I Samuel 30:8 – 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.
“David enquired at the LORD” – though one could understand if David perhaps had thought the Lord may have left him, with the situation David and his men were facing, but that is where faith comes in, we need to exercise faith and put faith into practice in those situations, we especially don’t understand, and trust and rely on the Lord to provide comfort, to provide hope and to provide direction and to provide guidance as to what our next step should be.
John Wesley commenting on verse eight, on how God answers prayers said “Before (in the past), God answered more slowly and gradually (I Samuel 23:11, 12) but now He answers speedily, and fully at once, because the business required haste. So gracious is our God that He considers even the degree of our necessities, and accommodates Himself to them.”
We need to do what David did in the situation we find him in, in our text, and that is he first “encouraged himself in the Lord” – no better place to encourage yourself than in the Lord; and he then “enquired at the Lord” to get direction as to what action to take, as to how to react to all that was going on around him and how to help those around him with their reactions to the stressful situation they all were facing.
BACKGROUND: David had just left his service to Achish. He was battle weary. He and his men travelled a three days march back home to get some rest and renewal with their families. David and his men came to the town they were staying at, Ziklag, only to find it in ruins. It had been burned down and all their possessions carried off. Their families were missing. David and his mighty men it says in verse 4 “lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.” – Their initial reaction a natural reaction.
At this low point David turns to the Lord and it says in verse six that “David encouraged himself in the LORD”. David chose intentionally to encourage himself in the Lord. Now David turns to the Lord for hope and seeks Him out for wisdom and direction as to what He should do and seeking how to ground, filter and anchor his reactions to this situation through the Lord. (Hebrews 6:19 – Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast…)
THE PROVIDENTIAL DEPENDENCE OF DAVID -After David “encouraged himself in the Lord”. He immediately sought out the Lords council and direction. (I Samuel 30:6-7 – 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. And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David.)
Different people react in different ways to the same circumstances, because what life does to us depends on what life finds in us. Some of the people wanted to stone David, which was certainly a foolish response. They needed their leader now more than ever, and how would his death solve their problem? We don’t blame the men for being grieved, but we question them in how they allowed their hearts to run ahead of their heads.
David knew that the encouragement he needed could only come from the Lord. He ordered Abiathar the priest to bring the ephod and together they sought the will of the Lord. Saul had consulted the Lord but had received no answer (28:3–6), but the Lord graciously replied to David’s request. David was hardly in a place of complete obedience, but God answered him just the same (Ps. 103:3–10).
Commenting of this situation David found himself in Matthew Henry said this “When David was at his wits’ end he was not at his faith’s end.”
PRAYER FOR GUIDANCE – I’m sure David already had the thought to go after the people that did this great injustice to him and his mighty men. No one would have thought badly of him for doing so. But notice how David had disciplined himself to ground and anchor his reaction in the Lord and the Lords will and to submissively be willing to give the situation, and his reaction to it, over to the Lord. David prayed to the Lord for guidance first. (I Samuel 30:8a – And David inquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them?)
David enquired of the Lord both concerning his duty—“Shall I pursue after this troop?” and concerning the event—“Shall I overtake them?” I Samuel 30:8. If we, just as David did in this situation, acknowledge God, we may expect that He will direct our steps, as He did David’s here, answering David above what he asked, with an assurance that he should recover all.
“Make sure you are doing what God wants you to do – then do it with all your might!” – President George Washington.
PURSUE! – The answer David submissively prayed for. Sometimes when we think we know what God’s answer to our prayer will be we still need to get on our knee’s and submissively depend on Him for the answer before we act. (I Samuel 30:9a – So David went, he and the six hundred men that were with him, and came to the brook Besor)
PROVIDE FOR OTHERS IN THE MIDST OF YOUR TRIAL – We should not walk around with tunnel vision when we are seeking to do the Lords will. Be willing to be detoured off your planned route for the day. That very detour may be planned for you by God to help answer a need you have. (I Samuel 30:11-12 – And they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David, and gave him bread, and he did eat; and they made him drink water; And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters of raisins: and when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him: for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights.)
PRUDENCE OF THE PROVISION – God revealed more of His will and answer to David’s prayer as he was willing to stop and help meet someone else’s needs. (I Samuel 30:13 -14 – And David said unto him, To whom belongest thou? and whence art thou? And he said, I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite; and my master left me, because three days ago I fell sick. We made an invasion upon the south of the Cherethites, and upon the coast which belongeth to Judah, and upon the south of Caleb; and we burned Ziklag with fire.)
THE PLEASURE IN FOLLOWING THE LORD’S WILL IN SPITE OF ADVERSITY – David sought to get closer to God is his time of distress. He prayed for the Lords will and he kept on doing the Lords will even though he encountered setbacks along the way.
Charles Spurgeon said this about David in this passage of Scripture “David proved the God of truth may be trusted, and that the heart which waits upon the Lord will be comforted.”
IN CONCLUSION: David depended on guidance, grace and strength from the Lord in his time of distress. Do we do this? Do we make this a practice in our life? Is this our reaction to events like this in our life? David had disciplined himself to ground and anchor his reaction in the Lord and the Lords will and to submissively be willing to give the situation, and his reaction to it, over to the Lord.
David prayed to the Lord for guidance first. David did not rely on his own wisdom but prayed to the Lord for an answer as to what to do. Sometimes even when we think we know what God’s answer to our prayer will be we still need to get on our knee’s and submissively depend on Him for the answer before we act. David’s reaction was to pray to the Lord, it was to depend on the Lord for the answer – how are our reactions to stressful situations, are they the same as David’s was here? Or do we try to solve our own problems in our own power?
When the Lord “speaks” to us we need to be willing to immediately do what He leads us to do. Don’t hesitate once you get the answer from the Lord, pursue it to completion. Sometimes the Lord will reveal His will to us to test us to see how determined we are to follow His will (James 1:12).
We need to not always just think of ourselves when we are going through a trial. Seek to be used of God to meet others needs too. God revealed more of His will and answer to David’s prayer as he was willing to stop and help meet someone else’s needs. The Lord will bless our efforts for Him. In your time of distress take time to help others.
We need to always be anchoring our reactions in the Lord. We need to develop the spiritual discipline, like David did in this terrible situation, and have reactions to stressful events anchored in the Lord and filtered through Him and His Word. Remember to keep the Lord first in all parts of your life. The Lord will not ever leave us all alone in a problem or emotionally stressful situation, He will be there for us and ready to help us anchor our faith and our reactions in Him, just as David showed us in this passage.