“And when he had taken him down, behold, they were spread abroad over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing, because of all the great spoil they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah. And David struck them down from the twilight until the evening of the next day, and not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men, who mounted camels and fled. David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken, and David rescued his two wives. Nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken. David brought it all back. David also captured all the flocks and herds, and the people drove the livestock before him, and said, ‘This is David’s spoil.” (I Samuel 30:16-20 ESV)
David wasn’t perfect. There are many examples in the Bible of his mistakes. But he was a man after God’s own heart. He pursued God’s ways. When he fought the Amalekites and won, it was because God was on his side. Saul, on the other hand, had been influenced by the idolatry of his numerous wives. When fighting the Philistines things did not go as well for him.
“The battle pressed hard against Saul, and the archers found him, and he was wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, ‘Draw your sword and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and mistreat me.’ But his armor-bearer would not, for he feared greatly. Therefore Saul took his own sword and fell upon it. And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died. Thus Saul died; he and his three sons and all his house died together. And when all the men of Israel who were in the valley saw that the army had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their cities and fled, and the Philistines came and lived in them.” (I Chronicles 10:3-7 ESV)
Saul felt trapped and desperate. He asked his armor-bearer to kill him. When he wouldn’t, he took his own life. This led to the armor-bearer taking his own life and the trend continued. What a contrast in the endings of both battles.
Many years later, the apostle Paul addresses the elders of Ephesus, giving them advice on how to live through the fire.
“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:18-32 ESV)
When trials come our way, we have choices to make. Do we press on and fight the good fight of faith or do we fall on our swords? Are we on high alert, using keen discernment as the events unfold or do we get captured by the wolves? I pray we all choose well.