Have you ever taken a step of faith convinced that it is the best decision only to have it backfire? David experienced something like that before he became king. It turned into an example of how God is faithful to His people and how, in Him, all things work together for good just as the Bible says:
We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Rom. 8:28)
David and six-hundred followers were pretending allegiance to the Philistines. The Philistine king, Achish, gave them the town of Ziklag as their own. Achish thought that David was raiding Judah and other Philistine enemies from Ziklag; in fact, David was secretly annihilating Philistine allies.1
When the Philistine army marched off to fight Israel, David and his band were among them.2 We will never know exactly what David had in mind, but it seemed like the culmination of a plan to unleash a rearguard action against Philistia. Having won the trust of Achish, David could enter the heart of the battle and, at a critical point, switch sides, destroy the Philistine army, and convince King Saul of his loyalty and devotion to him.
We can imagine David’s men chuckling to themselves about the cunning plan. David’s popularity peaked as the army approached the battle. “What a leader! What a man of faith!” But halfway to Jezreel, three days’ journey from Ziklag, Achish’s commanders became suspicious and demanded that Achish dismiss David.3 Upon arriving home three days later, David’s popularity rating plummeted. Amalekites had raided and burned the town and had taken all their loved ones captive. “What a wasted journey that was! Whose idea was it anyway?” When the weeping subsided, bitterness set in, and David’s life was on the line.
Most of us probably become defensive at a time like that. We make excuses, defend our decision, or try to patch together a solution. When we debate, complain about, or analyze problems, we leave God on the sidelines. David could have retreated with a loyal inner circle to sit out the storm. But he did none of those things; David took the problem straight to God, eager to know His will..
David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. . . . David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I pursue this band? Shall I overtake them?” And He said to him, “Pursue, for you will surely overtake them, and you will surely rescue all.” (1 Sam. 30:6, 8)
Those occasions when the plans we thought God was unfolding for our lives, churches, and ministries fall apart are not a reason to lose faith in God. Instead, we should press in to God and see how He redeems the situation.
David did just that. He asked God what to do and God promised to help him rescue everyone. So, David and his men pursued the Amalekites, slaughtered them, and recovered more than they had lost. The spoils included items that the Amalekites had stolen from the Philistines and from Judah. David used those riches as gifts for key leaders in Judah and so he laid foundations for friendships that would help when he became king.4
Success, as we measure it, is never guaranteed on our faith journeys, but God is always faithful to us when we follow Him in faith. He uses what seem like defeats as opportunities for His glory. With God, all things work together for good.
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