The fame of David will probably continue for as long as the world does, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to swap lives with him. Of the various highs and lows of the life of David, perhaps the lowest point comes in 1 Samuel 30:1-6. By this point, Saul’s paranoia has driven David out of Israel entirely, even though he has done nothing wrong. In the previous chapter, David’s new overlord, Achish king of Gath, shows that he doesn’t trust David either, even though David once again has done nothing wrong. This does not bode well for David’s future with Achish!
When David and his men return from their failed attempt at mustering with the Philistines, they discover that their home city, Ziklag, has been sacked by the Amalekites and its inhabitants (everybody’s wives and children) carried captive.
For a third time, this isn’t David’s fault, but the band of outlaws he leads doesn’t see it that way. As the first part of 1 Samuel 30:6 reports, “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 daughters.” (Apparently, they didn’t miss their wives.) Basically, at this point, nobody likes David, and even his own men want to kill him.
This is the kind of outcome that might have driven David to despair. What about God’s promise to him? What about the weary years of fleeing from Saul? Has it all been for nothing? Even somebody as tough-minded as David might have wondered if keeping on was worth it.
However, David doesn’t give into despair. Instead, the text tells us that “he strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” His own strength might not have been adequate to sustain him, but God’s strength was.
Because he perseveres, his fortunes see a steep upward ascent. Within verses, David’s men reclaim their families and possessions. Within chapters, David is made king over Israel.
Sometimes, we have ruins-of-Ziklag moments. Things aren’t going our way, and they haven’t been going our way. People we thought we could count on have proven unreliable. Doors that we thought were open have slammed in our face. At times like that, it can be easy to give up—give up on those difficult relationships, give up on doing the right thing because keep on getting clobbered for it, maybe even give up on serving God.
When we start feeling that way, we too need to strengthen ourselves in the Lord our God. We need to strengthen ourselves through prayer by asking His help. We need to strengthen ourselves by repeating his promises.
Most of all, perhaps, we need to strengthen ourselves by recalling His faithfulness. God was faithful to David. The apparently failed hill chieftain was destined for glory as Israel’s greatest king. He was faithful to all the other godly men and women of the Bible. We can even recount the ways that He has been faithful to us. I’ve been through some hard times in my life, but God has never let me down yet! In these things, we can find what we need to go on, and if we go on, sooner or later, we will triumph.