Wednesday, December 30, 2020

2020.12.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Samuel 30

Read 1 Samuel 30

Questions from the Scripture text: To where did David and his men return, how long had they been gone, and what had happened (1 Samuel 30:11 Samuel 30:31 Samuel 30:5, cf. 1 Samuel 27:5–6)? What had the Amalekites not done (1 Samuel 30:2)? How did David and his men respond (1 Samuel 30:4)? Of what did the men speak and why (1 Samuel 30:6)? In Whom does the text mention David strengthening himself (for the first time in a while, end of verse 6!)? For what does David ask (for the first time in a while, 1 Samuel 30:7, cf. 1 Samuel 23:1–13!)? Of Whom does David inquire (for the first time in a while, 1 Samuel 30:8, cf. 1 Samuel 23:1–13!)? What does Yahweh say? How many go with David in 1 Samuel 30:9? How many were left behind and why (1 Samuel 30:10)? Whom do the four hundred find (1 Samuel 30:11)? What do they give him and why (1 Samuel 30:12)? What does David ask, and whose servant does he turn out to be (1 Samuel 30:13)? What does he confirm (1 Samuel 30:14)? For what does he ask in order to help David (1 Samuel 30:15)? In what condition do they find the Amalekites (1 Samuel 30:16)? What does David do, and with what success in 1 Samuel 30:17-19? What additional spoil do they take (1 Samuel 30:20)? To whom do they return in 1 Samuel 30:21? What kind of men were among David’s men (1 Samuel 30:22)? What did they want to do? What reasoning does David give for opposing them (1 Samuel 30:23)? What rule does he establish in Israel, upon the basis of this reasoning (1 Samuel 30:24-25)? What does David do with some of his portion (1 Samuel 30:26-31, cf. 1 Samuel 27:10)?

Sometimes, the Lord brings us to the extremity of desperation to snap us back to our senses and grow us in grace. We had noted in chapters 27 and 29—when discerning the Spirit’s opinions on David’s actions as a backdrop for God’s unmerited grace—that during this stint of his life it seemed like everyone but David seemed to be inquiring of Yahweh. 

But the Lord now brings him back to asking the priest for the ephod (1 Samuel 30:7), back to inquiring of Yahweh (1 Samuel 30:8), back to obeying Yahweh (1 Samuel 30:8-9), back to crediting Yahweh for his protection (1 Samuel 30:23) and crediting Yahweh for his prosperity (1 Samuel 30:26). He has gone from “now I shall perish someday by the hand of Saul” and simply trying to escape (1 Samuel 27:1) to providing for God’s people and galvanizing support for his coming kingdom (1 Samuel 30:26-31). He was hindered from doing this before by his unbelieving strategy of trying not to let word get out of his helping the people of God!

There is instruction here for what to aim at in terms of maintaining a life of calling upon the Lord (prayer) and seeking His instruction (hearing Bible preaching, reading the Bible, etc.). There is instruction here for living by the wisdom that seeks to serve God and His people as well as possible, more than the mere shrewdness that is involved in trying to protect ourselves and provide for ourselves.

But the thrust of the text seems to be about the extremity to which the Lord brought His servant in order to set him back into these paths. David and his men hadn’t been permitted to participate in the war (1 Samuel 29:10-11), so the exhaustion of 200 warriors in 1 Samuel 30:10 was that of the weeping in 1 Samuel 30:4. Apparently the only thing the men still had energy for at that point was for executing their leader (1 Samuel 30:6). In many other difficulties David had his men, and the comfort of the good and wise women who loved him dearly, but now these last supports had been taken away!

We see what God is sometimes after in the difficulties of our lives. Not trial for trial’s sake, or even just for growth’s sake, but sometimes for repentance’s sake. David was under fire from Saul, but he responded in unbelief (chapter 27). Perhaps he thought he was responding in wisdom (many commentators on 1 Samuel seem to think so!). Then David was under fire from the Philistines, before a king of Gath (1 Samuel 28:1–2, 1 Samuel 29:1-5), and didn’t respond with the former holy boldness with which he had faced a champion from Gath (1 Samuel 17:45–47, as called to mind by 1 Samuel 29:5).

But, until David repented, the Lord kept bringing him even lower. Providence pulled the Amalekite hammer out of the bag and brought it down on God’s wayward servant until he was wifeless, friendless, and under threat from even the men whom he had found dependable in many hard circumstances until now.

We may think, after a sustained streak of hard trials, that the suffering is complete. But, if we belong to God by faith in Christ, He has purposes in all of our trials—including and especially our repentance (cf. Hebrews 12:3–14). So until we arrive at that holiness in which we will see the Lord, let us not be surprised if, however low the Lord has brought us, His wisdom and love deem it necessary to bring us even lower. And, let us always be ready to ruthlessly consider what repentance might yet be necessary in the current state of our heart and behavior.

What great trial have you faced/been facing? Why might it get harder? What is one thing you should be doing in light of it? To Whom should you look for wisdom to do this? At what is He always aiming for you?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH231 “Whate'er My God Ordains Is Right”


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