1 SAMUEL 30:1 – 31:13 and LUKE 20:1–47
1 Sam 30
We now come to one of the more defining moments in David’s life. It is an experience that will test his love and trust in the Lord. David and his men settled in Ziklag as a result of the arrangement made with Achish. The Philistines were about to go to war with Israel and we now see the Amalekites attacking Ziklag from the south. They burned the city and they took all their wives, children and goods. The sentiment was so overwhelming they could not even come to the place of weeping. Many were probably lamenting the fact of casting their lot with David seeing as to what was happening. It was so bad that some of the men even thought of stoning him. Try and put yourself into David’s shoes and ask how much worse could it possibly get? He is called to be king and yet he has been fleeing for his life. He has sought to live honourably before Saul and others but for what purpose? He has been able to join with several hundred men who were social outcasts but now even their lives are ruined. He has lost his wives and now his men speak of wanting to stone him. I think David could be forgiven if he just packed it in and gave up. Many have done so for far less. This is what truly defines a man. He has every excuse to just give up. What does David do? The key is found in verse 6.
1Sa 30:6 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.
David had the ability to separate his soul from his spirit. What does this mean? A soulish person is governed and easily moved by emotion. One of the mantra’s of the 1960’s generation of young people was this: “If it feels good do it” Many songs and other forms of entertainment reinforced this new sense of licentiousness. It is God who has created within man the wide range of emotions so it is not meant to be disregarded. It is God who also has given man a Spirit that needs to come under discipline. The Spirit must have the ascendancy over the soul. There are times in life when we may not feel good due to some circumstance nonetheless it is required of us to bless the Lord at all times (Psa 103:1). The soul may not feel like praising but the Spirit must break forth. The soul of David at Ziklag had to be in great anguish for all that had just transpired. Still, he was able to encourage himself in God. This is a supreme test and David is passing it. It takes someone who really has a heart for God to keep being encouraged in the midst of all these issues. There is a familiar Bible verse that helps brings this distinction into clearer focus:
Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
It is the Word of God that feeds the spirt man within us. It can anchor us against the onslaught of circumstantial challenges such as what David is facing at Ziklag. Eve allowed Satan to speak to her soul while he chipped away at the Word, the Law and instruction that God gave regarding the forbidden tree. It was the soul of Adam that sided with his wife in the partaking of the fruit (Gen 3:1-6). It is the soul of today’s church that is responsible for many of the altered doctrines creeping into today’s pulpits. How many could take the position of standing firm and encouraging themselves in the Lord, as David did? I fear the majority of Christians would have taken offense long before Ziklag. Many new doctrines would have already been introduced to nullify or dismiss a “Ziklag” event. This is one of the reasons why David was so beloved of the Lord. This is also one of the primary criterions for reigning as a king. This is also one of the reasons why David had the privilege of being both king and priest.
The next smart move that David did was to seek the counsel of God. He seeks out Abiathar the priest and makes enquiry to the Lord (vs 7). He asks the question as to whether he should go up to battle and would he overtake them? A natural reaction by David and his men would have been to immediately pursue after the Amalekites but he first checks with the Lord. There were now a total of 600 men, 200 of which were not even able to be strong enough to go to the battle. The Lord makes clear that they will prevail and that they would recover all. One gets the sense as to how pleased the Lord would be to have such a man willing to step out in faith, to take God at his Word. David arose to challenges in the past as did Jonathan against seemingly great odds.
We see the sovereignty of God at work by bringing an Egyptian into their midst. This man was of the company of those who ravaged Ziklag. This man was sick and dying but after a few days of food and rest he recovers. He helps to make known the position of the Amalekites. He makes known their location and it is at a place where they are having a time of great celebration due to their spoiling of Ziklag (vs 16). You can see the haughtiness and arrogance of these men which to me is reminiscent of what we will later see at Belshazzar’s feast (Dan 5). It is an arrogance that is on display today. The cup of iniquity is coming to fullness and it is only a matter of time before God moves. May God help put within us the ability to cry out “Bless the Lord, O my soul” at all times, even when those times when we go through our personal Ziklag’s. We need to get into the Word of God so that it can feed, encourage, strengthen and anchor us for these challenging days ahead. We are called to become both kings and priests (Rev 5:10).
There is a heightened intensity being seen between the Lord and His adversaries as He draws nearer to the Cross. The exchanges seen in this chapter have been covered in our commentaries from other gospels however it is noteworthy in considering a bigger picture. Jesus is Truth and He is conveying Truth in his interactions with the priests and scribes. How does one respond to Truth? It is an important question due to our being judged in how we handle Truth.
The teachings of Jesus bring to light who the priests and scribes really are. They cannot hide from it. The more questions they ask in trying to trap Jesus the further exposed they become. They see themselves as clever in the framing of their questions but the Truth always prevails. When they asked Jesus the question by what authority does Jesus perform these things they had no idea it would be turned back unto them by way of a question. Jesus was effective in this dialogue because He could discern and read their intent. He answers their question with a question. He says He will answer their question provided they answer His. The Lord then goes on to share the parable of the man who planted a vineyard. He leaves no doubt in this parable that he is referring to them in their desire to kill the son. Their only recourse now is to find a conceivable way of killing Him. Jesus is not being evasive but rather is cutting to the heart of the matter. He knows the hour is at hand and he is allowing Truth to be presented with clarity. This is something we will need to do as well in these last days. Jesus is allowing for people to either embrace or reject the Truth. Our witness must be likewise however it must be Spirit led.
The priests and scribes are now clear in their intent in killing Jesus. They are losing their power and support base, the people are following Jesus. The question is how to find a way whereby He can be removed and discredited. This is not an easy task due to His ever growing popularity. In addition, they know He cannot be condemned without some sort of justification. They attempt to trap him as a violator of Rome by asking a question as to whether tribute should be paid to Caesar. This effort failed by way of His answer. They tried to discredit Him by way of the Sadducees who deny that there is a resurrection. The Lord takes this question and gives a clear answer in making a distinction between this life and the one to come. We are indebted to the Sadducees because their question helps to give us a better understanding of what heaven will be like. They simply cannot get a hold of Jesus; to find a way that will allow charges to be brought against Him. He will give them some help a bit later on. Until then, he stokes their fire a bit more by asking a provoking question. How can the Lord be David’s Son, Seeing that David calls Him Lord (vs 44)?
We need to meditate on the example that Jesus gives to us in the Gospels. Today, the church is in retreat and very much on the back foot. It is in reactionary mode allowing the prince of this world to dictate the course of events. This was not the approach the Lord took. It should not be the approach we take as well. In fact, we have the authority to utilize the sword of the Spirit in the same manner that Jesus did. It can be skilfully applied as we allow God to work His Word within us.