Brook Besor. Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of the place. Most haven’t, but more need to. The Brook Besor narrative deserves shelf space in the library of the worn-out. It speaks tender words to the tired heart.
The story emerges from the ruins of Ziklag. David and his six hundred soldiers return from the Philistine war front to find utter devastation. A raiding band of Amalekites had swept down on the village, looted it, and taken the women and children hostage. The sorrow of the men mutates into anger, not against the Amalekites, but against David. After all, hadn’t he led them into battle? Hadn’t he left the women and children unprotected? Isn’t he to blame? Then he needs to die. So they start grabbing stones.
This could be his worst hour.
But he makes it one of his best.
David redirects the men’s anger toward the enemy. They set out in pursuit of the Amalekites. Keep the men’s weariness in mind. They still bear the trail dust of a long campaign and haven’t entirely extinguished their anger at David. They don’t know the Amalekites’ hideout, and, if not for the sake of their loved ones, they might give up.
Indeed, two hundred do. The army reaches a brook called Besor, and they dismount. Soldiers wade in the creek and splash water on their faces, sink tired toes in cool mud, and stretch out on the grass. Hearing the command to move on, two hundred choose to rest. “You go on without us,” they say.
How tired does a person have to be to abandon the hunt for his own family?
The church has its quorum of such folks. Good people. Godly people. Only hours or years ago they marched with deep resolve. But now fatigue consumes them. They’re exhausted. So beat-up and worn down that they can’t summon the strength to save their own flesh and blood. Old age has sucked their oxygen. Or maybe it was a deflating string of defeats. Divorce can leave you at the brook. Addiction can as well. Whatever the reason, the church has its share of people who just sit and rest.
And the church must decide. What do we do with the Brook Besor people? Berate them? Shame them? Give them a rest but measure the minutes? Or do we do what David did? David let them stay.
He and the remaining four hundred fighters resume the chase.
David and his men swoop down upon the enemy like hawks on rats. Every Israelite woman and child is rescued. Every Amalekite either bites the dust or hits the trail, leaving precious plunder behind. David goes from scapegoat to hero, and the whooping and hollering begin.
And what about the two hundred men who had rested?
You might feel the way some of David’s men felt: “Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except for every man’s wife and children” (1 Sam. 30:22).
A Molotov cocktail of emotions is stirred, lit, and handed to David. Here’s how he defuses it: “Don’t do that after what the Lord has given us. He has protected us and given us the enemy who attacked us. Who will listen to what you say? The share will be the same for the one who stayed with the supplies as for the one who went into battle. All will share alike.” (1 Samuel 30:23-24)
Note David’s words: they “stayed with the supplies,” as if this had been their job. They hadn’t asked to guard supplies; they wanted to rest. But David dignifies their decision to stay.
David did many mighty deeds in his life. He did many foolish deeds in his life. But perhaps the noblest was this rarely discussed deed: he honored the tired soldiers at Brook Besor.
Someday somebody will read what David did and name their church the Congregation at Brook Besor. Isn’t that what the church is intended to be? A place for soldiers to recover their strength?
If you are listed among them, here is what you need to know: it’s okay to rest. Jesus is your David. He fights when you cannot. He goes where you cannot. He’s not angry if you sit. Did he not invite, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest” (Mark 6:31 MSG)?
Brook Besor blesses rest.
Brook Besor also cautions against arrogance. David knew the victory was a gift. Let’s remember the same. Salvation comes like the Egyptian in the desert, a delightful surprise on the path. Unearned. Undeserved. Who are the strong to criticize the tired?
Are you weary? Catch your breath. We need your strength.
Are you strong? Reserve passing judgment on the tired. Odds are, you’ll need to plop down yourself. And when you do, Brook Besor is a good story to know.
From Facing Your Giants