Summary: The action taken by David when his wives & children were kidnapped is used to illustrate how to respond to a disappoint, crisis, or setback.
Overcoming a Setback
Today I want to talk about overcoming a setback. Has anybody here experienced a setback or two in life? Has anybody recently experienced a setback? It’s a part of living on planet earth. Chuck Swindoll described the Christian journey as “Three steps forward, two steps back.” How do we deal with those unforeseen events that seem to set us back in life?
In 1 Samuel 30 David and his men experienced a major setback.. They had already endured a lot of frustration. The man who was anointed as a youth to be king of Israel was actually living like a fugitive. It was not David’s fault; but King Saul was determined to kill David. Saul had been rejected by God because of his rebellion. The Bible tells us the Spirit of the Lord left Saul and an evil spirit filled the vacuum that was left. Tormented by an evil spirit, Saul had become a jealous, paranoid maniac. He was convinced that David was going to take his throne away from him. To stop that from happening he decided to kill David. So first we have to understand that life had not been easy for David and his men.
In order to survive, David had joined forces with the Philistines—the enemies of the people of God. Remember Goliath was a Philistine. This was a mistake; but what do you do when you’ve got a crazy king trying to kill you? David had spent most of his time protecting Israeli towns in the general area. In the previous chapter Achish, the king of the Philistines, had sent David away. The Philistines were about to fight King Saul and some of the Philistine officers were afraid David might turn on them during the battle. So here was an immediate stress they had just experienced. They are tired and weary from all this and looking forward to getting back home for some rest. They don’t have a clue as to what is waiting for them there.
Follow with me as we read 1 Samuel 30:1-3 (read). I thought it was interesting the way that chapter began, “Now it happened....” Sometimes things happen. There are David and his men looking forward to some time with their families. They’re probably expecting to see their kids running out of the tents to meet them. They can see themselves jumping off their horses and hugging their wives, enjoying a nice meal that evening. But something had happened—something very unexpected. Ziklag is smoldering in rubble. The Amalekites, their enemy, has carried away their wives and kids. In all likelihood they will never see them again. How would you and I feel? They haven’t read the rest of this chapter. They have just lost everything!
We have in this chapter an example of how to deal with a setback like this. We are about to find out that David is indeed a man after God’s own heart. Here we see the kind of leader he is. Leadership is not manifested during the victorious, easy times. Those conditions don’t demand much leadership. It’s when the going really gets rough, it’s when everybody is discouraged and wants to give up, that’s when you find out who is really a leader. Leaders lead when nobody wants to lead. Leadership is not a position; it’s a response to a challenge.
But this morning, our focus is not so much on leadership as it is very simply this. What do you do when you hit an unexpected reversal like David and his men encountered in this passage? What do you do when you get a call in the middle of the night that a family member has been in a car wreck? What do you do when you had thought you might get a promotion; but instead you get laid off? What do you do when you thought you were cancer-free; but it reappears? Do things like that happen? Do any of those things happen to good people? If we had time today, we could talk about some of the unexpected challenges many of us have faced in life. But those challenges do not have to destroy us. There is a way to respond that empowers us to deal with them in a godly way. David exemplifies that in 1 Samuel 30.
Look with me at nine actions David takes in this chapter that led to victory in this situation. I’m not giving these to you as a formula. I simply want us to see some of the principles David operated in. I want you to see a godly person responding well to a crisis.
I. (vs 4 read) David WEPT!
He expressed his grief along with all the others. He was not ashamed to express the emotion he felt at the time. That is a healthy thing to do! David did not consider himself so spiritual that he was above that. He was willing to be vulnerable; people loved him for that. Sometimes leaders think they have to be strong and restrain all their emotion. We will see that David is strong—but he is strong in the Lord—not in a carnal, prideful way.