Thursday, July 28, 2005

When It Goes From Bad to Worse

The timeline's a little fuzzy, but as best we can figure it David spends 10 years bouncing from cave to cave -- running for his life. And from a human perspective, it looks like God's promises aren't going to come true. This is not like having a bad day or a bad week. David is having a bad decade!

He wasn't completely alone during this time. He had some people who gathered around him and formed a little community, but they weren't a real promising group. The Bible says, "All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him" (1 Samuel 22:2).

This is David's community: the distressed, indebted and discontented.

Q: What's worse than one depressed guy in a cave?

A: 400 depressed guys in a cave.

So, they bounce around for a while and eventually establish a refugee camp in a place called Ziklag. They actually get married and raise families, and periodically they'd go out and raid an enemy village. That's how they survived. But one day they come home to find that their little camp was gone -- burned to the ground. Their wives and children were gone -- taken captive. These men -- outlaws and fugitives from their own country -- established a refugee camp where they could raise their kids -- and now it's all gone. "So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep" (1 Samuel 30:4).

Have you ever wept like that? Wept until there aren't any more tears left? Wept until you can barely stand up?

Then, believe it or not, things go from bad to worse for David: "David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him..." (30:6a).

Here's David -- a fugitive from his own country, his own king trying to kill him, his mentor is dead, the Philistines don't trust him, his wife and kids are gone, his best friend is gone, his ragged little community of friends is ready to stone him. There's no one left to turn to. And next comes one of the greatest statements in the entire Bible: "But David found strength in the Lord his God" (v. 6b).

It's great to find strength in others. To gather together in little groups of people and find strength in friendships. It's fantastic that we can read a book or listen to a CD that encourages. But when you're in the cave, and there's no one to turn to -- you can find strength in God alone. That's a skill we all need to cultivate.