For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been studying the life of David, a character in the Old Testament of the Bible. I’m intrigued by the story of his life, and by the especially high regard God had for David. Many of us have heard the story of David and Goliath, when David valiantly defeated the giant and saved the Israelites from doom. We know that David went on to become a great king and prepare the way for the coming King of kings. We often hear about the successes in David’s life. Personally, I’ve always focused more on the fame, fortune and prosperity that David enjoyed. Somehow I’ve managed to overlook a very important part of David’s story. David endured some really, really hard times before he became king of Israel. Much can be learned from David’s difficulties.
David’s life was turned upside down on one seemingly average day. Here he was, a shepherd boy, tending his family’s flocks, when suddenly the prophet Samuel came and anointed him the next king over Israel. Soon after that, he defeated Goliath and rescued the Israelite army from the hands of the mighty Philistines. The current king, King Saul, rewarded David by appointing him over 1,000 men. It all sounds great, right? He was even invited to go and sit in the king’s palace to play his harp for the king each day. And then one day, BAM! Saul tried to kill him with a spear to the midsection. David must have thought, “Uh oh, this isn’t going to be so easy after all.” He was forced to leave his new life of fame and comfort, and even his wife, to flee for his life. This event was the catalyst for a long season of trials and hardships for David. He spent the next several years constantly running away from Saul. He was betrayed by people from each town he tried to find rest in. Even the Philistines, the Israelite’s enemies, didn’t want David on their side! If all that wasn’t enough, he came back from one battle only to find that the town where he was staying had been burned and all the women and children had been kidnapped!
Many of the Psalms, a collection of poetry and songs, reflect David’s cries to God during these difficult times in his life. One thing that remains clear is God’s hand of favor on David’s life. God gave David more and more success, despite his struggles, and as a result, Saul became more and more fearful of David. What was David’s secret? How did he persevere through such hardships? This verse in 1 Samuel chapter 30 gives us a clue: “But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” When times were tough, what did David do? He didn’t try to tough it out on his own and just make it through. He turned to the real source of strength, the only one who could save him. I love David’s humility. All of us face hardships in life, and we have the choice of how to react. I want to follow David’s example when I find myself facing difficulties.
How do you react when you find yourself in a difficult time of life, when one thing after another seems to be going wrong? The same God who strengthened David is still alive today, and he is willing to provide the same strength to anyone who asks.