Many of us know the feeling: Our world seems to be falling apart. Familiar sources of security crumble to dust. Long-enjoyed relationships suddenly evaporate. Assumptions which underlie our daily confidence turn hollow and false.
David experienced such a time when he was sojourning among the Philistines. He and his six hundred men returned home to Ziklag one day to find the entire city burned to the ground and their families gone. The story in 1 Samuel 30 tells us that the Amalekites had raided and burned the town and taken everyone there captive, including David’s wives and children.
The loss was emotionally devastating both to David and his men. “David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.”
To make matters worse, his men—loyal through many a battle—began to turn against him. “David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters.”
David had lost his family, his possessions, and the respect of his men—and now seemed in danger of losing his life as well.
What could he do? He could escape from his men and try to start life over somewhere. Or he could ask the men to pick another leader, hoping they would let him alone. Or he could attempt some clever maneuvers to keep control by purg ing any conspirators.
But David chose none of these. Rather, he turned to the relationship he had come to rely on even more than food and breath. He “found strength in the Lord his God.” God was real to David, made real by his regular fellowship with God in prayer, a fellowship we see evidence of continuously in his Psalms.
Once strengthened, David wasted no time in seeking God’s guidance on what to do in this bitter situation caused by the Amalekites. “And David inquired of the Lord, ‘Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?'” God’s answer: “Pursue them. You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”
The Bible doesn’t say how David got his men to follow him on the subsequent exhausting pursuit of the Amalekites. Perhaps some went only out of a desire to rescue their own families, still seething inside against David. But more likely, they saw in him now the same God inspired leadership they had seen in previous difficulties. For throughout his life David led men by keeping his eyes on God. He lived and breathed the love, the hope, the power, the mercy of God.
In the end, David recovered unharmed his wives and children and those of all his men, along with all their possessions, plus a bonus of spoil. And it was not long after this that David was made king.
What was David’s secret? His confidence in always calling on God—even when his world was crumbling around him.