So the king set out, with all the people following him, and they halted at the edge of the city. All his men marched past him, along with all the Kerethites and Pelethites; and all the six hundred Gittites who had accompanied him from Gath marched before the king. The king saId to Ittai the Gittite, ‘’Why should you come along with us? Go back and stay with King Absalom. You are a foreigner, an exile from your homeland. You came only yesterday. And today shall I make you wander about with us, when I do not know where I am going? Go back, and take your people with you. May the LORD show you kindness and faithfulness.’’ But Ittai replied to the king, ‘’As surely as the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be.’’ David said to Ittai, ‘’Go ahead, march on.’’ So Ittai the Gittite marched on with all his men and the families that were with him. 2 Samuel 15:17-22.
Ittai was one of six hundred Philistine soldiers who had joined David’s personal military force. This was distinct from the regular military force of Israel, many of whom had joined forces with Absalom the rebel. Ittai was the commander of the Gittite forces and David felt it was unfair for him to be thrown into the same uncertain future he was facing.
Again we see the true heart of David as a man after God’s own heart. Six hundred men ready to fight and support him could mean a lot for a fallen leader; but even in his difficulties, David looked beyond his personal needs and showed concern for the plight of others. But Ittai responded: ‘’ . . . Wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be.’’ That was the height of loyalty.The true test of loyalty is not found in our readiness to stick with someone when things are going well. The true test of loyalty is our preparedness to stick with a leader, or for that matter anyone, even when their future is bleak and uncertain. That’s what Ittai did. He jeopardized his own future to stick with David. He was loyal.
Husbands and wives sometimes divorce their spouses when those spouses fall sick or experience hard times. Sometimes wives are divorced because they are unable to bear children. Sometimes wives divorce husbands because their financial fortunes have plummeted. When challenges come, one partner simply walks away because they are not loyal enough.
David faced a very uncertain future. There was absolutely no guarantee that he would survive the rebellion from Absalom. There was no guarantee that there would be food to eat, clothes to wear, or even plain safety for anyone who chose to follow him into exile. But Ittai was willing to brave the odds. That was the height of loyalty. He was willing to take chances with an uncertain future. An interesting thing is that Ittai was a foreigner. There is no telling whom God may use to bless you. It could be a man, a woman, a child, a youth, a neighbor or even a foreigner!
No one knows what the future holds except the Almighty God. But whatever situation you encounter in the future, may God give you an Ittai who would be willing to stick with you. May God give you a trustworthy, loyal and faithful person to stick with you and encourage you. May God bring you an Ittai with his whole entourage to uphold you. God will see you through your situation. Keep a good heart; and keep pressing on.
Prayer: Father, I thank you that even in the deepest valleys of life, I can count on your faithfulness. I ask that you send me some loyal people who will encourage me and I pray that you will also use me loyally to encourage others. Amen.