We will all face hard times in the life as a disciple. It's vital that we learn to help one another find strength in God at these times.
1 Samuel 23:1-6
1 When David was told, "Look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are looting the threshing floors,"
2 he inquired of the Lord, saying, "Shall I go and attack these Philistines?" The Lord answered him, "Go, attack the Philistines and save Keilah."
3 But David's men said to him, "Here in Judah we are afraid. How much more, then, if we go to Keilah against the Philistine forces!"
4 Once again David inquired of the Lord, and the Lord answered him, "Go down to Keilah, for I am going to give the Philistines into your hand."
5 So David and his men went to Keilah, fought the Philistines and carried off their livestock. He inflicted heavy losses on the Philistines and saved the people of Keilah.
6 (Now Abiathar son of Ahimelech had brought the ephod down with him when he fled to David at Keilah.)
This city was going down. In those days, when you lost the battle you lost everything. God told them to go, but the men were afraid. David prayed again, and they went. The people were so fired up to have been rescued. It was an awesome time.
1 Samuel 23:7-12
7 Saul was told that David had gone to Keilah, and he said, "God has handed him over to me, for David has imprisoned himself by entering a town with gates and bars."
8 And Saul called up all his forces for battle, to go down to Keilah to besiege David and his men.
9 When David learned that Saul was plotting against him, he said to Abiathar the priest, "Bring the ephod."
10 David said, "O Lord, God of Israel, your servant has heard definitely that Saul plans to come to Keilah and destroy the town on account of me.
11 Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me to him? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O Lord, God of Israel, tell your servant." And the Lord said, "He will."
12 Again David asked, "Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me and my men to Saul?" And the Lord said, "They will."
David and his men just saved an entire town, and they expect some gratitude. Unfortunately, they aren't getting any.
1 Samuel 23:13
So David and his men, about six hundred in number, left Keilah and kept moving from place to place. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he did not go there.
It's not so exciting to move from place to place. We all dream of being able to stay somewhere for a while.
1 Samuel 23:14-16
14 David stayed in the desert strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands.
15 While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that Saul had come out to take his life.
16 And Saul's son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.
1. Help Disciples To Stay Humble, Don't Humiliate Them
David was down at this point. People weren't grateful for his help. He only wanted to help Saul. Saul was down on him, Keilah was ungrateful. When we're talking the desert of Judea, we're talking real desert.
David a man of God had to run from place to place. Even though he saved the people of Keilah, we are seeing that the Lord telling him the people of Keilah will hand David to Saul. David had to stay in the desert. Day after day Saul searched for David. But God did not give David into his hands.
The best thing someone can do to David is helping him and finding strength in God. Jonathan the son of Saul did that to him. He helped David to stay humble. All of us need people to help us find strength in God from time to time.
When our Christians go through struggles we need to help them stay humble. We need to help them find strength in God. We should never humiliate them by using words which will make them feel hurt. Jesus said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you . . .". Treat them as you would want to be treated. Be encouraging, build them up, show respect for their experiences at this point. God has chosen them to be disciples.
2. Provide Disciples A Safe Place
In the ancient world, if somebody was accidentally killed they had to get payback. Even though it was an accident, emotions ran so high that people had to get revenge. God understood this in the Old Testament, and provided cities of refuge. You had to stay there until the High Priest died, and as emotions died reason took over. The relatives of the dead man could say, "It was only an accident, after all".
You could also run to the horns of the altar, grasp onto them. According to law, you couldn't be punished while holding onto the horns of the altar. The altar, like the cities of refuge, provided a safe place where emotions could die down. When we get emotional, we don't think logically. Emotions run so high that you just don't think straight. This happens with pain as well.
When we are having a tough time, when we are struggling with emotions, we need a safe place. The safe place is God. When people are going through tough times, it would be great to pray with them. That is the safest place we can take them to.
3. Help Disciples To Build Foundational Blocks
In our 30's and 40's, something interesting begins to happen to us. A brother tore the ligament in the knee when he was 19 years old. The doctors just opened it up and cut it out. It left the knee destabilized, but he was young and strong and kept on functioning. The destabilized knee started to grind out the cartilage on the inside of the knee. It never hurt him in his 20's, but it certainly has started to hurt in his 30's and 40's. Many of us are starting to have symptoms from injuries that happened years ago. Many of these injuries are emotional hurts. May feel you need counseling.
The way to deal with this is to back up and rebuild the foundation under that part of our life. It's hard to do. No time. Marriage, parenting, your own heart--these get neglected and then catch up with you.
Many of us have these things that come back to haunt us later in life. We can't go back and rebuild if we're so busy. Need a bit of relief from the pressure to give us time to get these things resolved. Ultimately, we'll have our best years later in life, if we rebuild our foundation.
1 Samuel 24:3-7
3 He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave.
4 The men said, "This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, 'I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.' " Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul's robe.
5 Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe.
6 He said to his men, "The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord's anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the Lord."
7 With these words David rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way.
Saul comes in, and David's men were persuading him to attack. Obviously, David had some of these feelings in his own heart. He wasn't an angel. David cuts off a corner of his robe, but then his conscience gets the best of him. David knew how to fight the fight and be powerful in some ways, like against Goliath. God put him in the cave to change his heart, to work on his own conscience.
None of David's men were condemning him; it was his own heart for God. It takes more effort, more sacrifice and more time to get a good conscience than to train a top-class athlete, musician or businessman. Ambition is good, but a pure heart is better.
1 Timothy 6:6
Godliness with contentment is great gain.