Strengthened in the Lord

Strengthened in the Lord

    Job, Noah, Elijah, Abraham and Sarah, Joseph, Esther, Daniel, Moses, Joshua, Mary, Jesus Christ—these men and women all stood for God but faced seemingly insurmountable challenges. Despite all odds, however, they waxed valiant to achieve victory because they strengthened themselves in the Lord God.
    David is also a vivid example of a believer who stood for God. He trusted God and sought His will for direction and deliverance. God’s Word says that in the midst of major conflict, “David encouraged [strengthened] himself in the Lord his God” (I Samuel 30:6). In looking at a series of challenging events in David’s life, we will see some principles he applied to strengthen himself in the Lord, break through the strongholds of his attackers, and emerge victorious. Today, we are those men and women who stand for God. As we continue to strengthen ourselves in the Lord, we too are able to confront any challenge, overcome every obstacle, and courageously obtain victory in our lives.
    Before we get into this record of David’s deliverance, let’s look at some background information that will help us increase our Biblical understanding of the events recorded in I Samuel.
    I Samuel tells us about Saul, king of Israel, and his relentless pursuit of David. Saul envied David’s exploits and grew suspicious that David wanted to overthrow his rulership. After David’s victory over the Philistines, the women of Israel greeted Saul by singing, “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” Saul “eyed David from that day and forward” (I Samuel 18:6-9). Saul’s thinking deteriorated to the point that he sought to kill David.
    Chapter 22 of I Samuel records information regarding David’s successful escape from his pursuers and the gathering of his army.
I Samuel 22:1:
David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard
it, they went down thither to him.
    David, his brothers, and his father’s house initially found refuge in Adullam, a large cave located in the wild, rugged, and cavernous mountain region of Judah. They were all in danger of being killed by Saul, who was determined to slay David and thus get rid of his perceived rival.
I Samuel 22:2:
And every one
that was in distress [anguish], and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented [bitter or angry], gathered themselves unto him [David]; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.
    Later about two hundred more men joined David’s army, bringing it to a body of about six hundred veteran warriors (I Samuel 23:13). Certainly they were a force to be considered in trying times.
    After a period of time, David escaped to the Philistine city of Gath to avoid perishing at the hand of Saul. There he and his men dwelled with Achish, the king of Gath, and they also brought their wives and children with them.
I Samuel 27:1 and 2:
And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul:
there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand.
And David arose, and he passed over with the six hundred men that
were with him unto Achish, the son of Maoch, king of Gath.
    Now, David had a history with the Philistines. The Israelites and the Philistines had been enemies and had fought against one another. Also Goliath, a giant of Gath serving in the Philistine army, was slain by David. These events would make David’s relationship with King Achish and the Philistines a precarious one, to say the least. Eventually David was able to gain Achish’s trust as a result of his service to him, and David was given the town of Ziklag, a frontier village situated on the Judean/Philistine border, in which he and his army and their families could live. Achish counted on David and his army to strike at Philistia’s enemies from this position.
    Another indicator of Achish’s trust in David was that he later gave him a place of honor as captain of his bodyguard (I Samuel 28:2). In I Samuel 29, David and his army traveled with Achish and the Philistine forces to Aphek, where they prepared for a battle against the Israelites. Even though David was held in high regard by Achish, the captains of the Philistine army feared that David and his men would make a last-minute change of loyalties and fight on the side of the Israelites led by King Saul. As a result, David was dismissed from his position of being the captain of the king’s bodyguard and was sent back to Ziklag (I Samuel 29:4).
I Samuel 30:1 and 2:
And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire;
And had taken the women captives, that
were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way.
    After traveling three days across the arid, dusty land to Ziklag, David and his army discovered that the Amalekites, Israel’s bitter foe throughout the Old Testament, had captured and burned the city and carried away their belongings and their families—their wives, their sons, and their daughters. What a devastating blow this must have been. No doubt they were exhausted from the length and difficulty of the trip only to arrive and find that their loved ones had been kidnapped and their material goods had been robbed by these archenemies of Israel.
I Samuel 30:4:
Then David and the people that
were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.
    Their grief and frustration and anger must have been intense. David, who was full of sorrow as well, had to endure additional mental pressure from his own people. David knew he needed God’s help to get through this emotionally charged situation. Now we see the principles David applied to receive deliverance in this time of need.
I Samuel 30:6:
And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.

    Things had deteriorated to the point that his own people wanted to stone him. What was David’s reaction to this heart-wrenching situation? The Word says he “encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” The word “encouraged” means “strengthened.” He poured his heart out before God, seeking refuge in the shelter of His love and protection. After all, David had faced lions and bears, giants, and armies of enemies. He knew with unwavering certainty that in every situation he could call on the Lord, and God would deliver him once again. David knew God would not leave him nor fail him….

This is an excerpt from the July/August 2005 issue of The Way Magazine.
Copyright© 2005 by The Way International. All rights reserved.
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