Friday, March 28, 2014

The Proper Response to Rage and Sadness

It is a troubling time for David, anointed to be king. Instead of ascending to the throne, he is running for his life from the jealous King Saul.

David is now back in Saul's kingdom, ready to serve him, but he fears for his life all the same. After all, Saul had often accepted him for a time before madness overcame Saul and an attempt on David's life was made. 

David was sure that staying in Israel would be to invite his own murder at the hands of the King. He leaves Israel then and heads to the land of the Philistines. That's right the mortal enemies of David and the Israelites. Indeed David heads straight toward the city of Gath, where Goliath the giant hailed. 

One can speculate all day whether this action was justified, but the fact is, the Bible makes no case either to condemn it or to justify it. Thus, we are left with no basis by which to judge David's actions here. 

David fights for the Philistines, but by the grace of God is prevented from fighting against the Israelites. Indeed near the end of his stay with the Philistines, the Philistines and Israelites did set battle in array against each other, the battle that would prove to be the last battle for King Saul. 

David was willing to fight this battle. He was willing to fight for the sake of the Philistines, but the Lord put upon the hearts of the Philistines a mistrust of David due to his lineage. When the King of the Philistines dismisses David, he feels insulted. He asks the king what he had done to deserve this mistrust. 

David ultimately leaves the Philistines and heads back to the city Ziklag, which the Philistines had given him - the city where he had left his family. What he did not know was that as he was determined to stay to fight Israel, the Amalekites attacked Ziklag. 

When David returns, he found that the Amalekites had succeeded in laying siege to the city, they took captive the sons and the women (including David's family), and have left it on fire. 

Can you imagine that? You leave your city for a week or two and return to find your home in shambles! Your family, captured at best, dead at worst. That emotion is almost unexplainable. 

Thus, it comes as no surprise when I Samuel 30:4-6,
"Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep. And David's two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite. And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God."

Yes, I know, I have skirted around the fact that David had two wives at this point (he had a third in Israel, but she was remarried to another man); it's just not important to the point of this post.

On top of all the emotion at losing his house and family, his own people have turned against him! He is emotionally distressed. But then how does he next respond?

If it was us, we would be ready to hunt down those responsible and make sure that they are punished, while protecting our family.  This is where David is, yet he understands one stage, we may easily forget. You see, in the heat of emotion, our judgment may get clouded, in that we forget that our experience is not the end-all of wisdom. You've heard it from me a lot before. We all forget to consult the Lord.

But David didn't. In I Samuel 30:8, we read,
"And David enquired at the Lord, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all."

In the heat of emotion, David didn't lose himself. He didn't forget that he was a humble servant. He remembered to consult the Lord. Are we able to do the same?

What else are we supposed to do in times of crisis? What more should be our place? Take heed to the examples of David today and throughout the rest of your life. Consult the Lord even when your emotions want you to act quickly. In fact, especially when you are emotionally distressed, remember the words of Proverbs 3:5,
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding."

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