Spiritual Rumination by Julia Phillips

I admit I love camping between Psalms and Proverbs, and all the books of the New Testament. But when I read the Old Testament it takes a lot of time, study, and rumination. It can be captivating, and you can discover many treasures. David is my hero. I just studied an event in his life, and I was so encouraged by his reaction to his circumstances. I hope you are too.

I’m going to present this particular battle within David’s life almost like a play.

Here is the scene: David and his band of 600 loyal men were on the run from King Saul, who was trying to apprehend him and kill him. At one point the small army encamped in a town called Ziglag, where they settled their families. They were a long way from home. In face they had landed in Philistine territory. From there they went out to do battle, leaving their wives and children behind.

After one battle, David and his army were making a three-day trip back home when their village was suddenly raided by the Amalekites. This fierce enemy kidnapped the families of David and his men and burned down the entire town.

Imagine the scene as David and his army returned. “They came to the city, and behold, it was burnt with fire, and their wives, and sons, and their daughters were taken captive.” 1 Samuel 30:3.

These mighty men must have been struck mute as they saw the scene.

If you recall, David’s mighty men included those men running from debts, convicts, and felons. Misguided men who had not succeeded in normal, everyday life.

What they were looking at hit them like a bullet to the chest.

I can picture them walking around the town, kicking ashes, and shouting the names of their wives and children. “How could this happen? Why would God ever allow something so horrible?”

Here is what the Bible says, “Then David and the people that were with him lift up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.” 1 Samuel 30:4.

Have you ever felt that way? Even in a less traumatic way? I know I have.

In these past months I have been hit so many times I pleaded with the Lord. “Why? Lord if I am spiritually stubborn, please tell me in a way I can comprehend — understand. Have I done wrong and failed to repent? Have I left something undone? If so, please forgive me.”

Then I recall the instruction, “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trials which are to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad, with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:12-19.

We all experience seasons like these. We just don’t understand the reasons or purposes at that time or season of suffering. It is vital we draw nearer to God during these times. We must resist blaming others around us, especially those closest to us, as well as resist becoming double-minded. We are learning to speak out loud what the Lord has said about our situation and not just what we see and feel through it. Through it. Giving thanks through it.

This scene from David’s life shows us there is most certainly a time to weep when calamity strikes. The Bible’s description of David’s mighty men shows us these were battle-hardened men who wouldn’t normally cry with one another.

This was no small disaster. It wasn’t just the loss of homes, cattle, or crops. They were terrified because they feared the loss or deaths of their entire families.

There are some “trials” we go through that are so painful in one way or another we feel we may not survive. There are even times when after you’ve reached your “limit,” things somehow get even worse — seven times hotter.

For David it got much worse. “David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved.” 1 Samuel 30:6.

After all was destroyed, thinking all families kidnapped or dead including David’s, now all the people and fellow soldiers blamed David. Talk about feeling rejected, confused, and unappreciated. I think David was in a season of severe need of help and encouragement.

Like our nation today, Isaiah in the Old Testament talked about living in a time of weeping, fear, and trembling. Yet at the same time, the Lord gave him a word of assurance for his people in the same land. 

“Strengthen the weak hands and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, fear not; behold your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; He will come and save you.” Isaiah 35:3-4.

The Lord was commanding us to strengthen the exhausted. Build up those who are weak among you. Encourage everyone you can. Comfort those who are afraid, full of anxiety, or living in one very long battle. That is an assignment as members of the Body.

Solomon tells us all about the various seasons we walk through in this pilgrimage on earth. However, it is only effective when we do it in God’s timing, for His purpose, and in His will.

Again. I cannot fathom what David must have felt like after all he had done for God’s people; all those he adopted out of prison, debt, or jails — only to be blamed and threatened to be stoned to death. Talk about a time when the majority would scream, “God where are you? I have done what You wanted! You said I was a man after Your own heart — but look at me and my situation. They think this is my fault. I feel like I am missing a huge piece of the puzzle.” I would be exasperated. What about you?

In my opinion this is close to what is happening in our country right now. It looks like chaos everywhere you turn. Thousands upon thousands killed from the illegal drugs and fentanyl flowing through our borders into every state, including Alaska and her cities. Human trafficking. Men calling evil good, and good evil. Dozens of cops attacked by being stoned with large rocks or ambushed and shot; or mowed down as they were yesterday.

Similar to what David’s men did upon witnessing the loss of all they owned and had worked for, and seeing all their children and wives kidnapped by one of the cruelest tribes in history, what do people do when they face such sudden, horrific, indescribable tragedies? They weep until there are no more tears to weep. They groan.

These men, like what we would call a Seal Team or Delta Force, lost all hope. But it all happens so fast, and feeling helpless they quickly forget the deep, trusting, loving relationship they had shared with David through the long list of battles, celebrations, laughs, relationships between their wives and children.

What did they do? Began picking up stones to take out all their pain and frustration to those closest to them. Precisely what is happening across our country.

The old blame-game.

It is critical we guard ourselves against this. When we experience things that just feel so unfair, huge, and sense we are on the edge of a crevice, what or how should we respond? It is not to be an irrational reaction.

First, we forget about how we got where we are. Forget about who is responsible. Most of all, forget about all those personal what-ifs. “What if I had done this, or that, everything would be better.

What was David’s response? “David encouraged himself in the Lord.” 1 Samuel 30:6.

David decided to fight all his fears and doubts by remembering all of God’s past deliverances in his life.

Our God is Faithful.

Even when we do not understand things happening around us, or even suffer like David and his mighty men, God promised to return all that had been stolen including their wives, children, and grandchildren. He will do the same for us and more.

I challenge you this week to get into the Word like never before. God has a plan for your life and that plan unfolds day by day, even hour by hour. As you seek to hear that still small voice of the Holy Spirit, don’t allow yourself to seek for only your own answers.

Remember, “Say to them that are of a fearful heart, be strong, fear not; behold, your God will come with vengeance, even with a recompence; He will come and save you.” Isiah 35:4.

The word “save” is the word “sozos,” which means “to heal and make whole; spirit, soul, and body; nothing missing, nothing broken. When you begin your day with “Not my will but Thine be done,” we can be assured that no matter what we face day after day, God already knows and has prepared a way of escape as well as will bring Glory to the Lord of all while we give thanks through it all.

Ruminate on that.