Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Situations of stress are never pleasant, but often God uses them to get our attention and set us back on track.
David experienced serious stress when his hometown was destroyed by fire and his family captured. The result, a future king returns to God. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line.
Pastor Lutzer, why does God put some believers through the fires of affliction while others have lives of ease? Dave, before I answer your question, I want to go down memory lane. Putting the question that way reminds me of the first message I ever preached. I was 16 years old.
I was in 12th grade in Canada where I went to high school. And at the end of the message, I asked this question based on a song, must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease while others fought to win the prize and sail through bloody seas? Your question, Dave, why are some taken through deep trials and others seem to escape them? Ultimately, I have no answer. God leads his dear children along by name and each often takes a different path.
But this much I know, every believer has the opportunity to be faithful or unfaithful no matter what happens in their lives. We want to thank the many of you who support the ministry of running to win. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com.
When you're there, click on the endurance partner button or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And that's exactly what Akish king of Gath does. He said, fine. He said, you can have ziklag. Well, David and his men are living there.
They were there for one year and four months, 16 months. And one day David goes to his mailbox and he discovers that there's a note that says, congratulations, your country needs you. We're going to war David and we want you to join our army and fight against your own people, the people of Judah. And David is willing to do that.
You know, you read the text and you say, David, why is it that you don't seem to show more revulsion at the very idea? Chapter 28, it says, David said to Akish, when Akish said, I need you for war, David said to Akish, very well, you shall know what your servant can do. And Akish said to David, very well, I will make you my body guard for life. And David signed on. David signed on.
We pick it up in chapter 29. The Philistines are gathered together and their armies come to Aphek, which is not too far from modern day Tel Aviv. And the lords of the Philistines are preparing for war.
And when you prepare for war, you have the troops march past you. You'll notice it says, verse three, the commanders of the Philistines said, what are these Hebrews doing here? Well, Akish said, look, he said, David's here and everybody. And the commanders say, look, we can't have these guys fight on our side because when the battle goes tough against Judah, they're going to defect.
They are going to become our adversary. So Akish, the king, says to David, he says, David, you know, you have to go back to Ziklag. And look at what David says in verse eight. And David said to the king, but what have I done and what have you found in your servant from the day when I came before you to this day that I may not go and fight against the enemies of the Lord, the king?
David, I think inside is so relieved. He's saying, oh, thank God I don't have to fight against my own people. But on the other hand, he wants to be thought well of by the king of the Philistines.
And so that is his reply. Remember, David is going through a time of vacillation here. This isn't the David we normally think of when we think of King David. Well, he and his men go back to Ziklag. Three days journey they march to Ziklag and guess what? Chapter 30, verse one. And it happened when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day that the Amalekites had made a raid on the desert and Ziklag and had overthrown Ziklag and burned it with fire and they took captive the women and all who were in it both small and great without killing anyone, though David didn't know that, and carried them off and went their way. And when David and his men came to the city, behold, it was burned with fire and their wives and their sons and their daughters had been taken captive. And David and the people who were with him lifted their voices and wept until there was no strength in them to weep.
Hang on to that phrase, there is no strength in them to weep. Moreover, David was greatly distressed, hang on to that word too, because the people spoke of stoning him for all the people were embittered and each one because of his sons and daughters. But David has strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
If David were to write a book sometime, that would be his own story, he could entitle it What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do. Notice he was weakened because he was discouraged because of the long chase, the psychological warfare that Saul had against him. He was weakened when he joined in the Philistines to live there, to look to them, to receive what he thought God wasn't giving him, namely protection. He was further weakened when he began to defend the Philistines, the enemies of God. And now he found himself in a predicament from which he could not seem to extract himself. Now what, David?
You know, that's the way backsliding is, isn't it? There are some people who say, you know, God is not giving me any peace. And because God does not give me any peace, they look to alcohol and they say alcohol can do for me what God can't do. Or because God does not bring into their lives the proper relationships, they may say, I'm going to find relationships that I want to find and do what I want to do, because God is not meeting my demands for friendship and the loneliness that I find within, so I'm going to do my own thing. And then there are people, watch it, who lose money.
They make investments, they overextend themselves, the bubble breaks. And many of these are God's people, and many of them endure it. They say, this is of God, we simply accept it. If we have to lose our house, we lose our house, we'll begin over again. But then there are others who say, oh no, not me, not me. And they begin to make deals and they begin to get involved in illegal kinds of things.
They begin to cut corners, they begin to make sure that they are going to get their money back somehow, some way. And they soon discover that once they've crossed that line and looked to money or to relationships or to anything else other than God, God begins to get their attention. And he usually does it by allowing the thing in which they put their trust to disappoint them and to lead them to despair. That's where we have David here. But I want you to notice David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. You'll notice in verse 1, 6 rather, it says he was greatly distressed. Now, keep your finger in 1 Samuel 30 and turn to Psalm 18.
