David Chases the Amalekites — Finding strength in God during hard times.
Reading 1: 1 Samuel 29
Reading 2: 1 Samuel 30
Reading 3: Habakkuk 3:17-19
Let’s reflect on David’s life for a moment. He is the youngest son in his family, and overlooked when the prophet comes to select a new king. Then he is anointed as king, but refuses to enforce his authority over the existing king, Saul. Gradually he comes to be the prime enemy of Saul, even though Israel and Judah are surrounded by other enemies as a result of their failure to fulfill God’s commands to them on entering the Promised Land. David is forced to flee and live among those enemies to be safe from Saul’s murderous self-focus. David’s life has been a string of setbacks and opposition.
Now today’s reading tells us of two more immense obstacles for David: first his Philistine master, Achish, rejects him from battle because the other Philistine kings are suspicious of David’s loyalty. And then, on returning to his home, David and his men find all their wives and children have been kidnapped by another enemy group – the Amalekites.
Lesser men (including most of David’s soldiers) would have reacted in anger to this double setback. His men were talking of killing him. But David’s response is different. In signature style, David demonstrates his godliness. First, he strengthens himself in the Lord, and then he seeks God’s wisdom before acting. We do not know exactly how David “found strength in the Lord his God” (v6) but our reading in Habakkuk gives us some clues. Rejoicing despite afflictions, trusting in God’s provision of strength, declaring God’s promises; all these are ways we can strengthen ourselves in the Lord.
Then, after seeking God’s wisdom, David and his men set out to administer justice on the marauding enemies. It is noticeable that both the ungodly Philistine king and the pagan Egyptian slave are influenced by the godliness of David and his men so that both invoke God’s name as their reason for their actions – Achish sending David away without dishonor, and the slave helping David and his men find their families.
And when the victory is achieved, David decrees that there is just as much reward in supporting acts of righteousness and justice as there is in being on the front-lines. We all have a part to play in God’s Kingdom advance, and we all share in the rewards when victory belongs to the Lord.
Have a great day!