In chapter 30 of the book of 1 Samuel, we find David in troublesome circumstances. The Amalekites have taken advantage of David’s absence by raiding Ziklag, setting the city on fire and taking all the wives, sons, and daughters captive, including two of David’s own wives. David raises his voice with the people, and they weep bitterly “until they had no more strength to weep.” (1 Sam 30:4)
But, things are about to go from bad to worse for David. In the midst of his suffering he discovers that his own people want to stone him. In their misery and bitterness, they forget God and lash out at David, blaming him for the calamity.
And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and his daughters…(1 Sam 30:6a)
What was David’s response?
…But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. (1 Sam 30:6b)
Four things I can learn from 1 Samuel 30 verse 6:
1. But David…
Remember the “but principle.”
I am a sinner, but Christ died for me. (Rom 5:8)
I often do the very thing I hate, but there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Rom 7:15; 8:1)
I am unlovable, but God loves me. (Psalm 36:7; John 3:16; Rom 8:38-39).
I need a savior, but I have one in Christ. (John 10:9; Acts 2:21)
I lack wisdom, but my God gives wisdom liberally. (James 1:5, James 3:17)
Here in 1 Samuel, observe what David does as he finds himself in mortal danger of being stoned by the people:
2. …David strengthened himself…
David takes decisive action. His responds to a perilous situation by making a decision to do something about it. His state of affairs is distressing. The city is burning and his wives have been taken captive. A murderous crowd surrounds him.
But David is able to steel himself. Turmoil is all around him, yet his heart does not melt, and his courage does not fail.
Why? How is it that David is able to strengthen himself, a herculean effort considering the circumstances.
3. …David strengthened himself in the LORD…
David turns to God.
David knows where to find strength: The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts and I am helped…(Ps 28:7)
David knows he can trust in the Lord: … but we trust in the LORD our God. (Ps. 20:7)
David trusts and does not fear: The LORD is my Shepherd…though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…you are with me…(Ps 23)
David had learned that God is a giver of needed strength:
And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Sam 17:37)
How is it that David has gained such valuable experience in knowing God?
4. …David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
The words “my God” infer relationship. Yahweh was not just another god, David knew him as my God, my help, my strength. David’s knowledge of God was not mere intellectual ascent, but rather, it was based on a relational, experiential connection with the One, True, Living God.
David knew God as his King. (Ps 5:2)
David knew God in such a way that he could put his trust in Him and that his God would not forsake him. (Ps 9:10)
David confesses his trust in his God. (Ps 31:14)
David speaks of a personal relationship with his God:
I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Ps 18:1-2)
David strengthens Himself in the Lord his God and so encourages us to do the same.
Lord, in the midst of suffering and distress, give me a heart that trusts in you. Remind me to act decisively and with courage, responding to the truth that you are my help and in you alone will I find my strength. Let my response to life’s tribulations be worthy of the Gospel that has made me your own. Thank you for the example of David. Amen!
by His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel