Have you heard the phrase, “It gets darkest just before dawn“? I’m not sure it’s true, but the suggestive thought fits everyday life. Sometimes while working on a task for a long time, or tenaciously waiting on a promise from God, temptation to give up becomes strongest just before the finish line comes into sight. Tasks suspiciously become most difficult shortly before success is realized, a long journey becomes most wearisome just before the end is in sight.
King David experienced similar circumstances, Samuel anointed him to be the future king when he was just a teenager, and it was many years later before the throne was finally his. During those long and eventful years, David experienced numerous life experiences, he not only became a champion warrior, but also reached spiritual maturity.
After David become a very successful military leader, Saul unfortunately developed a burning jealousy of him, believing he may eventually take the throne away, so he chose to make David an enemy. David had to escape, because Saul was intent on killing him. He threw a spear at David while playing the harp, and he moved out of the way just in time. David had to go into hiding, and after being pursued for a long time with a few close calls, he finally left Israel. He had accumulating a following of 600 fighting men, they joined up with him while on the run, and they went with him.
David, his 600 men, and their families moved to a town called Ziklag, inside the borders of Philistine. Later on, while David and his men were away, the Amalekites were on a large scale raiding spree, hitting multiple cities in Philistine, and when they came to Ziklag, they not only kidnapped everybody and took all the goods, but also burned the place.
So when David and his men returned, they found ashes, all the people were gone, and the place had been pilaged. This was a very difficult catastrophe to face, can you imagine what they were feeling, with their wives and children kidnapped?
Have you ever cried until you couldn’t cry anymore, that’s a lot of pain. Since David’s men were on the verge of stoning him, that shows they had no hope of recovering their families. But, even though everything was lost, David had hope, he had learned to trust God.
As a teenager with the task of hearding his father’s sheep, he had learned to walk with God. If a lion or bear came to snatch a lamb, David would kill it with a club. He repeatedly risked his life in this way, while trusting God to bring success.
Also, while still a teenager, he volunteered to do battle with a 9 foot champion warrior, a Philistine soldier who was mocking the Israeli army. He repeatedly dared anybody to come out and fight him, day after day, but no one stepped up to the task, until David arrived. He was bringing supplies to his older brothers, who were in the army, and was appalled with what he saw. Something stirred inside when he saw this heathen mocking the army of God‘s chosen people.
After asking around to find out what was going on, he volunteered to go out and fight the raving giant, believing he would be successful, because God blesses faith in action. Imagine what this 9 foot lunatic thought when this boy came out to fight him. David put a stone in his sling and trusted God to guide it to the target, and it sunk into the giant’s forehead.
So after much weeping, David’s reaction was to find comfort in God, he had developed a habit of asking for guidance and direction. God answered David’s prayer, said he would successfully recover everyone and everything that was taken, so they began the Journey of pursuing the Amalekites.
After days of pursuing, they finally caught up with the raiders, and observed a vast army, who were in possession of great plunder, including large herds of livestock. Since there was so many of them, they were encamped in multiple fields for the night, so they had multiple victory parties in session with dancing and drinking.
Earlier, before arriving to the Amalekite encampments, David and his warriors had to cross a great river, and 1/3 of his men were too exhausted to continue, due to days of non-stop traveling, including before returning to Ziklag, so 200 of them stayed behind at the river. Therefore, only 400 warriors were with David, and now found themselves facing a vast raiding party of tens of thousands.
Even though David and his men were exhausted, they persevered and conquered the Amalekites, fighting sword-in-hand combat for about 18 hours. They were vastly out numbered, perhaps by 100 to 1, but the 400 warriors trusted David’s relationship with God, believing they would succeed by divine intervention. But, if they had became discouraged and quit, then naturally they would have failed. Fortunately, they persevered through each difficult situation until complete success was realized.
They not only recovered all the people and goods that was taken, but also acquired much additional plunder, including numerous livestock, then leisurely headed back to what remained of Ziklag. There was so much livestock, that David sent herds as gifts to many cities who had befriended him while on-the-run from Saul, telling them it was plunder from an enemy of God. After arriving to Ziklag, David still would not be discouraged, because walking with God continually refreshes the spirit.
All these things had happened just before he would finally become king, but he had no idea the time was quickly approaching. Saul was still young enough to remain as king for many more years, but as it turned out, he died in a battle against the Philistines about the same time David returned to Ziklag.
Ultimately, as difficulty increases, this may be a sign that success is just around the corner. But, if discouragement leads to quitting, then the soon-to-be-success turns into failure, and all efforts up to that point will come to nothing. On the other hand, with continued perseverance in faith, complete success will be realized.
David had multiple opportunities to be discouraged, such as when they approached the river, what if he and his remaining 400 men had also succumbed to exhaustion? Or when they saw the size of the raiding party, who in their right mind would go forth against such odds?
Only someone walking in faith will continue through such a gauntlet of discouraging circumstances as Divid faced. So be joyful, because as God supported David through each insurmountable situation, he will also bring success through our faithful determination and perseverance, so don’t quit no matter what happens.
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