Monday, May 8, 2023

David's family taken captive by the Amalekites

"Thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable." -1st Corinthians 15:57-58

Long ago in David’s life when he was young he faced down Goliath in battle and defeated him. Only by God’s grace. God gave him the victory.

Yet all these years later something has gone wrong. Because David and his 600 men have ended up fighting in the army of the people David fought that day. But by God’s grace, the Philistine army generals didn’t want David with them, they were worried he would betray them.

Goliath was a philistine. And David, in his running from Saul, had ended up in philistine territory. He almost fought for them. But God prevented it.

His men have been camped out at Ziklag for quite a while now. So they go back from the front lines of the war, after being turned away, and they arrive back at Ziklag.

Let’s see what happened next. 1st Samuel 30:1-3: “David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, and had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way. When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive.”

When they arrive back at home base, they find it destroyed. It’s burning rubble. There is smoke in the area. Fires burning. The city is devastated. It was attacked by the Amalekites, another nearby empire. In fact the Amalekites were an empire that Moses and Joshua had to deal with during their time in the wilderness.

Then it says, verses 4-5, “So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel.”

The men are shocked to the core. They look over the ruins, wander the ruins in grief and sorrow. They begin crying, as their families have been taken. Even David’s wives are both gone.

Point number one today, when bad things happen it’s OK to mourn and weep and cry. That is a natural response to sorrow.

Ever heard the phrase, “Real men don’t cry?” Well, that’s false according to 1st Samuel 30. David and his mighty men wept and cried with sorrow. It’s OK to cry and weep and mourn a loss.

But soon the sorrow and tears turn into anger. David’s men want someone to blame.

Then it says, “David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.”

Two things I want you to notice here, first, the men were bitter in spirit because of what they’d lost. Sometimes we as Christians can become bitter in spirit as well. But recognize that we need to find strength in our God when we become bitter.

Recently I had noticed I had become somewhat bitter in my heart. And I had to go to God in prayer and say God please change my heart, renew my heart, soften my heart because I’ve become a bit hardened. And God answered my prayer and softened my heart. Praise the Lord!

Second point, block bitterness if you can, in faith, but if it sneaks in, ask God to renew your heart.

Thirdly, David found strength in the Lord his God. He found encouragement with God. David you could say, was off course here, he was among the philistines, and now things are going downhill fast. He should’ve been in Ziklag, but he wasn’t. He was off helping the philistines. But, David turned back to God here.

So David meets with the pastor. It says in verse 7-8, “Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, 8 and David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?”

“Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”

David consults with God and God speaks through the priest to him, and instructs him to take his men to rescue their families who had been taken prisoner.

And when God commands us to do something, he always makes a way. In the natural it seems impossible, how could they know where the Amalekites went? But God works it out.

It says in verses 9-15, “David and the six hundred men with him came to the Besor Valley, where some stayed behind. Two hundred of them were too exhausted to cross the valley, but David and the other four hundred continued the pursuit.

They found an Egyptian in a field and brought him to David. They gave him water to drink and food to eat— part of a cake of pressed figs and two cakes of raisins. He ate and was revived, for he had not eaten any food or drunk any water for three days and three nights.

David asked him, “Who do you belong to? Where do you come from?”

He said, “I am an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite. My master abandoned me when I became ill three days ago. We raided the Negev of the Kerethites, some territory belonging to Judah and the Negev of Caleb. And we burned Ziklag.”

David asked him, “Can you lead me down to this raiding party?”

He answered, “Swear to me before God that you will not kill me or hand me over to my master, and I will take you down to them.”

Point number four, God makes a way where there is no way. God made sure that this Egyptian slave would end up left behind, so David could help him, feed him, restore him, and then he could find what they’d lost.

Let’s see what happens next, verses 16-20, “He led David down, and there they were, scattered over the countryside, eating, drinking and reveling because of the great amount of plunder they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from Judah. David fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day, and none of them got away, except four hundred young men who rode off on camels and fled. David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back. He took all the flocks and herds, and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock, saying, “This is David’s plunder.””

Point number five, God will restore what you've lost if you turn to Him. 

Here’s the thing, even if you mess up, and ruin things, and go your own way, if you turn back to God, he will restore what you’ve lost. Even if it was your fault. If you repent, turn away from your sin, get back on the right path, he’ll restore you!

But remember how two hundred men stayed behind? Now there is more trouble. 

 In verses 21-25: "Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow him and who were left behind at the Besor Valley. They came out to meet David and the men with him. As David and his men approached, he asked them how they were. But all the evil men and troublemakers among David’s followers said, “Because they did not go out with us, we will not share with them the plunder we recovered. However, each man may take his wife and children and go.”

David replied, “No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the Lord has given us. He has protected us and delivered into our hands the raiding party that came against us. Who will listen to what you say? The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.” David made this a statute and ordinance for Israel from that day to this.”

Just because the soldiers were too exhausted to join David’s men in battle doesn’t mean they should be mistreated.

Point number six, keep a firm eye on mercy (and justice.) Don’t let your emotions get you into sin. Instead, show mercy to those who were sorrowful. That’s what David did here. He shows mercy and love to those who became exhausted. We should do the same for fellow Christians who are exhausted and are having a hard time. Show mercy to them.

And to finish the chapter, verses 26-31: "When David reached Ziklag, he sent some of the plunder to the elders of Judah, who were his friends, saying, “Here is a gift for you from the plunder of the Lord’s enemies.”

David sent it to those who were in Bethel, Ramoth Negev and Jattir; to those in Aroer, Siphmoth, Eshtemoa and Rakal; to those in the towns of the Jerahmeelites and the Kenites; to those in Hormah, Bor Ashan, Athak and Hebron; and to those in all the other places where he and his men had roamed.”

Point number 7, show your repentance with actions. David had been planning to go out with the philistines to fight against Israel his home nation! God prevented this. But David takes the plunder he had taken from his enemies and sends it to Israel, to Judah, as a sort of repentance. He apologizes to God you might say by taking an action, by blessing Israel with some supplies for all them. Praise the Lord.

In the same way, when we hurt someone, or consider those we harmed when we lived in sins, even after becoming a Christian, we should look at ways we can make practical amends. Did you neglect family? Repent in action by spending time with them and calling them more often. Did you steal money? In many circumstances, you should repay it. Did you neglect your home town and it's social structure? Repent by volunteering your time to a local charity. To be clear these practical actions aren't washing away your sins only the blood of Jesus can do that. But they are a witness to the community of Christ's change in your character. 

Our 7 Points today, to apply to your life are as follows:

1. When bad things happen it’s OK to mourn and cry

2. Block bitterness, but if it sneaks in ask god to renew your heart

3. Find strength in the Lord your God when you’re in drama

4. God makes a way where there is no way

5. God will restore all you’ve lost if you repent

6. Keep a firm eye on mercy (and justice)

7. Show your repentance with practical actions.

As always, be reminded of the gospel steps to salvation, here they are: 

1. Admit that you have sinned against God

2. Believe in Jesus His work on the cross as payment for your sins

3. Repent (turn away from) active sins in your life

4. Give your whole life to God and live for Him alone

5. Remain with Christ your whole life, living out holiness