There are seasons in life when circumstances overwhelm us, exhaust us, and leave us grasping for hope. In those times temptation stalks us– perhaps to work harder using activity to numb the inner pain; perhaps with the choice to engage in destructive behavior. Christians might choose to become hyper-religious, hiding their true emotions in churchy cliches. What I know for certain is that despair is fertile soil for weeds like rage, stupidity, and short-sighted decisions! We are not helpless victims, however.
I love the stories of David, who in spite of the promises of God, knew real hardship. After Samuel anointed him as the next king of Israel his fame grew in the nation and he became a hero to thousands. This provoked a jealous rage in King Saul that literally drove him to insanity. Saul pursued David, seeking to kill him. As a result he existed on the fringe of society, attracting men of dubious distinction who formed a quasi-military force serving as private security at the kingdom’s frontiers.
For a time, David and his men moved to the neighboring region of Philistia and served in the employ of the king of the region. They were sent out as raiders and kept a portion of what they found as their pay. One of the saddest episodes of his life came during one of their campaigns.
Amalekites raided the village of Ziglag, where the wives and children of David and his men were living. Let’s pick up the story from the Bible. “When (they) saw the ruins and realized what had happened to their families, they wept until they could weep no more. David’s two wives, Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel, were among those captured. David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him.” (1 Samuel 30:3-7, NLT)
With the smoking ruins of Ziglag in front of him, his wives gone, and the accusatory shouts of his men raining down on him, despair crashed down on David. Where was God? Why was all this happening? There is a powerful statement about what he did next –
“David found strength in the Lord his God.” He did not get drunk! He did not rage at the world. He didn’t look for someone to blame. He stepped away from the noisy shouts of his enraged men and looked to Heaven. It is not hard to imagine him taking his harp and finding a place alone outside of town, where he sang to God and asked for both help and wisdom. (David and his men did recover their families and their treasure several days later!)
In the Psalms we read David’s songs. They are rich with emotion, including high moments of victory and low places of failure, times of uncertainty, doubt, and fear along with bold proclamations of the goodness of the Lord. They show us the real dimensions of faith which reaches the complete range of our humanity. Who among us has not prayed as he did- “O Lord, how long will you look on? Rescue my life from their ravages, my precious life from these lions.” (Psalm 35:17, NIV) “You know what I long for, Lord; you hear my every sigh. My heart beats wildly, my strength fails, and I am going blind.” (Psalm 38:9-10, NLT)
Then, too, there are the songs of faith’s assurance. “I cried out to the Lord in my suffering, and he heard me. He set me free from all my fears. For the angel of the Lord guards all who fear him, and he rescues them. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who trust in him!” (Psalm 34:6-8, NLT)
Has a season of darkness enveloped you? Does the noise of the world rob you of peace? Is some personal disappointment or failure haunting your thoughts?
Take a lesson from David – “David found strength in the Lord his God.”
A personal spiritual retreat reveals both faith and wisdom.
Job, whose story of brokenness leaves us horrified, came to the end of himself
and looked up to God in worship.
Jesus was led to the wilderness and there found himself subjected to intense temptation. His choice? To speak the wisdom of God, the truth of the Psalms.
Paul, in spite great sacrifice, was rejected and criticized. At a low point, beaten and chained to a wall in the jail of Philippi, he turned to God in worship, singing songs in the night, and God rocked his world. (see Acts 16)
May God, the Spirit of Peace, teach how to walk David’s way and “find strength in the Lord!”
Our word from the Word is full of hope. May the Spirit whisper these words to the deepest part of our soul.
“Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. …
The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble, they will not fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” (Psalm 37:7, 23-24, NLT)
(Video of this blog at this link)
Precious Lord, take my hand,
Lead me on, let me stand,
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn;
Through the storm, through the night,
Lead me on to the light:
Take my hand, precious Lord,
Lead me home.
When the darkness appears
And the night draws near,
And the day is past and gone,
At the river I stand,
Guide my feet, hold my hand,
Take my hand, precious Lord,
Lead me home.
Tommy Dorsey, 1932 written after his wife died in childbirth