Some of us are suffering setbacks, unimaginable losses and even complete disasters in this perfect storm of unprecedented economic meltdown. Where can we turn for guidance and help? Surprise? Our Bible in I Samuel 30 provides us with a model that helped David recovered all that he lost; and more than that. Our situation cannot be as disastrous as what David faced.
Upon being delivered unexpectedly from a sticky situation of having to fight his own Hebrew brothers David and his 600 men were happily returning to Ziklag. To their horror the Amalekites had raided and looted their base and taken all their families captive. They lost absolutely everything. They were devastated and traumatized. His men needed to put the blame on someone and David, their leader, was the natural target. Adding to his own complete loss, David faced the trauma of having his own men turn on him. What did David do?
- “But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” (v6). In our distress we need to seek God first. But even before we do that, we must believe with absolute certainty who God is. He can and He will do all that is necessary to give us a way out of our difficulties. How do we strengthen ourselves? We recall His faithfulness in the past. His promises and His unfailing love in His Word. That He will never leave us or forsake us. Not only what we experienced ourselves but also from the testimonies of others.
- Only after strengthening himself in the Lord, did “David inquired of the Lord…” (v8). There can be no options, no way out or there can also be too many options and we really have no clue which will work. We need to hear from Him. In David’s case, his dilemma was simply whether to pursue or not to pursue knowing full well that the Amalekites had a much larger fighting force than his 600 men. Huge odds for him to contemplate. He needed the assurance from God that God will be with him in the battle and that God will deliver on His promise.
- Now that he has the assurance from God, “So David set out…” (v9). He did not procrastinate. After hearing from God, he knew exactly what to do. He cast all doubts aside, not burdened by the numerical odds against him. Not concerned that his own men who wanted to kill him would not follow. He just acted upon the assurance from God. His men followed. If we are assured of who God is in our lives and do not doubt His promise, we will not waver, unsure whether we heard right from God. We just do it.
- David thought he had at least 600 men against the huge horde of the Amalekites but 200 were too exhausted to carry on. The odds against him just increased dramatically but he was very sure of God’s promise. He used whatever resources that was available and “But David pursued, he and four hundred men.” (v10). Sometimes we fail to act on God’s promise because our logical minds tell us that the ingredients for success are simply not there. We need to garner more resources, more help from our friends or our bankers. And we miss the opportunity for God to show His greatness and His faithfulness.
- As he pursued with just 400 men he stopped because they came upon a dying man in the desert. He stopped to help a dying man, a stranger of no consequence to what he was doing in pursuing his enemies. Why waste such valuable time? Because David maintained his Christlike character. He helped without expecting anything in return and the Egyptian “… when he had eaten, his spirit revived, for he had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days and three nights.” When we are in desperate situations our survival instincts kick in. We cease caring about others. Our own survival is paramount. In so doing we may end up abandoning our Christian values and principles. We cease to be Christ’s salt and light to the world.
- With the Egyptian’s help, David was able to locate the Amalekites quickly and launched a surprise attack. He won against huge numerical odds. He won against logical probabilities. “David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken…” (v18). “David brought back all.” (v19). If we know our God and His faithfulness, we too can recover all that we lost. Often against probabilities and logic. But David’s recovery is yet not fully complete.
- Besides recovering all they lost they also captured the spoils and loot that Amalekites took from the other areas they raided. His 400 men decided that the 200 who did not fight were not deserving to share in the extras. Why? Because they believed it was their strength, courage and ability that won the battle for them. David rebuked them. He acknowledged God and wanted his men to do the same, “You shall not do so, my brothers, with what the Lord has given us. He has preserved us and given into our hand the band that came against us.” (v23). When we have overcome our disasters, we may be tempted to give too much weight to our own abilities and skills to our success. We need to acknowledge that it was all God and none us.
- David made sure that “The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.” (v24). We must be mindful to share with those who have been with us but because of their own circumstances could not contribute to our recovery. Not because they did not want to but because they couldn’t.
- We can be happy with our own recovery but what about the others in our community of faith? There are many who are hurting, struggling and unable to even meet basic needs. David acknowledged that his greater than just recovery was from God and therefore the blessing must be shared with the rest of God’s community and God be glorified. David sent some of the plunder to the elders of Judah, who were his friends, saying, “Here is a present for you from the spoil of the enemies of the Lord.” (v 26)
- Our success is dependent on and supported by the various elements that make up our society at large. The infrastructures and institutions. The government and the authorities. The markets, the systems and networks. David remembered the wider society which indirectly contributed to what he was able to achieve. “David sent it … to those in all the other places where he and his men had roamed.” (v 27-31). Likewise, from our recovery we must extend God’s love to all in our society regardless of race or religion.
God’s recovery for David is now complete.
Article of Business and Economy Commission, NECF contributed by
Dr Wong Hong Meng