The Responsibility of Wealth

Spoils of War

With great blessing comes great responsibility. The more money we have, the more that God expects us to put our funds to good work.

Wealth is a funny thing. You work hard your whole life and accumulate money by the sweat of your brow. It’s easy to think that because you earned that money yourself, you’re entitled to spend it all on yourself. But that’s not how God sees it: God seems to think that everything we have really comes from Him, and He wants us to use our blessings to bless other people.

Recently we’ve been studying a lot of the philosophical underpinnings of wealth. We’ve talked about how money comes from serving people, and discussed the fact that we shouldn’t be ashamed of our wealth, because financial blessing brings God glory. But along with all of that blessing comes responsibility: God expects us to put our wealth back into His service, and to use the blessings that He has given us to bless other people.

There are a number of places that we can turn to in Scripture that support this idea, and we’ve referenced several of them before on this site. Today, though, I want to look at an interesting example of a godly response to prosperity that we find in the life of David. In II Samuel 8 and 9, we learn about King David’s conquests in battle, the spoils that he brought home, and what he did with them. Let’s start by looking at II Samuel 8:6-12, which describes David’s plunder and what he did with it:

He put garrisons in the Aramean kingdom of Damascus, and the Arameans became subject to him and brought tribute. The Lord gave David victory wherever he went.

David took the gold shields that belonged to the officers of Hadadezer and brought them to Jerusalem. From Tebah[a] and Berothai, towns that belonged to Hadadezer, King David took a great quantity of bronze.

When Tou[b] king of Hamath heard that David had defeated the entire army of Hadadezer, 10 he sent his son Joram[c] to King David to greet him and congratulate him on his victory in battle over Hadadezer, who had been at war with Tou. Joram brought with him articles of silver, of gold and of bronze.

11 King David dedicated these articles to the Lord, as he had done with the silver and gold from all the nations he had subdued: 12 Edom[d] and Moab, the Ammonites and the Philistines, and Amalek. He also dedicated the plunder taken from Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah.

There are several interesting things to note here. First is the source of David’s success — verse 6 says that “The Lord gave David victory wherever he went.” David recognized that his success came not from his own genius or the strength of his army, but from the hand of God.

Next, we get a list of all the kinds of things that David won in battle. He captured “a great quantity of bronze,” and many other “articles of silver, gold and bronze.”  He took plunder from the army of Hadadezer, as well as from “Edom, Moab, the Ammonites and the Philistines, and Amalek.”

David’s military victories brought him a lot of financial reward, and as a king in that time, he had a royal right to claim all of that plunder for himself. But because he recognized God as the source of his success, he didn’t use this wealth to increase his own standard of living. Rather, he dedicated it all to the Lord (v. 11).

We reach the first key in our lesson here: Everything that we have comes from God. Even when we work hard, take risks, accomplish big victories and get a big payoff, we must recognize that those successes aren’t our own. The credit belongs to God. Thus, when we are blessed with wealth, we are obligated to dedicate that wealth back to the Lord. After all, He is the source of it to begin with.

The second part of our lesson comes in the following chapter, II Samuel 9. After having returned from war, David looks for someone to bless out of the abundance that he has received. We’ll look at II Samuel 9:3-7, which tells about David blessing a descendant of Saul:

The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”

Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.”

“Where is he?” the king asked.

Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.”

So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.

When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor.

David said, “Mephibosheth!”

“At your service,” he replied.

“Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”

From the beginning of this passage, we see David’s motivation in blessing Mephibosheth. It’s not just a matter of guilt or nostalgia; rather, David wants to find someone to “show God’s kindness.” Out of the blessing that he has received from the Lord, David wants to bless someone else.

When David finds the right person, he gives to him lavishly, both with real estate and with status. Mephibosheth was a miserable figure, the crippled grandson of a defeated king. Yet David gave him a seat at his royal table. He made him an important person in Israel. He  looked at a nobody, and said “I am going to make you somebody.”

And so the second key of the lesson is this: When we are blessed by God, we have an obligation to show His kindness to other people. We have a duty to bless the people around us. We have a charge to find the people that society has left behind, to take care of their needs, and to give them a seat at the table. God blesses us so that we can find these nobodies and make them somebodies again.

In our wealthy Western culture, we are all very blessed, even in the moments when we feel lack. Let’s never forget the responsibilities that come with wealth: When God blesses us, we dedicate our resources back to Him, and then use them to uplift and bless other people.


Photo by Theodore Scott. Used under Creative Commons License.

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