When All Is in Ruins
In 1 Samuel chapter 30, David is on the run from King Saul. Saul has been trying to kill David, and David and his men are living in the city of Ziklag in the land of the Philistines.
Periodically, David and his men go on campaigns to fight against the enemies of Israel. One day, as they are returning from having been out, they see smoke in the distance. Likely, one of them may have said, “That looks like it might be coming from home.”
They hurry back and find out that, sure enough, the city where they were living had been completely ransacked. Their loved ones, wives, and children had been kidnapped and taken into slavery by a group of Amalekites. The buildings had been burned to the ground. There was nothing left. They must have been devastated. It is hard to get your mind around what it would have felt like for David and his men in that moment when all was in ruins.
We pick up the story in 1 Samuel 30:6, Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
Verse 4 says that “the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep”… and then everyone turns on David. They unjustly accuse him of being responsible, so now David has not only lost everything he owns, but he also is about to be stoned. His men are blaming him for all of the problems. Not only is he responsible for these men and now their families are gone, but his own wife is gone too. His children are gone. Yet, we read that “David strengthened himself in the Lord.”
Other translations say that David “found strength in the Lord” or “felt the Lord giving him strength” or “drew strength from the Lord.” The point is that David was perplexed. He was fatigued. He was unjustly blamed and sorrowful. How did he find strength?
In Isaiah 27:5, God says, “Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me.”
David took hold of the strength of God. The question is, how? Perhaps he reminded himself of past victories. Maybe he prayed. Perhaps he worshiped. Maybe he considered God’s faithful character or the strength of God’s promises. We don’t actually know specifically what David did. We only know that at this critical time, he found strength—and you can as well. You can take hold of the strength of God.
We know from Psalm 29:11 that, “The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.” And Psalm 46:1 tells us that, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Whether you are in need of spiritual strength, emotional strength, material strength, or physical strength, God has it, and it can be taken hold of.
That’s what this reading plan will help you do, through four simple steps that lead you into God’s ever-present and never- ending strength. Maybe you are in the midst of a crisis right now. Maybe you are feeling heartbroken, perplexed, or facing unjust accusations. Whatever season you are in, know that God has strength for you.
Each day brings mini “crises” that require us to make a decision about how we will respond. Will you take hold of the strength of God? Try to be more intentional about how you respond to the busyness and stress of daily life today. When things get hard, take a moment. Say a prayer. And remember that “God is our refuge and strength” (Psalm 46:1).