This incident in the life of David during his rejection illustrates the principles of discipleship. David claimed uncompromising loyalty from his followers, the rejected Christ even more so.
In this passage, a group of men, led by Amasai came to David when he was in the hold (the cave of Adullam) wishing to join him. They were a motley company, in distress, in debt, discontented (1 Sam 22.1-2), and no doubt near despair. They were dissatisfied with King Saul, so they fled the city. Such were some of us when we came to Christ. David had saved their lives in slaying Goliath, and their allegiance was irresistibly drawn to him. They therefore came to David at Adullam, but there was no immediate reception. David met them, face to face, with a challenge!
The challenge - probed and proved
When the multitudes were charmed with Christ, His words and works, His grace and goodness, they followed Him. But Christ required commitment and faith. He confronted the crowds, setting out His terms of discipleship: "If any man come to me and hate not...he cannot be my disciple". Is that not similar to Davids challenge? "If ye be come peaceably unto me...but if ye be come to betray me...". His words contained a promise of an unbreakable bond - " mine heart shall be knit unto you" (the love of Christ), but also a warning of divine recompense, "God of our fathers look thereon", if they were not genuine. There are many who claim to be followers but fail to show the reality and constancy of true disciples.
David probed to prove the reality and sincerity of these men for he wanted only true-hearted and devoted followers. He knew the road ahead would be hard so he wanted these men to "count the cost". The Lord also made severe demands: "Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" (Lk 14.25-35). Total devotion and loyalty is needed, and only then will we appreciate the "unbreakable bond of love" in Christ.
The choice - submitted and surrendered
These men had to choose to be entirely surrendered to David whatever the future might hold of good or ill. It was not for the fainthearted, for the decision would affect their whole direction and destiny. "Choose you this day whom ye will serve" (Josh 24.15).
They could go back to Saul or forward with David. Have we submitted and surrendered to the Lordship of Christ? It is a spiritual choice and Amasai declares by the Spirit, "Thine are we, David, and on thy side, thou son of Jesse: peace, peace be unto thee, and peace be to thine helpers; for thy God helpeth thee". This is a total commitment to David, his helpers, and his God. The application of this to us is plain. "Thine are we": bought with a price and to believe is to belong! "And on thy side": we are serving His cause, fighting His battles, spreading His fame. "Thou son of Jesse": He was the despised and lowly one destined for victory and kingdom glory.
The change - received and rewarded
Such a declaration of dedication delighted David, and he received them warmly and rewarded them by making them captains of the band. This no doubt took time, but David prepared them for higher things as they enjoyed his present grace and anticipated his future glory. We have left the worlds side, changed masters, and are now on the victory side; we have "gathered unto Him", the Captain of our salvation, who is "bringing many sons unto glory" (Heb 2.10). Eventually, David was crowned and these men became "mighty men" and "men of war, that could keep rank with a perfect heart of one heart to make David king". There was feasting and fellowship and great joy in Israel (vv.38-40). What a transformation this brought about in their lives. We too are changed as we continue in the company of our Lord and Master; tasting His grace and expecting His glory.