Bible Readings for September 5th
The narrative of 1 Samuel 30 describes to us the final trial David must undergo as the leader of an underground movement before he becomes the king of Israel. Although Saul has wanted to kill David for quite some time, David has never before faced threats to his life from those around him. But in 1 Samuel 30, David faces persecution even from those who had sought his protection in the wilderness.
In 1 Samuel 29, David is expelled from the Philistines, who had given David refuge in his exile from Saul. If David had gone off to battle, he and his men would not have discovered that the Amalekites had plundered their camp, taking their wives and children captive. But because the Philistines rejected David, he and his men have enough time to pursue the Amalekites and rescue their families.
As we look back on our study of David up to this point, it is clear that God ordained a long period of preparation—that is, a long period of suffering—for David before installing him as king. But perhaps none of the trials were as devastating as this betrayal. We read in 1 Samuel 30:6 that “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.” In their despair, the people closest to David, those whom David had defended with his life, are now considering whether to stone him!
It is always this way with the leaders of God’s people. The people of Israel were ready to stone Moses (Ex. 17:4), and Jesus pointed out how the people in the capital city of Jerusalem—not in some pagan city in a foreign nation—killed God’s prophets and stoned those sent to it (Matt. 23:37). Ultimately, when Jesus entered this world, he came to be persecuted. His mission was to be betrayed by one of his disciples, despised, mocked, beaten, spit upon, and finally executed on the cross—and all so that he could receive his kingdom from the hand of his Father. The way of the cross is the path by which God prepares his people for glory.
Persecution and suffering, then, are unavoidable components of how God forges his leaders. We have hope, however, in knowing that God is actually accomplishing something real and important through even our most painful suffering. As Paul writes, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17). How, then, do you face the suffering in your own life? Do you, like David, “strengthen yourself in Yahweh your God,” or do you seek to rid yourself of suffering by any means possible? What might God be seeking to accomplish through the trials he sends to you?
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.