David Inquired of the LORD

First Samuel 30: 1-8

DIG: What must David and his men have thought as they saw the smoke of their homes on the horizon? How does YHVH once again look after David’s interests when his enemies attack him? How do you think David found strength in the LORD? How did the Ephod relate to David’s inquiry and ADONAI’s will (see First Samuel 23:9-12)?

REFLECT: Describe a situation that taxed your faith and patience almost to the breaking point. Are you at a time right now when you think things could not possibly get any worse? Are you at the end of your rope right now? When you are greatly distressed, how do you respond initially: with bitterness and fixing blame, as seen in David’s men? Or by finding strength in the LORD, as David did? Where do you need that divine strength right now? Whom else can you encourage to seek that strength?

1011 BC

The Destruction of Ziklag: David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day (see Bu – The Timeline for David’s Return to Ziklag, and Hearing About Sha’ul’s Death). This indicates that David and his men covered about twenty-five miles a day on their march south from Aphek to Ziklag. During their three-day journey their hearts must have been lifted at the thought of relaxation after so much stress, as well as joyful reunions with their wives and children. But as they drew new Ziklag, however, they may have been alarmed at the sight of smoke on the horizon; we can easily imagine the men breaking rank and racing toward their families.201

The Amalekite leaders knew that David was at Gath and that all attention was focused on the confrontation between Isra’el and the Philistines. This was a perfect time to retaliate against David for his raids (First Samuel 27:8-11), so the Amalekites raided Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, and they had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old, perhaps to sell as slaves in Egypt. The Amalekites, whom Sha’ul had failed to exterminate (see Af – The Problem of Holy War in the TaNaKh), had taken advantage of the departure of the fighting men to wreak havoc, but at least their wives and children had not been killed. There were no bodies on the ground. Everyone was missing. Instead, the Amalekites had taken them captive to be enjoyed or sold, they also took their animals and whatever else they could find as booty (First Samuel 30:1-3).202

The sight of their burned homes and missing family members was more than the men could bear. Imagine the horror and grief of David and his six hundred men who had never lost a battle! So David and his men wept aloud until they had no more strength left to weep. David had suffered in exactly the same way as everyone else, losing his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. Their city was burned, their wealth had been seized, and their wives and children had been kidnapped. It was the mercy of ADONAI that the Amalekites spared their lives, for in their raids David and his men had certainly killed their share of Amalekite women and children (First Samuel 27:11). David, at 29 years old,was at the end of his rope.203 Never since his flight from Gibeah and Sha’ul (First Samuel 20:24a), had David stood so alone.

The blow was not only too much for David to bear, but it was also the last straw for his weary men. Added to David’s grief was the fact that he was in great distress because his men blamed him for their plight. The men were so distraught that they could not think clearly and were prepared to stone David to deathbecause they blamed him for the loss of their loved ones; each one was bitter in spirit because of his family being taken.

But David found strength in ADONAI his God (First Samuel 30:3-6). Here David anticipates Rabbi Sha’ul’s wonderful two-sided statement in Philippians 2:12-13: Work out your own salvation . . . for God is at work. David counted heavily on YHVH being at work. At the same moment, David went to work on his rescue mission. By using the expression ADONAI his God, the Ruach HaKodesh emphasizes David’s intimate relationship with the One who, from the beginning, had always been with him (First Samuel 16:18).204So far from blaming God for allowing the destruction of the city and the capture of the women and children, David took the retaliation of the Amalekites as the work of the Adversary and drew on his relationship with the LORD.

David’s Inquiry of God: Sha’ul was also pictured as being in great distress (First Samuel 28:15b).So both David and Sha’ul are portrayed as leaders who were in crisis and at great risk. But look at how each man responded. Sha’ul sought refuge in a witch (see Bv – Sha’ul and the Medium at Endor), while David, when he hit rock bottom, inquired of the LORD. Then David’s spiritual discernment surfaced, and he said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him (see the commentary on Exodus Gb – The Urim and Thummim: The Means of Making Decisions) and David asked: Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them? Sha’ul had consulted Ha’Shem but had received no answer. However, ADONAI’s response to David’s inquiry was immediate, clear and full of encouragement. YHVH answered with a single word: Pursue (Hebrew: radaph). Saying, in effect: You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue (First Samuel 30:7-8).

To strengthen ourselves in the LORD means we remind ourselves of what Scripture says about ADONAI and His promises, and we bring those truths to bear on the situation. Every detail causes opposing voices to ring in the ears of the child of God. One is the voice of our circumstances, telling us that our situation is hopeless. The other is the voice of faith, telling us that YHVH is sufficient for the trial.205 Therefore, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things (Philippians 4:8).

 

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