Psalm 18 very probably was written during this period of time, written when God delivered David from his enemies, from the hand of Saul. And I want you to notice how David pours out his heart to God. I love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress. Well, David, why didn't you say that right at the beginning?
Why did you have to go to Philistine territory for your rock and your fortress? My God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold, I call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised and I am saved from my enemies. I'm going to pick it up in verse 6. In verse 4 he talks about the cords of death encompassing him. Verse 5, the cords of shields surround me. But verse 6, in my distress, I called upon the Lord.
He answered me. I cried to him and he was there. The Hebrew word distress there in verse 6 is the same one in 1 Samuel chapter 30 verse 6 where it says David and his men were greatly distressed, greatly distressed. But he says, I now cried unto the Lord and he heard me.
What do you do when you don't know what to do? You finally cry to God. They that wait upon the Lord renew their strength. God got David's attention. God had jerked his chain and now he was back in fellowship where he belonged.
What happened as a result? Very quickly, number one, he experienced the guidance of God, the guidance of God. Verse 7, David said to Abiathar the priest, please bring me the ephod. Now this was a linen cloak or I should say more like an apron that was worn that enabled people in those days to discern the guidance of God. We don't know exactly how and we don't use that today. We have the Scriptures. We have more information about God than other people do than the Old Testament people I mean to say.
And as a result of that, we don't use the ephod. We don't use such things as Gideon who left a fleece. We follow the path of wisdom through the word, through the counsel of others, through the guidance. But in those days they used an ephod and he inquired of the Lord saying, shall I pursue the band?
Shall I overtake them? And God says, yes David, I will help you to pursue the Amalekites who devastated Ziklag and took your wives and your kids. So he experienced the guidance of God. By the way, if you've not experienced that guidance, it's maybe because you're backslidden, you're out of fellowship. Psalm 32 shows that when I confessed my iniquity to thee and I no longer hid my sin, it is then that God says I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go. I shall guide you with mine eye upon you. He experienced the guidance of God.
He experienced the strength of God. We're back in 1 Samuel 30. You'll notice it says that David and his men wept last part of verse 4 until there was no strength for them to weep.
You can't get much lower than that. We're exhausted. And the fear that David's wives and the children and the wives of his men were dead was so devastating. And he knew that he was at fault.
That's why the text says the people were going to stone him. They were saying, David, this is your fault. What did God do for David when he really began to cry to the Lord? He experienced the wisdom of God. That's just in a moment, but he experienced the guidance of God and he experienced the strength of God, the strength of God. You'll notice that David and his men, they had something to eat, and then they decided to chase the enemy, the Amalekites who had devastated them. And God gave them the strength to do that. I have a friend who, because of a sin that he committed and because of the embarrassment, the incredible embarrassment, he moved to California, set up a series of circumstances to make it look as if he died in one state, ended up in California and even changed his name so that he could live there. And I've met with him many times because he long since has come back into fellowship with God, but I remember how he told me, he said, that to be alone in a place where I didn't know with a changed identity to live deceitfully, he said, when I got out of bed in the morning, I did not know how I could take one step and then a second step and a third step.
Wow. What do you do when you don't know what to do? You cry to God. You cry to God. The guidance of God, the strength of God, the wisdom of God. Here's what happened.
Let me tell you the story. David has 600 men with him. This motley band of volunteers, the Bible talks about them as being base. They are kind of a crass group, but they're loyal to David. And 200 of them were so weary they could not run with David and the others to overtake the Amalekites.
And so what they decided to do is they stayed at Ziklag. All the other ones, the 400, went with David. God providentially provided an Egyptian who told them where the raid and the band were, the band of Amalekites. You have to read the story there to see God's providence. And so David and his men, they go and they treat the Amalekites just as David always treated people.
He kills everybody. And guess what? These people for all of their wickedness had not killed David's wives and the people that they had taken from Ziklag, the other wives and the kids. They probably intended to, but they wanted to have a little bit of sport with them first. And it says in verse 16, they were over the land eating and drinking and dancing because of all of the great spoil that they had taken from the land of the Philistines. That's the Amalekites. They were in a really giddy mood. Verse 17, David slaughtered them from the twilight until the evening and the next day.
Wow. And his wives and his kids come back. And then the men who fought with David, they said, we're not going to give any of these spoils to the 200 guys who were too tired to fight with us.
