The Spoils of Grace

Long ago, in ancient Israel, men of war with a score to settle decided to settle one within their own ranks. Long ago, in ancient Israel, and perhaps in another place or two long before then, men of war realized that they could not go off to battle and still guard their tents and supplies. My guess is that this realization was rather dramatic at some point; it probably occurred when they returned from routing the enemy to find that their own camp had been routed as well.

So, they decided by whatever means men of war decide such things, that some portion of the army would stay behind to guard the gear, the food and whatever other things men of war leave behind when they go off to kill one another at some designated place. Aye, and here’s the rub, so to speak: it was the men who fought and won the battle who shared the spoils of war.

Theoretically, the ones who stayed behind and managed to skip the battle by tending to the camp were generally less exposed to risk of dismemberment, disembowelment and other such perks of war. Of course, this relative advantage disappeared as soon as some portion of the enemy or another enemy altogether raided the camp. Given that those who marched off to battle were pretty much assuredly at great risk of bodily harm, it was their notion that they should keep the plunder to themselves. That presumes, of course, that they collectively won the battle and individually survived it in healthy enough fashion to be plundering later.

So, those who stayed behind on guard duty would sometimes see the others returning to camp, laden with fine silver, gold, precious gems and other articles of some value taken from the camps or homes of the defeated enemy. You can imagine, I suspect, that the camp guards, even if they understood the logic, still resented the loading. Those whose lives had been put at the very edge of the blade, also resented the notion of sharing the yields harvested by their own blood and the blood of others who had fallen.

According to I Samuel 30, it was David, King of Israel, who decided to do things differently. In essence, he said, “Everything that we have gained and recovered today has been granted by God’s own hand. We will share equally with those who stayed behind and guarded our supplies.”

What a difference it makes in our willingness to share when we realize that everything that we have, we have by the grace and blessing of our Creator.

H. Arnett

About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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