David Defines Community Rights and Responsibilities

Refugee Among Philistines


We examine community rights and responsibilities based on David’s interactions with his people during his days in Ziklag. A dispute among his people on sharing battle proceeds provided him an opportunity to define a principle that is applicable today.

David at Ziklag

He was living in Philistine territory with 600 men and their families to stay out of Saul’s reach. While he was out with his men to offer to fight on the Philistine side in a battle against Israel, Amalekites raided his base in Ziklag, burnt and plundered the city, and carried off its women, children, and others. Meanwhile, Philistine commanders rejected David’s offer to fight on their side. Therefore, David and his men returned to Ziklag.

Pursuit of Amalekites

They pursued and caught up with the Amalekites, defeated them, recovered the captives, and took a large amount of plunder. Only 400 of his men participated in the pursuit. The other 200 stayed back at the base. When they returned to Ziklag, some of the 400 objected to the other 200 sharing in the battle proceeds. However, David stepped into the dispute and ruled that every person deserves an equal share of the proceeds: the men that went to battle deserve an equal share as do the men that stayed at the base to guard supplies.

Community Rights and Responsibilities

This ruling has profound present-day applications. It recognizes that every person as a member of a community has responsibilities to, and rights from, the community. Although individual responsibilities vary, every person has equal rights that are independent of the responsibilities. Several generations after David, the apostle Paul preached a similar message in his “one body, many parts” sermon to the Corinthians [1 Corinthians 12:14–31]. He likened the relationship between a community and an individual to the relationship between a human body and its parts, such as nose, hands, eyes, etc. Each part has a role and benefits from the other parts playing their roles. No part can deride the other because every part has to play its role for the body to function. In the same way, God created every person as a member of a community. Each person owes responsibilities to the community and derives rights from the collective effort of the community members. Every person is born into a family community where he/she has opportunity to learn responsibilities. As a person grows, the community expands and may include church, school, work-place and other communities, and eventually the larger world community. To be an effective member of your community, recognize and understand your responsibilities in order to make contributions to yourself, other individuals, and the community. The process begins in the family and matures as your community expands.



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