There’s such a contrast between how Saul and David handle conflict. Both contend with adversaries. And while Saul petitions the Lord for guidance, when he doesn’t receive answer (at least not when he wants and needs an answer), he reaches out to a medium in desperation. When I think of Saul, words like facade, desperate, reactive come to mind.
The Philistines assembled and came and encamped at Shunem. And Saul gathered all Israel, and they encamped at Gilboa. 5 When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. 6 And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. 7 Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at En-dor.”1 Samuel 28:4-7, ESV
David is let go from his position with the Philistines, and upon his return home, finds that the Amalekites had raided Ziklag and carried off wives, children, and more. Not only has an enemy taken from him, but the men who were with David are about to turn against him too.
And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep. 5 David’s two wives also had been taken captive, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 6 And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.1 Samuel 30:3-6, ESV
It’s this line that speaks out to me above the others: But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. In David’s great distress–he had just finished raising his voice and weeping with others until he had no more strength to cry and his own men were bitter and willing to kill David (oh if ever there were a time to feel isolated, powerless and panicked, this could well be it)–he strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
I’m so thankful for examples like this. The contrast between Saul and David and the lessons gleaned from each emphasize to me the importance of community and influence. In desperation and fear, I have also felt panic. But when I’m focused on the Lord, he is where I put my trust and strength. If I’m not in God’s Word or around others who know the strength of the Lord, I can feel isolated, powerless and panicked.
Father God, in your mercy and love, you have not left us alone in the world. You have given us your Word, your Son, and your Spirit to strengthen and guide us. Thank you for getting my attention and drawing me close to you.