Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. 1 Sam 30:6
1 Samuel ends with a great victory for David, and a great defeat for Saul – his death, and the death of all his sons who should have been king after him. And a defeat for all Israel – the people of Israel fled their cities to the mountains, and the Philistines came and dwelt in their towns. Seeming utter defeat!
It was seeming utter defeat for David also: first he had been rejected by Saul. Then he had been rejected by the Philistines. Then, David and his men went to their town, and found every home burnt to the ground, every man’s family taken captive, and every possession they owned taken away. The men were ready to stone David for the loss of their wives and children, but “David strengthened himself in the LORD.”
This was the biggest defeat David had ever experienced in his life. He had remained walking in righteousness from the first day to the last, but he had just spent years living as an outlaw in the wilderness, with Saul seeking his life, and the only king who appreciated him was a king of the Philistines, Israel’s great enemy. But even as an outlaw, he had his family. He had his men.
Now at this moment, he had been rejected by Saul, he had been rejected by the Philistines, he had been rejected by his own men. His wives and children were gone, his home was gone, everything he had ever had was gone. It was the lowest point of his life.
I am sure the enemy was beating him up good in his mind with lies, and rejoicing over the triumph he had gotten over David. But what David did is what we must learn to do: David strengthened himself in the LORD. In other words, he refused to give in to lies and fear. He refused to believe the message of rejection that the enemy was giving him, and instead remembered that he had a covenant with the Creator and Ruler of the universe.
The Psalms are full of the pattern David used to strengthen himself in the LORD: he would acknowledge that all kinds of trouble was going on in his life, then he would remind himself of how great God is, and how wonderfully He has come through for Israel in the past, and how faithful He is to His word, and how surely God will turn this horrible situation around and deliver him, and bring glory to His name! And the psalm would end with rejoicing and praise!
Beloved, we must go and do likewise, for the seeming defeat at Ziklag turned into a great victory for David over the Amalekites. David recovered what was lost and sent the spoil of Judah back to her towns. And, we will see in 2 Samuel, that the seeming defeat for Israel at Mount Gilboa, God will turn into great victory for David over the Philistines, which will usher him into the kingship of Israel for which he had been anointed.
Now what if David had returned to Ziklag, gave in to despair, and did not strengthen himself in the LORD? The enemy would have won. People, the battle we are engaged in is with a defeated foe. Jesus has already made a public spectacle of him, and has already stripped him of all his arms and armor (Col 2:15). The only way he can defeat us, is to try to get us to give up. If we do not give up, if we strengthen ourselves in the LORD, and go on, victory is waiting for us in the LORD our God!