1 Samuel 22:1-2
While David is on the run from Saul, he somehow manages to amass a small army that follows him. 1 Samuel describes it as a rag-tag group of individuals including his family members, those in debt, the dysfunctional, the disillusioned, and the dissatisfied.
David was arguable the greatest king Israel ever saw, yet he began his kingship on the run, as a fugitive, with others who were in the same position.
The people whom David attracted were not nobles. They were not priests. They were not elders of Israel. They were not men in power.
They were quite the opposite.
They were those discontent with the way things had become. They were those who held bitterness for the Israel had evolved. They were those with debts –possibly to King Saul– that could not be repaid.
They were the rejects, the outcasts, the disgruntled, the fugitives, the discontent.
These were the first men to follow King David. But why? What is it that David had that was so appealing to these kinds of men that four hundred would swear their allegiance to him?
There are two equally viable possibilities.
First, all of Israel knew there was a regime change coming. Saul was out. David was in. It was only a matter of time before David would claim the throne. If you think about it, these four hundred men were choosing the winning side before a before the new administration even took the throne. They were getting in early with the new king in hopes of capitalizing on the position of support later. It makes perfect sense: those who were discontent with the current regime whole-heartedly supported the rise of a new regime in order to achieve a level of importance in the future administration. While these guys may have been discontent revolutionaries, they understood that this was their opportunity to be on the good side of the next leader, and they jumped at the chance.
Second, David was called a man after God’s own heart. God’s heart extends second, third, fourth, etc. chances when we fail. God exercises grace when we have fallen short. God covers us with mercy by shielding us from what we deserve. I can’t help but think that David acted in the same way for these men. These men must have come from some diverse, difficult situations. They sound like a rough group of guys. From my experiences, guys who are discontent, disgruntled, frustrated, and in debt are not the nicest guys to be around. I am sure that tempers were hot and tension was high. Overall, there must have been a cloud of discouragement amongst men who seemed to be rebels and outcasts. David provided a new start, a fresh start. David provided hope for those who, because of Saul’s reign, had become hopeless.
With these ideas in mind, it starts to make sense why twice within 1 Samuel, David’s band of misfits encourage him to kill Saul. They sense the nearing changing of the guard, they are on the side that has already been anointed the winner, they have hope in the future government that will be established, and they have a chance to get rid of the enemy that is responsible for their discontentment.
My question for you is assuming that you are David, not one of the four hundred:
How are you inspiring the people that follow you?
Are you planning a coup of the current system? Are you leading a group of people to overthrow the current establishment of Christianity, church, leadership, or discipleship? Are you surrounded by like-minded individuals who are kissing your rear end in hopes to find themselves in a position of power once the system has been reformed with your agenda?
Or, are you inspiring hope to those that you lead? Are you continually showing grace to those that follow you? Are you inviting those who have been mistreated, mishandled, and abused to have a fresh start under your leadership? Are you choosing peace over death, forgiveness over bitterness, and humility over pride? Are the people that follow you looking up to you because of who you are or what you stand for?
Why do the four hundred behind you follow you?