David had hit rock bottom.
Life was not easy for David. Though anointed the next king of Israel, David, had a long and difficult wait for the throne. For years, David was a fugitive, fleeing for his life, from King Saul. Saul who had once been extremely grateful to the hero who slew the giant Goliath had overnight turned into this green-eyed monster whose single-minded purpose became to kill the very same David. And so, David was on the run.
Life was not fair to David either. He was on the run, for no fault of his. David had not done anything that deserved being hunted down by Saul. He had not wronged or disrespected King Saul. And yet, Saul was hell-bent on killing him and David was forced to run.
In this passage, we find David and his men in Philistine, the land of the enemy of the Israelites, the one place where Saul could not reach them. They did not just live there but were also part of the army and willing to even fight against their own people, the Israelites. But the commanders of the Philistine army summarily dismissed them, questioning their loyalty.
Rather hurt and smarting from this dismissal, David and his men return to their homes in Ziglag, only to find that the place had been burned down by the Amalekites, and their wives and children were taken captive. This was the proverbial last straw on the camel’s back. David and his men just could not take anymore. Their pain was inexplicable. They were so done. They were so sad and broken that the Bible says they cried until they did not have the strength to cry anymore (1 Samuel 30:4). Ever been there?
These men who had already come to the end of their tether had to now respond to yet another painful and difficult reality. Have you noticed, often it is when we think we can take no more that we find ourselves up against yet another challenge? And respond, they did. David’s men in their bitter grief turn against their leader, wanting even to stone him, blaming him for their losses (1 Samuel 30:6). David on the other hand, the Bible says, encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord.
The pain of the men was real. They sure had had more than their share of challenges. Being angry and bitter about their situations was only natural, one would think. Difficult situations and difficult people who make our lives painful are realities that each of us lives with regularly. And yet, how we choose to respond is up to us. Bitterness is the feeling of anger and resentment at being treated unfairly. In their pain and deep sorrow, the men blame David, who himself was hurting also. David instead chose to intentionally and determinedly turn his eyes from the realities around him to the One who alone was able to change his realities.
To encourage ourselves in the Lord, when life is handing us challenge after challenge, is far from easy. And yet, when we choose to move from the what to the Who of the situation, we move into a place of victory, for the Lord will fight our battles. To encourage ourselves in the Lord is to remind ourselves intentionally of all that the Bible says about our amazing God and to agree. It is to fix our eyes on the Lord who alone is able, and can enable us to walk on stormy waters.
Are you in a place of pain today? Does life seem unfair? Are you bearing the brunt of the mistakes of others? Do the waves of bitterness, anger, and pain threaten to overcome you? Would you choose the high road instead and encourage yourself in the Lord? Knowing it is well, trusting Him to bring beauty out of the ashes?