stoned. And like Moses, David strengthened himself in the LORD.

In the defining moment, David displayed kingly qualities. This was a signal for the people of Israel, here is your next king! He was truly a leader like unto Moses, and one whose heart was after God's own heart.

Not surprising, the passage bears all the hallmarks and signposts of the Messiah, and His Kingdom in the World to Come.

"Then David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech's son, 'Please bring the ephod here to me.' And Abiathar brought the ephod to David. So David inquired of the LORD, saying, 'Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?' And He answered him, 'Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.'" (1 Samuel 30:7-8)

David's relationship to the High Priest is typical of the king of Israel, but it is unique to Israel. Unlike kings and leaders of other nations who make laws to suit their own purposes, as the future king of Israel, David would conduct himself in accordance with the Torah. He needed the High Priest. As king, David would study and obey the commandments. His entire reign and rule would be subject to the Word of God. The High Priest, and indeed the Priests, were God's appointed teachers of the Torah and were dedicated to serve Him in the Tabernacle and later the Temple, therefore, David, as king, would seek the counsel of the High Priest in determining the will of God. Effectively, God, the king and the High Priest would work as one for one purpose–for the glory of God and the sanctification of His Name. For this reason, David asks the counsel of Abiathar and together they seek the will of the LORD.

David's two questions were answered with three replies. David was to pursue. In pursuing, he would overtake them. In overtaking them, he would be victorious, recovering everything, without suffering any loss.

The next two verses record how David with his six hundred men left Ziklag in pursuit, and that two hundred men were left behind at brook Besor, while four hundred men with David continued in the pursuit. (v:9-10)

Amazingly, the next five verses record what transpires after they discover an Egyptian, in the field.

Usually, an Egyptian in a field would not draw too much attention. Undoubtedly, he was part of the original troop that had invaded Ziklag.

Remarkably, David's men do not kill him. He is kept alive. He is even brought to David, alive. Instead of being tortured the Egyptian is shown kindness.

Note too, the abundance of words used to explain the incident.

"Then they found an Egyptian…" (1 Samuel 30:11) That is descriptive enough; the text could have easily stopped there, but it continues. "…in the field…" As if that is not sufficient, "…and brought him to David…" The intention of the Word is more than simple explanation or description. There are truths to be revealed under the layers.

Let us read further to see what else is on the plate: "…and they gave him bread…" Surely, that is the end, but no, "…and he ate…" And then, "…and they let him drink water."

In this single verse there is an abundance of words being used to describe what would normally be considered a fairly insignificant event, but there is a bigger picture in view.

Bread in Scripture is synonmous with the Word of God. The children of Israel were humbled in the Wilderness, and ate bread from heaven so that they would learn the importance of the Word of God, and its daily digestion: "… man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD." (Deuteronomy 8:3) Bread also is a product of man's labour and toil of the ground. The grain is grounded into flour and baked, involving a process of preparation. So too, the Word of God is like grain given to the children of Israel who through their study and service to the LORD, is prepared for dispensing to the nations.

Water a product of rain, is more a Divine provision. Together, the bread and the water indicate the combined endeavours of God and His people Israel. Through the people of Israel, the Word of God represented by the bread is given out to the nations, and then is watered and brought to fruit by the power of His Spirit.

The Egyptian is symbolic of the nations.

Let us consider verse twelve in the same fashion. "And they gave him (the Egyptian) a piece of a cake of figs…" Normally, that would be sufficient to paint the picture that the Egyptian was given extra sustenance, but there is more. As before, the Scripture continues, "…and two clusters of raisins." What are the piece of a cake of figs and the two clusters of raisins representing?

