Sometimes, when we know the outcome of a person’s life as something really impressive, we assume that life was a kind of “cake-walk” for that person.  However, if we knew all that such a person had to deal with in life, we would know that it almost certainly had its times of fear and discouragement, just like it does for us.

I was thinking of this as I read about the life of David this morning from 1 Samuel 23.  Since we know the outcome of David’ life, it’s easy for us to think that he “had it made” from the very beginning and never had any serious doubts about how it was all going to turn out.  But as you read a chapter like this one, you realize that at the time he didn’t know the outcome of things with any real certainty (the way we have come to know it) in spite of the fact that he had experienced assurances and victories in the past.  We need to remember that he is running from Saul who is hot on his tail and getting closer all of the time.  There is no doubt in my mind that David must often have feared how things were going to come out for him.  Would Saul suceed in trapping him?  Would he be betrayed to Saul?  Would he really come to inherit the throne for which Samuel had anointed him?

How did David handle this uncertainty?  How did he manage to stay afloat while also leading the 600 people who had come to live with him?  The answer to these questions lies in the fact that David turned to the Lord, that he was encouraged by others like his good friend Jonathan, and that God ordered circumstances for his protection.  David found strength in prayer and the help of others in prayer (Abiathar).  It is also significant that he had a friend like Jonathan who searched for David specifically to encourage him “to stay strong in his faith in God.”  (We all need those kinds of people in our lives, and we need to be those kind of people for others whose faith is sometimes fragile.)  In the end it is clear that God ordered David’s protection and care.  Just as Saul was closing in on David, Saul received an urgent message that the Philistines were raiding Israel again.  Saul was compelled to give up the chase!  Ah, sweet victory!  In the end, David experienced strong confidence in God.  Consider that it might have been at a time like this that he penned the words of Psalm 23 – “The Lord is my shepherd…”

Even though we know the Lord through faith in Christ and are assured of His protection and blessing (“to live in the house of the Lord all the days of our lives”) we easily fall prey to doubt and fears about whether things are going to come out alright.  We should take courage from people like David that though they feared for their lives and were probably at their wits end with worry sometimes, they found strength and courage in prayer, in good friendship, and in God’s amazing providence.

ED

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