And David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, “Bring me the ephod.” So Abiathar brought the ephod to David. And David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?” He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.” So David set out, and the six hundred men who were with him, and they came to the brook Besor, where those who were left behind stayed. But David pursued, he and four hundred men. Two hundred stayed behind, who were too exhausted to cross the brook Besor.
They found an Egyptian in the open country and brought him to David. And they gave him bread and he ate. They gave him water to drink, and they gave him a piece of a cake of figs and two clusters of raisins. And when he had eaten, his spirit revived, for he had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days and three nights. And David said to him, “To whom do you belong? And where are you from?” He said, “I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite, and my master left me behind because I fell sick three days ago. We had made a raid against the Negeb of the Cherethites and against that which belongs to Judah and against the Negeb of Caleb, and we burned Ziklag with fire.” And David said to him, “Will you take me down to this band?” And he said, “Swear to me by God that you will not kill me or deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will take you down to this band.” – 1 Samuel 30:7-15 ESV
David had returned home to Ziklag to find it had been plundered and all the women and children taken captive by the Amalekites. His men, fed up with all that had happened over the last few days, were fed up with David’s leadership and threatened to stone him. But we are told, “David drew strength from the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:7 NET). With his wives missing and his life threatened by his own men, David turned to God for help. This was not something unique for David to do, but more recently he had tended to make decisions without God’s input. That’s how he and his men had ended up living in Ziklag, a city smack-dab in the middle of Philistine territory. David had fled to Philistia in order to escape the ongoing pursuit of Saul. But there is no indication that David had sought or received God’s direction or approval to live among the enemies of Israel.
And yet, when the time came and David found himself between a rock and a hard place, he cried out and God heard. When he ran out of options and had no more tricks up his sleeve, he decided to turn to God and found his heavenly Father to have a receptive ear and a heart willing to step into the mess that David had created. All David had to do was reach an end of himself and cry out to the one who was willing and capable of doing something about his predicament: God.
There is something about despair that makes us more dependent upon God. Our moments of helplessness and hopelessness tend to drive us to God and play a big part in releasing His faithfulness. He is always ready, willing and able to save His people, but it requires that we call out to Him. We are reminded of this very fact in the story of God’s intervention on behalf of the people of Israel when they were living as slaves in Egypt.
Years passed, and the king of Egypt died. But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God. God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act. – Exodus 2:23-25 NLT
I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. – Exodus 3:7 NLT
I have seen. I have heard. I am aware. Those three statements from God should create in us a sense of relief and calm as we recognize His care and concern for His people. There is nothing that happens in or to our lives that God does not see. When we cry out, He always hears. And there is nothing we can tell Him of which He is not already fully aware. Our prayers are not meant to inform God of our predicament, but to invite His involvement. God knew full well what David was facing. He was completely aware of the problem David had created for himself and what needed to be done to fix it. So when David sought God’s guidance, he received it. Using the Urim and Thummim, which were kept in the high priest’s ephod, David sought God’s input, asking him two questions:
“Should I chase after this band of raiders? Will I catch them?” – 1 Samuel 30:8 NLT
David wanted to know if he pursue the Amalakites, and, if he did, whether he would be successful in catching them. And God gave him the green light.
“Yes, go after them. You will surely recover everything that was taken from you!” – 1 Samuel 30:8 NLT
Not only would David catch them, he would recover everything they took, including all the women and children, as well as all the livestock and loot they had plundered. God was going to bless David – in spite of David. God was going to rescue David out of the pit he had dug for himself and assuage the anger and resentment of David’s men. And all David had to do was draw strength from the Lord. He had to place his hope in and seek his help from the Lord. This would be yet another valuable life lesson for David and would contribute to his ongoing education in the power and presence of God. He would later turn what he had learned in moments like this into beautiful words of praise.
But in my distress I cried out to the Lord;
yes, I prayed to my God for help.
He heard me from his sanctuary;
my cry to him reached his ears. – Psalm 18:6 NLT
He went on to write these words which could have been penned as a direct result of this very circumstance in David’s life.
I chased my enemies and caught them;
I did not stop until they were conquered.
I struck them down so they could not get up;
they fell beneath my feet.
You have armed me with strength for the battle;
you have subdued my enemies under my feet. – Psalm 18:37-39 NLT
God is always there when we call. The problem is that we don’t call on Him enough. We tend to try and solve our problems on our own. Either we doubt that God can or that He will intervene on our behalf. Or we have somehow convinced ourselves to believe that our solution will be just as effective as anything He comes up with. But when we finally reach the point where our circumstances cause us to give up and cry out, God hears and answers.
The Lord lives! Praise to my Rock!
May the God of my salvation be exalted! – Psalm 18:46 NLT
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.