STRENGTH IN THE LORD
Lord God, you are Creator, Redeemer, and King. May my worship today be worthy of you. Guide me in your way.
Read 1 SAMUEL 30:1-15
David Destroys the Amalekites
30 David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, 2 and had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way.
3 When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. 5 David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 6 David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.
7 Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, 8 and David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?”
“Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”
9 David and the six hundred men with him came to the Besor Valley, where some stayed behind. 10 Two hundred of them were too exhausted to cross the valley, but David and the other four hundred continued the pursuit.
11 They found an Egyptian in a field and brought him to David. They gave him water to drink and food to eat— 12 part of a cake of pressed figs and two cakes of raisins. He ate and was revived, for he had not eaten any food or drunk any water for three days and three nights.
13 David asked him, “Who do you belong to? Where do you come from?”
He said, “I am an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite. My master abandoned me when I became ill three days ago. 14 We raided the Negev of the Kerethites, some territory belonging to Judah and the Negev of Caleb. And we burned Ziklag.”
15 David asked him, “Can you lead me down to this raiding party?”
He answered, “Swear to me before God that you will not kill me or hand me over to my master, and I will take you down to them.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.’1
How we respond to adversity, whether illness, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or anything else, is a good indication of what we are made of. David arrives back home only to find his city burned and empty… of goods and people (v 3). It is providential that he returns early and the fact that no corpses litter the streets may give his troops some hope (prisoners of war were sometimes kept as slaves),2 but the overall mood is of bitter distress. David himself has lost his two wives and people are ready to stone him (vs 5,6).
Given Saul’s previous record, he would probably have given in to pressure and started a headlong pursuit of the Amalekites. David, however, turns to the Lord first. Even before seeking guidance, ‘he strengthened himself in the Lord’, as the Hebrew reads literally (v 6).3 Reminding ourselves of God’s character and what he did for us earlier helps us to find our center in him and put our trust in him. Confidence in the Lord enables David to delay further and seek the Lord’s guidance (vs 7,8).
Once he is promised divine support, he sets out with his men, but soon a third of his troops flag en route (no wonder, since they have already traveled for three days to get back to Ziklag; v 1) and have to be left behind (vs 9,10). This leaves four hundred men who will be considerably outnumbered. We are reminded of Gideon’s troops being diminished so that it might be clear that victory is not by human power.4 Providentially, David’s men stumble upon an abandoned slave who can lead them to the Amalekite camp. God does not disappoint those who seek him with trust and faithfulness.
Reflect on aspects of God’s character and think of occasions when you have experienced these in the past. Make it a habit to remember the kind of God we serve.
Almighty God, I exchange my weakness for your strength. I seek you first rather than relying on my abilities. Thank you Lord.
1 Ps 28:7 2 Eg 2 Kings 5:2 3 NIV’s ‘David found strength’ is too passive 4 Judg 7:2
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