Ultimately David was rewarded for his obedience and endurance. In the meantime, he received some magnificent compensations.
As captain of Saul’s army, David interacted mainly with soldiers. Later, in Adullum’s cave, he gave himself to serve and lead the needy who gathered to him. Now he discovered a beautiful new relationship. God gave him a friend who loved him with deep devotion. David found in Jonathan a covenant brother, one who was totally committed to him.
We all need intimate friendship. The church was never meant to be the gathering of strangers and mere co-workers. Paul spoke of his ‘beloved brothers’ whom he ‘longed for’. He used words that expressed deep affection, and tears often flowed when journeys kept these friends apart.
I have many covenant brothers. Our hearts are joined together. We love and respect one another, honour each other’s God-given ministry, and feel secure in each other’s loyalty. I really don’t know how I would manage without them. Have you got brothers and sisters like that? Who can set a value on them?
God also gave David a skilful volunteer army. Originally, it was 400 indebted, disillusioned men – just a handful of people in comparison with the thousands of trained soldiers David was accustomed to leading into battle. But he worked with what he had, training and fashioning them into a fighting unit. These ‘nobodies’ loved David, and as they responded to his leadership, they began to reflect his character. As they developed into a crack unit, high-calibre men who were already trained were drawn to David’s powerful anointing. God was doing something new in the land.
Amaziah was among those skilled warriors who defected to David. When the Spirit came upon him he declared, ‘We are yours, O David! We are with you, O son of Jesse! Success, success to you, and success to those who help you, for your God will help you’ (1 Chron. 12:18).
Some believers get very worried about such declarations of commitment because it could lead to a loss of personal freedom and turn individuals into weak, mindless sheep. But the men who joined David weren’t spineless individuals; they were mighty and highly gifted men. ‘The least was a match for a hundred, and the greatest for a thousand’ (1 Chron. 12:14). No one forced them to join David’s army; he didn’t ‘take over’ these men; rather, they came to him. They recognised that God was with him, and although they were all gifted and strong in their own right, they were willing to lay aside their independence and put their gifts at his disposal.
David had the same attitude as Jesus: ‘All the Father has given me will come to me.’ A spiritual principle is in operation here. God anoints a leader, then others see God’s hand on him and come to him, saying, ‘I can see among those who follow you the benefits of your spiritual leadership, and I want to be in on it too.’
Some Christians would say, ‘You must disciple people to Jesus, not to yourself.’ That’s right, of course, but the men who joined David didn’t say, ‘We are yours, Jehovah!’ They said, ‘We are yours, David.’ They were God’s people, but by giving themselves to David they were also serving God’s purpose.
We know that we are God’s and must have a personal walk with him, but we’re joined to others in the kingdom army and we establish God’s purposes together. It was the Holy Spirit who came on Amaziah and inspired him to say to David, ‘We are yours.’ It’s the same Holy Spirit who gives us all the faith to take similar action.
Have you committed yourself to anyone? Have you expressed personal loyalty to your pastor or your elders? Maybe you’ll reply, ‘No, I’m my own person. I like to keep my options open.’ Well, God bless you, but understand that he wants to fulfil his purpose through people who are deeply committed to one another.
These men didn’t just come to David with their weapons and gifts, they also offered him an undivided heart (1 Chron. 12:33). In saying, ‘We are yours,’ they implied, ‘We’ll use our weapons and gifts to serve you, and we’ll commit ourselves to you with all our heart.’
David received these high-quality new recruits and appointed them as captains of his raiding bands. That’s how you should join a local church. It’s wise to attend a church for a short time, to assess it. But once you’ve sensed that God is moving there and have seen that the work is led by a man after God’s heart, you must act. Offer yourself to the church and its leadership, and become fully committed to what God is doing there.
David probably looked out over the vast numbers flocking to him and recalled, ‘I was cut back once, holed up in a cave with just four hundred untrained men. I worked with them and now they’re a powerful fighting force. But God is now adding to us every day, bringing along men of stature. Incredible! It’s becoming a great army – like the army of God’ (1 Chron. 12:22).
God has his hand on those who obey him. It’s hard to be cut back when your contemporaries seem to advance steadily; to battle through God’s disciplines when others seem so free; to resist the temptation to drop out of the training course halfway through.
Do you want God to use you? Then let Him fashion your life. Be patient and you’ll find that God’s timing is perfect. Be determined to pass the test. Trust him.
‘The cure for impatience with the fulfillment of God’s timetable is to believe his promises, obey his will, and leave the results to him. So often when God’s timetable stretches into years we become discouraged and… want to give up or try to work something out on [our] own.’
Jerry Bridges, The Practice of Godliness, NavPress, 1996, p. 176.