And you'll notice the text. It says in verse 23, David says, you must not do so, my brothers, with what the Lord has given us, who has kept us and delivered into our hands the band that came against us and who will listen to you in this matter. For as his share is who goes down to the battle, so shall his share be who stays at the baggage. They shall share alike. And so it has been from that day forward that he made a statue and an ordinance in Israel to this day. You missionaries who are listening, you know how important it is, not only if you're out there doing the fighting, so to speak, figuratively speaking, it's important to have people who stay at home and who guard the spoil, as it were. They are your home crowd who keep you informed and who pray for you and who help you fight home battles.
You know what? David made a big mistake in the first place. All the men should never have left Ziggelag. They should have had a contingent of soldiers there. And so David said from now on, those who fight the war and those who stay home and guard the stuff, they are going to share as well.
Two very important concluding and brief lessons. Number one, do you understand, my friends today, why backsliding is such an insult to God, an insult? Do you realize how David insulted God by going to the Philistines for his refuge and strength rather than to the Lord? Because what the backslider is saying is this, God, you aren't meeting my needs. You are not all that you promised. You are not taking care of me the way I think that you should. And because of that, I'm going to do my own thing. You only live once. Well, listen, God was with David.
Yeah, I know eight and a half years is a long time. But David really copped out of the race when he was very close to the finish line. Saul was about to die, as we read in the next chapter.
It was near the end. David should have hung in there, even if he had to go from cave to cave, he should have hung in there with God. Better to be in the wilderness with God than to be in Ziklag with all of its perks under the protection of the enemy. You who today have wandered from God, you know that you hurt God by doing that?
Because what you're saying is, I can't trust you, and you're not coming through. Well, God is coming through with his people. He does. He hangs in there with us. Second important lesson, when you repent, when you repent, God is there.
God is there. Some of you don't know what to do. If the truth were known, maybe this past week, you wept until there was no strength to weep. You are finished. There is no way for you to turn.
No way. The Bible says in Psalm 18, the passage we just read that David wrote in his distress, he said, in my distress I cried to the Lord, and the Lord heard me. The Lord heard me.
How low down does God have to bring you and me until we cry to him? Does it take an accident? Does it take cancer? Does it take a broken relationship?
Does it take a bankruptcy? I don't know what it takes. I suppose for everyone it's different, but God is reaching out to us even by the tragedies and the heartaches of life. It is God who is saying, cry to me.
Cry to me. And David had to learn that lesson again and again and again. You know, the Bible says, I will never leave you nor forsake you. When Jesus was on the cross, he was forsaken by God. At least the fellowship was broken. He said, my God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?
But here's the good news. Because Jesus Christ died on the cross for sinners and because he was forsaken by God, you and I can have the promise that we will never be forsaken by God. I will know never leave you.
I will know never forsake you. Even in the desert with all of its sand and its thirst and its broken relationships and its loneliness and its caves, God is with us. God is with us the whole way.
How much better for David to be able to say, God, God is my refuge, not the Philistines. God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Let us pray. Father, today we do want to pray for those who have wandered away from you and they've been disappointed in you because they've been weary.
They trusted you for certain things and you haven't done them and they expected certain privileges that didn't come their way. They anticipated with great hope a life of happiness and a relationship that was satisfying and instead they've experienced hurt and grief and brokenness and woundedness. Father, would you come to your people today and would you teach all of us that you are still with us? You're there.
You haven't left us. And for those who need to cry to you today, help them to do that for the weary, for the sin laden. And we ask, Father, that those who have drifted might come back to the warmth of your home and the fellowship of your love. And for those who do not know you as Savior, to whom this message may not really apply because they don't know the warmth of the Father's home, we ask today, Father, that you will draw them to Christ.
Help them to understand that Jesus died and if we accept him, we'll never be rejected by you. In Jesus' name, amen. My friend, I want to give you a personal word of encouragement, even on the cross. When Jesus said those words, my God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?
It's the only time in the New Testament where he did not call God Father, but he still said, my God. And you may be in despair today, but at least you can still say, my God, if you know Christ as Savior. Are you blessed as a result of this ministry? If you are, it's because other people have invested in this ministry and they've helped us get running to win in 20 different countries, in four different languages, and of course, around the world through the internet. We trust that you will consider becoming an endurance partner, someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts.
Consider it today. Go to the internet, type in rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com, and when you're there, click on the endurance partner button, rtwoffer.com, the endurance partner button, or call us right now at 1-888-218-9337. Thanks in advance for holding our hands as we get the gospel to many.
You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Erwin Lutzer concluding Conflict Within the Soul, the fifth message in his series Growing Through Conflict, a study in the life of King David. Here's a question for you. Have you ever been angry with God? If so, tune in next time as David's conflict turns to the person of God himself. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-25 22:11:20 / 2023-02-25 22:20:09 / 9