This is what happens when a travelling preacher can't travel and preach!
From being used to travelling widely and preaching often, I now find that I am forced to be stationary and more or less silent! I realise that some people will probably greet this news with enthusiasm but even they will appreciate that it is calling for a radical re-adjustment on my part and on the part of my fellow evangelists.
Last evening I shared a brief message from 1st Samuel 30 with our home group via Zoom. They have asked for me to let them have the notes and I thought that I would make them more widely available. I hope they will be an encouragement. Feel free to reproduce or forward to anyone else whom you think might be happy to receive them.
There are lots of people sending messages, blogging and posting sermons etc. at the moment. I don't intend to put stuff out there and swell their number very often! So let me know if you'd rather not receive anything further from me by way of messages.
Part One: 1 Samuel 30:6
David's life, as 1st Samuel draws to a close, was looking bleak!
He was no stranger to trouble but his problems were multiplying and coming thick 'n' fast.
He was a fugitive and an exile.
His life was at risk from a crazed King.
He was living a dangerous life as a 'double agent'.
He had to endure the constant suspicion of the Philistine generals.
His mercenary army was always unpredictable and had a bent towards violent mutiny.
The throne of Israel, promised long before, seemed as far away and improbable as it ever had!
As if things were not bleak enough, his life was about to get even more troubled.
Read 1 Samuel 30:1-6
David is 'being paid in his own coin' i.e. he is experiencing the suffering that he has inflicted on others.
Because of the Amalekites he has lost:
People who mattered to him
Every way he looked the outlook was bleak.
Where was there any ground for optimism or hope?
Verse 6 Tells us, "David found strength in the Lord his God" (KJAV "David encouraged himself in the Lord his God")
His encouragement came, I suspect, as he reflected on 3 things:
1. God had a personal interest and investment in him.
The Lord was "his" God. God was not some remote and unapproachable deity of uncertain character. He was a God whom David knew and whom he knew to be a loving God.
David had what we evangelicals like to call, 'a personal relationship with God'
He is our God. We are (Psalm 100:3b) "the sheep of his pasture." We have become, through faith in Christ, (John 1:11&12) His children.
2. God had been faithful in the past.
Protecting, preserving and providing.
The God who had "delivered him from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear" (1 Samuel 17:37) and who had given him victory over Goliath and preserved him from Saul's murderous attacks, was a God whom David could trust for the future.
David must have been familiar with the memorial stone set up between Mizpah and Shen (read 1 Sam 7). God was an 'Ebenezer' God - a God who was faithful to his people.
3. God's promises for the future.
As David reflected on God's personal interest and previous faithfulness he must also have found strength in remembering that God had promised him a great future.
God has pledged himself to us, to give us, like a great old hymn puts it, "Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow."
Read 1 Samuel 30:7-20 and note how, encouraged by these things, David sought God's guidance, found help in a timely and unexpected way, received the strength to pursue his enemies and won a notable victory.
Things are looking quite grim at the moment. In a fast changing and uncertain situation it easy for us to be fearful and discouraged. Let's take heart from our personal relationship with the Lord. His interest in us, his previous faithfulness and his promise to be with us and to bring his plans for us, inexorably, to fruition.
One final thought:
David looked to God for his strength. He led 600 of the most accomplished warriors in the region. He had years of experience as a tactician and fighting man (see 1 Samuel 29:5 "David has slain his tens of thousands"). Yet in this situation it was to God that he turned.
Years of fighting, lying, robbing and plundering may have dulled his spiritual 'edge' but it had not entirely destroyed it! Maybe for some of us this emergency has come as a 'wake up call' An opportunity for us to freshen our own relationship with God and to get back to our spiritual roots?
Let's pray that we, the people of our nation, and others will see in this crisis the limits of our human strength and our much trumpeted abilities and the need to humble ourselves and to seek the Lord.