How can you strengthen or encourage yourself in the Lord? What should you remember about God’s sovereignty, goodness, justice, and mercy? How might God be using this for good so that as Romans 8.29 says, you can become more like Christ?
1 Samuel 29, 30 & 31
When You’re at Your Wits’ End
1 Samuel 29, 30 & 31:
A Man after God’s Own Heart … Are You Kidding?
What was David thinking?! Wanting to join the Philistines and go to war against Israel! God used the princes of the other Philistine clans to prevent him from doing such a foolish thing.
But God wanted to get David’s undivided attention. So while he was off involved in a situation in which he should never have been involved, God allowed the Amalekites to burn down his city and carry off all the women and children.
“… they did not kill anyone, but carried them away …” (v. 30.2).
God would allow them to recover their families, all their possessions, and even take the spoil of the Amalekites. But David and his men didn’t yet know the outcome. They came home tired and anxious to see their wives and children only to find the city burned and their families gone. After they wept over their losses, their emotions turned to anger against David.
Matthew Henry in his commentary on the Bible says they had joined David because they believed he would become king and they expected to all be princes by now. Instead, it looked like they had lost everything. Their grief was coupled with discontent, impatience and disappointment over their unmet desires. To quote Henry, “Their own discontent and impatience added wormwood and gall to the affliction and misery, and made their case doubly grievous.”
At His Wits’ End
David, on the other hand, demonstrated what made him “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Sam. 13.14). He didn’t turn on his men. He didn’t point out their wrongs. He didn’t give in to fear over their threats. Instead, he “strengthened himself in the LORD his God” (30.6) and sought His counsel (30.7-8).
He remembered God’s sovereignty, His goodness, His justice, and His mercy. He believed what the Apostle Paul described in Romans 8.28:
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
To quote Henry once again, “When he was at his wits’ end, he was not at his faith’s end.”
And in the meantime, Saul and his three sons died in battle. David, even with all his shortcomings, was, indeed, about to become king.
How Did David Strengthen Himself in the Lord?
We don’t know specifically what David thought about during that time. But I imagine he reflected on all the times God had protected and provided for him. Did he think about his years as a shepherd boy and how God gave him the strength to kill the bear and the lion? Did he think about the time he went up against Goliath, or how God had given him victory in battle, or how God protected him from Saul? Did he think about Samuel anointing him king?
Whatever he thought about, somehow, he strengthened or, as one translation says, encouraged himself in the Lord.
When You’re at Your Wits’ End
How have you seen God move in the past? What testimonies have you heard? What stories have you read in the Bible?
For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Rom. 15.4).
Get familiar with the stories of people in the Bible. Genesis alone is packed with the stories of real life people, who struggled and sinned and were sinned against and whose lives we can learn by. I wrote about many of those stories earlier this year as I went through Genesis. Go back through the January and February posts and choose one that speaks to you.
Here is a Sampling:
Today’s Other Readings:
Vows and Promises
Verse 5a, “For You, O God, have heard my vows …”
God hears our vows and promises whether they are made directly to Him or to someone else. God’s word says, “… let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No,’ lest you fall into judgment” (Jas. 5.12). That should be all the reason we need to be men and women of our word.
Verse 9, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.”
We make our plans, hopefully with God’s guidance, but just as it was with David, God is still in control and it’s His plans which will stand.
Less of Us & More of Him
Verse 30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
This should be our desire, as well. As we grow in our walk with the Lord, those around us should see more and more of Him and less and less of us!
What About You? Questions to Ponder or Journal:
How can you strengthen or encourage yourself in the Lord? What should you remember about God’s sovereignty, goodness, justice, and mercy? How might God be using this for good so that as Romans 8.29 says, you can become more like Christ? How can this help you to decrease so that He might increase?
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