In Scripture, being with the people of God implies being in the presence of God. David had been living away from both for some time. It seems clear that his relationship with God was weaker as a result. Certainly no mention of God is there for a few chapters. The fugitive David never looked less like a future king than at the beginning of 1 Samuel 30.
He was resigned to sitting out the next great battle between the Philistines who had taken him in and his own people who had rejected him. It is hard to imagine the horror of returning to your town and finding it burned to the ground, and realizing that the entire group’s wives and children had been kidnapped. Having been rejected by King Saul and those loyal to him, and rejected by the Philistines, David is now rejected by his own band of followers. The communal weeping in which David played his own part led to bitterness from David’s followers, who spoke openly of stoning him. It is hard to imagine David sinking any lower.
Sometimes God allows things to happen in our lives that bring us close to despair. Situations seem to get worse and worse. We don’t know where to turn. Any illusions we may have had that following Jesus would lead to all our problems simply disappearing are shattered. Hope seems broken. Faith is fading. We simply cannot see any way out.
At David’s lowest moment he demonstrates to us that there IS a way out. There is a vital first step that with God’s help leads us step by step away from staring into the abyss. When you feel truly alone, the reality is that Another is there with you. The Bible tells us that David “strengthened himself in the LORD his God.”
There is strength to be found in a relationship with God. Perhaps David remembered his friendship with Jonathan, who had previously helped David, to find God at a time of difficulty:
And Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God. (1 Samuel 23:16)
David in his despair reached out to God. At moments like that, we do grieve, but we do so in a different way to those who have no hope. David’s relationship with God is here shrouded in mystery and secrecy. It is a private matter. And yet, we have a whole book of the Bible that reveals to us exactly how David found strength in God at other times. If you read the book of Psalms you will find such raw honesty. No matter how you are feeling you will find a psalm that will resonate with you. Psalms often begin with raw honesty, but lead us back to faith in God.
If you are in the middle of a difficult time, may you too find the strength that comes from God. This is the very same strength that centuries later the Apostle Paul would describe:
But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. (2 Timothy 4:17 ESV)
At a moment like that, even while the situation around you has yet to change, YOU have changed. When you face challenges WITH God, you no longer face them alone. When you receive strength from God, you are no longer weak. As faith begins to rise, fear subsides. As hope is reborn, despair dies.
As the chapter continues we do see the deliverance of God. But, like David, we do not need to wait until God saves us FROM our troubles before he saves us IN our troubles.