A Preparedness Story – Gathering Information

You can a learn a lot by reading.  If you’re into preparedness, I’m sure you have a stack of books with practical skills in it, I know I do.

I read the entire Gray Man series by Mark Greaney (www.markgreaneybooks.com if you’re interested), and a few other good pieces of fiction, like Mongol Moon by Mark Sibley (available at amazon.com/Mongol-Moon-Mark-Sibley) that have some good pieces of Tactical Wisdom in them.

However, the Ultimate Tactical Handbook (the Bible) has tons of practical, real-life advice and Tactical Wisdom, and that’s why it’s the basis for this blog.

For example, the story of David is full of action, adventure, spy drama, assassination plots, and even an anti-government militia movement.  Yes, really.

Today, we’re going to discuss a story out of 1 Samuel 23, and the lessons learned about being prepared, staying alive by avoiding contact, gathering (and protecting) information, and using terrain to your advantage.  I bet you didn’t know that any of that was in there.  You’re not alone.

Most people, when you ask them if they’ve heard of David, will mention him being a King, killing a giant, and something about a woman on a rooftop.  That’s the extent most people get from just listening at church.  A friend of mine, when I relayed a tactical truth and adventure story about Joshua, said “Is there some secret section of the Bible that you get this from?”.  Nope, you just have to get outside of conventional teachings and really read.

King David

So, to set the stage, David was a warrior who eventually (yes, after killing a giant) became a senior officer in the military.  However, the King, Saul, began to distrust David and launched a purge of his military, pushing out those he thought were disloyal, including David.

Doesn’t that sound EXACTLY like the environment we’re in today?  Veterans and active military staff being put on “watch lists” or being booted because they aren’t loyal enough to “The Party”?  That’s why the story I’m about to tell you resonated so well.

Secretary “Purge” Austin

Earlier, David had fled, and then found about 600 other men who were also disaffected and tired of the oppressive government at the time.  David organized them into an effective fighting force, and fought off Phillistine invaders, despite their treatment by their own government, upholding their oaths.

As we begin 1 Samuel 23, these men are still honoring their oaths, while being hunted and persecuted by the government they used to serve.  Sound like anything familiar to you?

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Let’s go through the story and discuss the Tactical Wisdom found inside.

David and his group were inside a city that they had just defended from raiders.  When Saul and the government troops learned where they were, they immediately started to head for the city.  The people of the city, despite having just been liberated by David’s troops, immediately informed the King. David heard that the King’s forces were headed his way.  That’s where the first piece of Tactical Wisdom comes from:

So David & his men, about 600 in number,

Left Keilah & kept moving from place to place…

1 Samuel 23:13a

When he knew that remaining in place was going to bring him into direct conflict with a superior force, he chose avoidance over direct conflict.  Notice I said AVOIDANCE and not SUBMISSION.

He continued to lead his men, and they continued to speak out about their issues.

From a preparedness standpoint, if you learn that a large group is headed toward your location, take what you can with you and leave the area, until they are gone.  Your goal is survival, not making a last stand against the forces of evil at the Alamo.  In order to do that, you need to remain always aware, always gathering information on threats, and have your supplies and gear always in a ready-to-move state.

For example, anyone who has served in a combat arms unit knows that anything you take out of your ruck/pack, goes back in immediately after you use it.  You stay packed.  You don’t unpack everything, then leave it out overnight, packing back up in the morning.  That way, if you have to leave on a moment’s notice, you can take everything with you, rather than having to leave things behind.

In a crisis, the ability to move is life, and you should retain that ability at all times.  Remember, you can always come back to a location. Never be so tied to a location that you can’t leave.

My favorite Viking Warrior, Uhtred Ragnarson (The Last Kingdom) puts it this way: “A warrior can only die one time, so he shouldn’t do it foolishly; he should make it count.”

Uthred Ragnarson

After Saul and his forces realized that David and his militia of anti-government extremists (see what I did there) had fled, he set out to try and gather information on their location.  Saul didn’t want to waste resources chasing around random sightings, so here we find the next piece of Tactical Wisdom:

…Go & get more information.

Find out where David usually goes & who has seen him there.”

1 Samuel 23:21b

We can look at Saul’s instructions two ways:

  • Always be in the information gathering business.  Alway seek to understand what your opposition is doing, and who is moving where.
  • Understand that, on the other side of the coin, your opposition is trying to gather information on you, and take steps to minimize what information you give out freely for them to gather (SOCIAL MEDIA).

