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I first heard Besor Brook mentioned by Max Lucado, in a devotional he gave to a group of pastors. He mentioned a lady who signed her letters, “yours at Besor Brook.”

Then, in preparing to teach the life of David to the Downline Institute in Memphis, I ran across it again in the writings of Eugene Peterson.

Having thought about it, I believe Besor Brook should be as famous as the Jordan River or the Nile or the Euphrates or the Mississippi – not because of its size or depth, but because of what happened there.

Here’s the story: David is not yet king of Israel. He’s in his later 20’s, and commands a company of about 600 men. Their headquarters and home is a place called Ziklag.

David and his men are on their way back home from battle. When they arrive, they find a raiding party of guerillas has came down upon the village, captured the women and children as slaves, and carried out all they owned. Their little village was nothing but ashes, and their families had been taken hostage.

The anger and fears and grief of the 600 clouded their minds and hardened their hearts against David. He was their leader. He should not have left the village protected. David should be held responsible. David should be strung up.

In his distress, David turned to the Lord for strength. Apparently, he walked through the village and prayed. He went deep within himself, met God and found strength and direction.

David called his men together and told them to prepare to march – they were going after the guerillas!

David’s men had just returned from long march back from the Philistine battle front. They were fatigued, demoralized, and didn’t trust David. But they went – after all, their families were at stake.

At Besor Brook, 15 miles from home, some of the men said, “I can’t take another step.” 200 dropped out – they had no more strength or heart. David left 1/3 of his men – and their equipment – at Besor Brook.

The remaining 400, lightened of their load, pushed on. It was like a wild goose chase, without the goose. Tracks gave out. Sign could not be read. They were also ready to give up, when they came across a man in the desert.

He was half-dead, starving, thirsty and almost comatose. David and his men gave the man water and nursed his strength back. Turns out – he was the slave of one of the guerillas. He became sick and was left for dead. His master reasoned that it was too much trouble to take care of him and prepare for the party to celebrate a successful raid.

This ex-slave led David and his men to the victory celebration. The guerillas were dancing, eating, drinking. It did not take long for David’s seasoned warriors to put the guerillas out of their misery and recover their families – every woman and child was recovered.

Meanwhile, back to Besor Brook and the exhausted 200. They had been cooling their feet in the brook. They felt better and probably regretted their decision to stop.

The 400 returned – they had risked the journey, endured the forced march, fought the battle, recovered their families and looted the guerillas. Some saw no reason to share the spoils of war with the 200 who had stayed at Besor. “Give them their families and tell them to shove off – we don’t’ need quitters in this company.”

David’s broke up the argument with his decision–

“Families don’t do this sort of thing! Oh no, my brothers. You can’t act this way with what God gave us! God kept us safe. He handed over the raiders who attacked us. Who would ever listen to this kind of talk? The share of the one who stays with the gear is the share of the one who fights—equal shares. Share and share alike!”

We all share in the victory – after all, God gave it to us. We’re God’s, not our own. Anyone who has anything to boast about – boast in God.”

That unified the team once more. David’s logic so captured their hearts that it became a rule in Israel that all would share in victory.

Now I understand the lady who signs her letters – yours at Brook Besor. Maybe she sees herself as too tired to go on and feels consigned to the sidelines because of lack of stamina. In spite of how she feels, what regrets she may have, she is aware of God’s affirmation.

She is part of the team. She will receive grace, though she has not deserved or earned it.

Brook Besor is the gospel of undeserved grace.

By the way, the name “Besor” means “good news.”

Now, as Paul Harvey might say, you know the rest of the story!



  1. Sam,
    Thanks for the great article. Charles Spurgeon preached one of his last sermons at Metropolitan Tabernacle on this passage. He thanked his congregation for all they had done and said that everyone would share in the rewards of their years of ministry together. Shortly after this sermon he traveled to Mentone, France for a time of rest and passed away while there.

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