Summary: Tribulations are sent into our lives for very good reasons. Lord Jesus is the one who truly understands our suffering and our response is to trust him in all situations
Encourage yourself in the Lord. Joshua 1:9
Sometimes preachers give the idea that when you become a Christian life will be a bed of roses from then on. But Jesus said something very different to his disciples. He warned them very clearly, ‘In the world you will have tribulation.’ The fact is if you don’t have tribulations in your life you would do well to ask yourself if you are really His disciple.
Tribulations are sent into our lives for very good reasons. Paul tells us that “suffering produces perseverance, which in turn produces character and character hope”. (Romans 5: 3, 4). And Peter adds that ’all kinds of trials’ come so that our faith ‘- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.’ (1Peter 1: 6, 7).
Some trials shake us to the very core of our being. But what matters is who we turn to in our time of greatest need. Sometimes in our distress we try to resolve things ourselves. Sometimes we turn to the world for a solution. But the only one who truly understands our suffering and our need is the Lord.
David was a man who knew what suffering was. God had anointed him as a young man to be king of Israel. He had great experiences with the Lord. He had killed Goliath and was a great warrior in battle. But his success and popularity with the people made King Saul so jealous he wanted to kill him. David had to flee for his life. He, and 600 of his followers, ended up protecting Israel’s enemy the Philistines from their enemies. The Philistines were so impressed with David and his men that they gave them a small town of their own to live in. It was called Ziklag. (1 Sam 27; 6).
One day when David and his men were away from Ziklag the Amalekites came and attacked the town, carrying off all the women and children. (1.Sam 30:1). The Amalekites represents the enemy. His purpose is to kill, steal and destroy, and that is what he did to Ziklag, and what he wants to do with us.
The men were devastated and wept until they were exhausted, David included. Then David’s followers became bitter and turned against David, threatening to stone him. So there was David, already in great distress at losing his wives and children, now in danger of losing his life. Not many of us have gone through a trial as difficult as that. What did David do? The bible says, ‘David found strength in the Lord his God.’ (V6). He didn’t try to resolve the problem on his own. He didn’t become bitter as his men had done. He didn’t go to the Philistine’s for help. No, he turned to the Lord and sought his direction. Because of David’s faith the Lord answered him in his time of need and told him to go after the Amalekites. (Vs. 7, 8).
When David’s men saw that the Lord was with David they were encouraged to go with him. When the Lord’s servants trust him in the midst of their trials they become a source of encouragement to others going through difficulties.
David was obedient to the Lord and set out after the Amalekites. On the way his men found an Egyptian on the verge of death and they brought him to David. (V.11). This man was a slave of the Amalekites who had been sick and left to die. He had not eaten or drunk for 3 days. David stopped and ordered his men to give him bread to eat, water to drink and two cakes of raisins and part of a cake of pressed figs. This is a lesson for us that even in the midst of our own problems the Lord expects us to care for the Egyptians of this world, the spiritually sick and starving people we meet on our way. In the bible everything has a prophetic as well as a practical meaning. David here is a type of the Lord Jesus. He is the one we bring sin sick sinners to. He is the one who gives the bread of life and the water of life to give to the dying. Figs in the Bible represent the fruit produced for Israel (as in the fig tree in the gospels) speaking here of the word revealed in the Old Testament. Raisins are dried grapes, the fruit of the vine. Jesus is the true vine and the church the branches which produce the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. (Gal 5:22, 23).
Evangelism not only saves sinners but it also benefits the church. When the Egyptian recovered he was able to lead David to the Amalekites and the Lord gave them into their hands. Not only did they receive their wives and children back unharmed but they took all the Amalekites flocks and herds into the bargain.