This article on 1 Samuel 30:6 is about the test God gave David.

Source: Clarion, 1985. 2 pages.

1 Samuel 30:6 – Passing the Test

But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.

1 Samuel 30:6b

Anyone reading the book of Samuel cannot help but noticing the marked contrast between Saul and David, a contrast which develops as the book unfolds. Towards the end of the book, it meets its climax: Saul is cut off from all further revelation, while David, inquiring through the ephod, receives direct revelation from the LORD, instructing him to pursue the enemy, 1 Samuel 30:7ff.

It is the statement immediately preceding this action that catches our attention, and introduces an unusual twist in the ongoing contrast with Saul. 1 Samuel 28:15 finds Saul visiting the medium of Endor in great distress. David encounters the same sort of distress on his return to Ziklag. The whole community had been plundered, with wives and children taken captive. Grief soon turns to anger, and David is blamed for the disaster. A lynch-mob mentality takes over, and David's life hangs in the balance. But David finds access to the throne of grace! Saul is repulsed because of continued disobedience; David, as God's chosen servant, finds strength in the LORD his God. Yet, judging strictly from the actions involved, both men fall short, and their distress is born out of sinful actions.

Two factors contribute to the predicament in which David finds himself.

  • First of all, he is confronted with his own sins. Had he not fled to the land of the Philistines in the first place, all this would not have happened. To be sure, he was a hunted man; but it appears that he took to the land of Israel's enemies on his own initiative, without an explicit command of the LORD. Overcome by fear and constant pursuit, he finally succumbed to the pressure and left his country for a good while.

  • However, a second factor appears at Ziklag. David is confronted with events beyond his control. In the honest and well-meant performance of his duties to his lord, Achish, neighbouring Amalekites come and destroy the camp that Achish had given to him and his men. Here God's hand strikes him. These two factors, sin and punishment, Gods hand and his own foolishness, push his life to the brink of death.

Behind these two interwoven factors, however, one element stands out. The whole situation arises out of David's flight from Saul and his determination not to strike out his hand against the anointed servant of the LORD. Thus, behind the realities of sin and punishment, we find the deeds of a righteous man in Israel, one who in fear and trembling and under heavy assault, sought to obey the LORD his God.

Precisely this unique element makes David's prayer one that is heard. Precisely this element also makes David's prayer point beyond itself to our Lord Jesus Christ. Also in his flight, David's life foreshadowed the work of the great Messiah who was to come! For although He was without sin, He, too, was afflicted by circumstances. Being human, He could not be everywhere at once. He remained where His Father had placed Him. But for His countrymen this was not enough! They accused Him, too of not being strong enough to deal with disaster, Mark 4:38; 9:18; He, too, was accused of not being in the right place at the right time, John 11:21. It seemed the more He fled from the rulers of the day – in order to avoid unnecessary violence – the more He was reviled and mocked, John 6:15; 7:4.

Yet David's action in distress mirrors the response of the Lord Jesus in His critical life and death situations that went with Him throughout all the time He was on earth. As Peter says,

He committed no sin; no guile was found on His lips. When reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered He did not threaten; but He trusted to Him who judges justly.1 Peter 2:22, 23

The foreshadowing of all this is found in those simple words concerning David: "He strengthened himself in the LORD his God" For besides his own sins, David saw God's righteous hand upon him. How much more did not the Son feel the righteous hand of God upon Him! For He carried the curse that lay upon us, and bore the punishment for our sins. Our sin became His, and He had to endure the consequences. David's life served as His instruction, so that, as it came upon Him more and more, "He strengthened Himself in the LORD His God."

And this obedience is our salvation. He accepted the punishing hand of His Father upon Him, the punishing hand through which – by a "foreboding" providence, as it were – He was kept from preventing the disaster, kept from manifesting full control, and made to endure the rebuke and hostility of those who expected and wanted more from Him. In hardship and flight, "He learned obedience through what He suffered," Hebrews 5:8.

In Him the style of David remains the only fitting style for the Church today. For we are also driven in the wilderness, and made to bear the cross of continued weakness and infirmity, the cross laid upon us by the righteous will of the Father, when He sends persecution, suffering and weakness upon His Church,1 Corinthians 1:26, Revelation 12:14. In all things,

we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.1 Corinthians 4:7

David did not boast of his own strength; he found help with his God, of mere grace. So, we too, may find grace to help in time of need – all because of the One who knew no sin, and still became sin; and in righteous prayer strengthened Himself in the LORD His God – Jesus, our Saviour.

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