The piece of cake is the nation of Israel prospering in a fruitful and bountiful Promised Land, during the future reign of the Messiah. In those days, Isaiah the prophet declares, "Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit." (Isaiah 27:6). The two clusters of raisins represents the life-giving Torah, given to Israel on two tablets. The two tablets of the Torah are a summary encapsulating the entire Torah. The Torah is life to all who cling to it (Proverbs 3:18). And blessed is that man whose delight is in the Torah (Psalm 1:1). The promise to the children of Israel was longevity and prosperity, blessing and life in the Land of Israel, if they kept and obeyed the Torah. "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may cling to him, for he is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them." (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

The Egyptian eating the cake and two clusters of raisins is a picture of the nations during the future Messianic kingdom. At that time, a fruitful and prosperous Israel will feed the nations the life-giving Word of God. "For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem." (Isaiah 2:3)

Note again the amount of text describing the Egyptian eating and recovering. "So when he had eaten, his strength came back to him; for he had eaten no bread nor drunk water for three days and three nights." (1 Samuel 30:12)

This is a picture of the nations who follow the King Messiah, the Bread of Heaven, who walk in His paths and learn of His ways. Eating is the process of digesting, thus providing sustenance for the body. Eating is typical of a person devouring or studying God's Word. Just as the body is sustained by digesting nourishing food, so too, obedience provides purpose for the study of the Word of God. By devouring His Word, and walking in His Spirit the nations will be strengthened in the paths of righteousness. "Then Yeshua said to them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.' Then they said to him, 'Lord, give us this bread always.' And Yeshua said to them, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.'" (John 6:32-35)

The three days and three nights are a connection to the time in which the Messiah endured death and the grave. After the three days, Yeshua was raised to life. "Yeshua said to them, 'The son of man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and the third day he will be raised up.'" (Matthew 17:22-23) The Messiah is the firstfruits of those who are risen, therefore, those who come to Him and believe in Him, will likewise conquer death and the grave, the penalty of sin, by experiencing resurrection to life.

"Then David said to him, 'To whom do you belong, and where are you from?' And he said, 'I am a young man from Egypt, servant of an Amalekite; and my master left me behind, because three days ago I fell sick.'" (1 Samuel 30:13)

"I am a young man from Egypt" does not fall on deaf ears. The people of Israel recall how one of their most honoured forefathers, Joseph was once a young man in Egypt. And like Joseph, this young man was a servant. Israel knows what it is like to be "a young man in Egypt" –they were a young nation in Egypt, and understood what it is like to be a servant, since they too were once slaves. And the LORD commanded His people, Israel to uphold justice, in particular to remember how they suffered unjustly at the hands of the Egyptians, when they were just a young nation. "You shall not pervert justice due the stranger or the fatherless, nor take a widow's garment as a pledge. But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this thing." (Deuteronomy 24:17-18)

Kingdom themes are pictured in these scenes. By showing mercy to the Egyptian, David is foreshadowing the King Messiah who during His future reign will extend compassion to the nations. David's conduct is typical of what the nations can expect from the King of Israel. By comparison, a king of the nations is more likely to end the life of the young man, whereas, David demonstrates the behaviour of a truly godly leader and monarch of Israel. From whom else can the nations expect the lovingkindness of the LORD to be shown, if not the people of God? How else can the nations experience righteousness and peace unless the King of Israel reigns? In view of the attention and sustenance given him, the Egyptian was revived and lived. So too, the nations shall thrive and live in peace during the reign of Israel's Messiah.

In the face of hostility, grief and pain, David sought the LORD. These traits are both desirable for a king of Israel, but especially, distinctive of Israel's future Messianic King. "There shall come forth a rod from the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD." (Isaiah 11:1-2)

David's actions are a picture of the King Messiah's pursuit of justice and rule over the nations, during His reign. "Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgement and justice from that time forward, even forever." (Isaiah 9:7)

David eventually overtook and defeated the Amalekite raiders, reclaiming everyone and restoring everything that had been lost, exactly as promised. Soon after these events David returned to Israel and was crowned King. Likewise, Messiah Yeshua, the future King will return, as the prophet declared.

"Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And he who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war . . . And he had a name on his robe and on his thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS." (Revelation 19:11, 16)