It’s so easy to not face the consequences of our own decision making and to blame others instead. To face the consequences of our actions and decision-making means admitting wrong, may include repentance and certainly will include changes in living.
David and his men were fighting with the Philistine army (which was wrong) when the Amalakites attacked David’s base at Ziklag, laid it to waste and captured the women and children, presumably for slavery (1 Samuel 30:1-2). David’s wrong decisions caused on-going consequences, in this case it affected his friends and family. At some point we just have to stop and admit we have made the wrong decisions, to ask for help and draw a line.
Such was the effect on David that:
Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep. 1 Samuel 30:4
That is real depth of emotion. As I sit here today over 22,000 people have died in hospitals from Covid 19 and many more in care homes and at home. I have to admit to being deeply affected by these numbers, my heart races each day when I hear the daily death rate. We must not become desensitised to these numbers.
Each person has family and friends that are weeping until they have no more strength. We the church must not be immune to the depth of sorrow within our nation. I know a little about loss, my dad and mum, my brother all gone. My mother in law and father in law, aunties and uncles all gone, many friends all gone. It hurts.
I know it’s a cliché but we can take strength from Job
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1:20-21
The weeping until they had no strength is not a sign of unbelief. Job was not doing a flippant, insensitive, superficial “Praise God anyhow” response to loss. The magnificence of his worship is because it was in loss, not because it replaced loss. Let your tears flow freely when loss comes. And church we should weep with those who weep.
My old pastor used to say this to me over and over that people “don’t care how much you know till they know how much you care,”
Our job right now is to let the word know we care!
David has cause to be greatly distressed (vs 6), the people were bitter in soul and wanted to stone him. David was wrong, he had made mistakes, he was the leader, the buck stopped with him. I can identify with this, there have been many times I think it would have been easier to be an engineer and just a church member.
No pastor begins his ministry desiring to make huge mistakes, hoping to give up, or burn out, or fail morally. Yet sadly such things exist, and this is precisely where many end up.
I want to finish well. I want to faithfully endure to the end, but this is no easy task. And when it comes to the hard grind of church life, finishing the course God has laid out before me takes Holy Spirit power, learning from mistakes, enduring and persevering, and praying the people won’t throw the stone.
Could you, would you pray for me from Paul’s letter to Timothy?
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” 2 Timothy 4:7
Despite the mistakes, despite the bad decisions, I love the grace of God here.
But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. 1 Samuel 30:6
No matter how low you go, the way back to the Lord is always open. But David … This is one of the many great “buts” in the Bible. Everything around David was gloom and doom. His property was either destroyed or stolen. His wives were gone and he didn’t know at this point if he would ever see them again. His men were talking of killing him. “But David!” He intentionally, deliberately rejected the faithless gloom and doom of his men. He intentionally looked beyond the smouldering ruins of Ziklag to his God.
David’s strong intention is also seen in the Hebrew verb, “strengthened himself”. It implies persistent and continuous effort. There is nothing passive about coming back to the Lord at a time of despair. It doesn’t happen accidentally. Sometimes, like the psalmist, you have to grab yourself by the lapels and talk to yourself:
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Psalm 43:5
Like the prodigal son, you have to determine, “I will get up out of this pigsty and go back to my father!” The way back is always intentional.
But the grace is always there, in this case the strengthening in God.
Now that is a challenge, because David did not deserve this free gift of grace in the form of strengthening, to be honest he needed a kick up the back side, hard. (By the way I wouldn’t do it – this the guy who killed lions, bears and Goliath)
There is a fantastic prayer in the book of Lamentations that speaks of honesty and hope for us all:
Restore us to yourself, O LORD, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old. Lamentations 5:21
The book of Lamentations is (I think) the grimmest book in the Bible. God himself had destroyed the apple of his eye, Jerusalem.
The LORD gave full vent to his wrath; he poured out his hot anger, and he kindled a fire in Zion that consumed its foundations. Lamentations 4:11
He has bent his bow like an enemy, with his right hand set like a foe; and he has killed all who were delightful in our eyes in the tent of the daughter of Zion; he has poured out his fury like fire. Lamentations 2:4
So how does the book end? It ends with the only hope there is:
Restore us to yourself, O LORD, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old.
That was David’s only hope, that is my only hope and your only hope.
That our God is a God of grace who loves to restore and renew his children.
Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” Luke 22:31-32
Not if you return but when you return. I have prayed for you! You will return and when you do, it will be my sovereign grace that brought you back from the precipice of unbelief.
This is true for you. This is your only hope of perseverance in faith.
He will cause us to return. Therefore, “to him who is able to keep you from stumbling . . . be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever”. Jude 1:24-25 Amen.
Why don’t you spend some time praying for yourself that God would restore and renew your faith?
Now spend some time praying for those you know whose faith is struggling, maybe they have walked away from God.
Lord restore and renew them.