Understand that information is more valuable than anything else, especially in a crisis.  Information can be anything from the weather forecast to movements of large groups, depending on the situation you find yourself in.  

In a true WROL or SHTF situation, without news or social media feeds, you’ll have to rely on your own information gathering skills, but the good news is that we’ve possessed these skills for as long as man has walked this earth.  Get out and patrol your local area.  Talk to people.  Go to places where people gather, like a market, and just LISTEN.  Ask questions. Set up Observation Posts.

The key lesson is to always be seeking information, while at the same time guarding your own information tightly.  We all like to get on the internet boards and chat with like-minded people, but are you sure of everyone in “Ultra-Cool-Guy Super-Prepared-Prepper” group on Facebook?  By sharing how many rounds of ammo and how many cans of food you have stored, you’re making yourself a target.

An example is people showing off their “hidden can storage” ideas.  While it’s very helpful, you’re also telling people where to search in your house after they’ve killed you for your food.  I know, you’re going to say there isn’t anyone like that in MY group.  You’re right, there isn’t TODAY.  But after 3 weeks with no power, and the kids haven’t eaten in 6 days, you’d be surprised at what people will do.  Guard your plans from prying eyes.

Once Saul began gathering information, he sent out another request to his spies, which is another piece of Tactical Wisdom:

Find out about all the hiding places he uses

And come back to me with definite information.

1 Samuel 23:23a

Again, this applies to not sharing your plans with the general public.  Keep the people who know all of your preparations and plans to the smallest number possible.   The time to do this is NOW, as well as when a crisis happens.  

The other side of this piece is that when you get a piece of information, confirm it, like Saul instructed (“Come back to me with definite information”).  Gathering and acting on false information is a waste of time.

Even worse, it could all be a set-up, if you don’t confirm it.  Imagine you’re in a WROL situation, and your bug out location is secure, real solid.  Someone knows that, so they plant some false information, which causes you to leave your location to go act on it.  Now, your cool stash is less well-defended.  Confirm information before acting on it.

Here’s an example from the COVID lockdowns.  When the lockdowns began, rumors were flying about military checkpoints and roadblocks.  What would have happened if you decided to max out your credit cards in a final buying rush, only to find out there were no roadblocks, the restrictions weren’t as bad as the rumors said, and you’d be locked down without work for 10 months, needing that available credit for other uses?  Many people did just that.

Tactically, seek to confirm all information, and understand that someone will always be working to confirm information on you, as well, so work to guard against it.

Getting back to our story, Saul nailed down the location of David and his militia of anti-government extremists (yes, I’m doing it again) and began to close in on him.  David got wind of it, through his own information collection means, and immediately took flight:

Saul was going along one side of the mountain, 

And David & his men were on the other side, 

Hurrying to get away from Saul.

1 Samuel 23:26

There is a lot of good Tactical Wisdom in this one.  Let’s break it down.

First, as mentioned before, never be so tied to a location, especially in a WROL situation, that you can’t get up and move at a moment’s notice.  Yes, we make plans to defend ourselves, but we do that so that we can SURVIVE, not be killed in a fight we can’t win.

Second, always be gathering information, patrolling, and watching, so that you aren’t surprised and so that you can avoid negative situations.  

Third, David kept a terrain feature between him and the opposing force, denying them the ability to engage and destroy David’s smaller force.  Learn to use terrain to your advantage.  

Again, David used the terrain to AVOID a fight.  Remember our ultimate goal is NOT to fight a guerrilla war, it’s long-term survival.  We’ll fight if we must, but on our terms, not the other side’s.

Lastly, it’s important to note that it says “hurrying” and not “rushing”.  When trying to avoid contact, the tendency is to move faster than you really should.  Faster movement is louder and movement draws the eye.  Move quickly, but without rushing.  Rushing also causes you to move faster than you can realistically secure.  Move at rate where you can still stop and hide if you encounter another potentially hostile party. In a WROL situation, every party is potentially hostile.  

Avoidance is better than a fight, but if I have no choice other than to fight, I’d rather do the ambush, than be ambushed, and rushing will run you right into an ambush.

This brings us to the end of this tale.  I know, it’s like a Lord of The Rings movie, ending right in the middle of a chase scene, right?  To find out what happens next, check out my older post titled “Tactics – David in the Desert of Ziph”.

I hope this adventure story and analysis helps you plan and prepare.

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Published by JD

I am the author of the Tactical Wisdom Series. I am a personal protection specialist and a veteran of the US Marine Corps. I conduct preparedness and self-defense training.

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