From the top, to the bottom, to the top.

1 Samuel: Chapter 29 and 30

So far as we look at the story of David, one of the main themes is that God is in complete control of David and his path to the crown.  This is going to be extremely relevant to our story today.  We pick up in chapter 29.  If you remember from last week, David is now working behind enemy lines.  He is serving as a bodyguard and as a military leader for the Philistines.  While David has had to do some pretty tough things to this point, he is about to be faced with one of the toughest tasks to this point.  Our story picks up with the Philistines heading to battle with Saul and the Israelites.  While battles between these two were not uncommon, what is really worth our attention is that for the first time David is fighting on the side of the Philistines. The same David that destroyed the giant Goliath, is now going against his people and his king.  Imagine the stress that David must have been under during this time.  We know that he still had great loyalty towards Saul despite being pursued by him all this time.  So it is not as if David would have been itching at another chance to kill Saul seeing as he has already had two perfect opportunities. Despite the fact that David probably did not want to go to battle against his people, he was prepared to do it anyways.  Lucky for him though, some of the Philistine commanders express hesitation about David and his men being a part of their army. They are worried that they will turn on them as a way to prove their loyalty to Saul.  Though Achish, the leader, finds no fault in David or his men, he decides to send them home in order to ease the minds of his army.  What is interesting is that David actually contests this. He argues that he should be allowed to fight for his current ruler.  However, David ultimately goes home and does not fight.  While this may seem like a chapter where nothing really happens, this is a great example of God being in control.  If you were with us last week, you will remember that Saul was told that he and his sons would die in battle, the same battle where David would have been fighting with the Philistines.  Had things been normal and David would have fought against Saul and then rose to power, it would have seemed as if David was a conqueror and became king through military might.  His reputation in battle was already well known so it would not have been hard for people to make the connection between a battle in which Saul dies and its relation to David rising to power.  This would have served as a distraction from what really happened, that God placed David in power.  David not fighting in this battle was paramount to God being the one who is recognized as raising David to the throne.  So while this may seem like a throw away story, it is actually very important for recognizing that God is in control in all circumstances.   

One of the greatest fallacies that we can buy into as Christians is that once we dedicate our lives to God, everything will be smooth sailing. 

As young people in your late teens and early 20’s, I am sure that you have experienced what I am talking about.  As we will see in this chapter, Chapter 30, David is no exception.  David has just been sent home and is spared from having to fight against Saul and his people.  Instead of having a peaceful night at home, David and his men are smacked in the face with a very different reality. When they get to Ziklag, they see that the Amalekites have not only destroyed the city, but have taken all of the women as their captives.  To make matters worse, David’s men are so upset that they consider stoning him.  Following David being sent out on his own, things have been relatively good.  His trajectory has always been up.  But now, he is faced with the bitter reality that being a man after God’s own heart still opens him up to the unpredictability of the world that we live in.  If you remember last week we talked about the difficulty of David’s situation.  It is almost as if he is doing something wrong but for the right reasons and without repercussions.  However, this week we see that eventually, what goes around comes around.  David is now faced with the reality of his situation.  All of his plundering and killing has come back to bite him.  What is even worse, is that the Amalekites seem to show even more mercy than David as David was known for killing all in the places he invaded as to where the Amalekites left the women alive.  To add insult to injury, now the people who have been following David’s every move are now starting to turn on him. Not only has David gotten a taste of his own medicine, but he is right back where he started at the beginning; alone. One of the most pivotal verses in this chapter is the end of verse 6 when it says, “But David found strength in the Lord God”.  I think this was a very difficult way for David to reset his gears.  It is unfortunate that things happened the way that they happened but at the very least David regained something that perhaps he had begun to lose, his total reliance on God.  Once he found his strength in God again, David set out to right the wrongs that were around him. 

It is no secret that times are crazy right now.  Maybe it has really affected your relationship with God.  Maybe some personal issues have made matters worse.  Perhaps it is time to reset the way that David did.  Remind yourself that when things come down around you, it is God that remains there and through Him you will find your strength.  

So David takes some of his men and chases after the Amalekites.  On their way they find an Egyptian man who was all alone.  They fed him and gave him water and asked who he was and why he was there.  To their amazement, he was a servant of one of the Amalekites who destroyed David’s home.  I can only imagine the rage that David felt in that moment.  It would be extremely hard to exhibit control but that is exactly what David does.  Rather than killing someone responsible for the terror that they witnessed, David has the man bring them to the camp of the Amalekites.  When they find the camp, David and his men attack and not only reclaim their possessions and people, but claim the extra spoils that come with taking over another nation.  Amazingly, the spoils are enough to repay the people who have helped David and his group along the way.  It is insane to think about the progression of this story.  David goes from on top, to the bottom, and back on top again in the matter of one chapter.  This seems very fitting to real life.  One minute we are up and the next we are down and it just continues like that over and over again.  What I want you to remember is that it was not until David refocused on the Lord that he was able to move back up.  David’s story starts because of his total reliance on God and this chapter here serves as a reminder that this is the only way to move through life and navigate the highs and lows that come.         

-Sean   

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