Summary: When hopes and dreams turn to ashes of disappointment and heartache, what to do? David’s experience at Ziklag serves as an inspiration to all who would arise out of seeming defeat.
BEAUTY FOR ASHES
If I serve you well from this pulpit–-if I achieve the goal I have set–-my message today will be filled with hope and encouragement. First, we will hear what Jesus said when He stood in the synagogue at his hometown of Nazareth and read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Second, we will draw out three encouraging concepts from the Isaiah passage and make some practical applications to our lives. And, finally, for the purpose of practical application we will turn to a
true-life story relating to David that is found in the book of 1 Samuel 30:6.
Luke 4:18 and 19 are two of the most popular verses in all the bible. They are made popular, and are thus oft quoted, because Jesus used them one day in the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth. It was on the occasion of His introduction into full time ministry.
The interesting thing here lies in the fact that He did not choose to read the entire portion of the
prophet’s words. Here is the entire quotation.
"The Spirit of the LORD God is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified" (Isa. 61:1-3).
These verses are ripe with the richness of encouragement, hope and joy. However, as rich as they
are as a whole in encouragement I want only to lift out three themes, because they have a direct bearing upon our subject. In these verses God promises:
1. To “give them beauty for ashes.”
2. To give them the “oil of joy for mourning.”
3. To give them “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”
What we need now is a dramatic true-life story that will serve to illustrate the fact that some times our hopes and dreams burn down and nothing is left but ashes of disappointment. At such a time and such a place we are faced with the challenge:
1. Do I sit on the ashes and complain of all that went wrong?
2. Do I eat the ashes and choke on remorse and bitterness?
3. Do I move beyond the ashes to find God’s plan and purpose leading to victory?
Our Old Testament story is found in 1 Samuel 30 but not necessarily in the exact words I will use to tell it.
Imagine, if you will, that you’ve been away from home for several weeks; not because you wanted to but because of urgent matters that involve your friends, your family’s well-being and,in no small way, your very future. How you’ve missed your family! At times you’ve ached with loneliness and desire to be with them. You’ve been looking forward with eager anticipation for the day when you can begin the journey back. At long last that day has come. You’re heading home. Joining you in the trek back home are six-hundred men who have shared your dreams,your mission. They are as eager as you to get started. For the most part they have been very loyal companions. Everyone is happy, laughing and talking about how it’s going to be, what they’ll do first, how they’ll try to make up for the lost time spent away from the family.
The road home winds through desolate areas of treeless wilderness, along dry stream beds, through narrow gorges. Sometimes the path is nothing more than a goat’s trail leading up, down and around hills. After several days and nights you see the final hill to climb. On the other side, in a little valley, is your village. Your home is there. Your loved ones are waiting--the wife and kids you’ve missed so much. This thought pumps extra energy into your tired, aching muscles, so you pick up the pace. Your friends, just as eager, follow suit.
Before you crest the hill you wonder why there are none of the usual signs that home is nearby. Where is the smoke of kitchen fires and the sounds of happy children. The stillness in the air nibbles at the edge of you mind. It’s a quietness that stirs a feeling of uneasiness. Even before you know, you know something isn’t right. But what? Once you reach the top of the hill the answer is clear. You stop dead in your tracks and stare in stunned disbelief. No wonder there are