David was an exile in Philistia. He had managed to successfully dupe Achish, King of Gath, for years into thinking that he had become an enemy of Israel and a friend of Philistia. Achish grew to trust and appreciate David and made him his bodyguard. Finally, the inevitable clash between Philistia and Israel came to a head as the Philistines marched out to battle with Israel. Achish obviously wanted David—this war machine—by his side in the fray but, by God’s grace, David and his men were rejected by the lords of the Philistines who were flabbergasted that Achish would even consider including David in the muster. God had just gotten David out of a real bind through that rejection.
So David and his men returned home only to find a nightmare in Ziklag. The Amelekites had raided their city and taken captive their wives, sons, and daughters, and burned everything else with fire. Distraught, David and his men wept until they had no more strength to weep.
Then, as if the situation wasn’t hard enough already, something happened to make things really start to unravel. David was their leader and, as such, was responsible for them being away with the uncircumcised Philistines when they could have been home defending their own. The men started to speak of stoning David. Not only was he dealing with the threat of an ignoble demise; he was also, no doubt, struggling with temptation to guilt and despair.
“But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God” (1 Samuel 30:6).
David remembered God’s faithfulness in times past. He remembered his promise to make him king. And so he acted in accordance with his confidence. He exercised real faith. He didn’t fight back, defending himself and his honour to his men. He didn’t try to evade responsibility, making excuses. And he didn’t give in to the whispers of despair. No, he turned to God and drew strength from the LORD. He prayed, asking for guidance, and then, with the strength God gave him, he was able to inspire confidence in his exhausted, mutinous men and lead them out into battle with the Amalekite raiders to successfully rescue their wives and children.
Here we see David as a man who was able to feel deep anguish. We see that he was not exempt from distress, sorrow, and calamity. But we also see that he knew how to respond to hard providences. We see exactly what made him great. It wasn’t that he was some sort of Marvel Captain Israel™ with vast reserves of inner strength. He drew strength from his God. And he did so no by osmosis or assuming the lotus position in mindfulness meditation. He did it by prayer and remembering the promises and faithfulness of God. And then he acted in courageous faith. Family, go and do likewise, and may God give us strength!