Message by Andrew Chisholm 
Life Group Discussion Study by Andrew Chisholm & Steve Chao

Like all Old Testament stories, the life of David serves as an example for all of us (1 Cor 10:11).  The stories from David’s life invite us to use our God-inspired imaginations to reflect on how we can live effective Christian lives.  As Christians, we should read these stories through the lens that reveal the greatness of God in Jesus Christ.  In order to engage more with the stories, we can also reflect on different characters in the story and what we can learn from them. In this study we are going to reflect on a well-known story from the end of the first book of Samuel which is sometimes called “the Amalekite Raid.” I have called it “Ready to Run and Willing to Wait.” It is not just a story about a battle won, but it is also a story about being ‘ready to run’.  We can now look at the story from the point of view of three characters or groups of people.

First some background.  In the earlier chapters of 1 Samuel we read how David ran away from the murderous Saul and eventually sought refuge in the land of the Philistines.  David entered temporarily into the service of the enemy of Israel King Achish of Gath. David and his men and their families then began living in Ziklag, a land given by Achish (1 Sam. 27).  However, his loyalty was neither to Saul nor Achish (1 Sam. 21:12-15; 27:8-12) but to the Lord.

The Amalekite Raid
Our story is taken from Samuel 30:1-31.  The Amalekites had attacked and ransacked Ziklag and taken captive all the family members of David and his 600 men while they were away fighting elsewhere.  When David and his fighting men returned and saw what had happened to their families, they were physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.  It thus seems appropriate that the Hebrew word ‘Ziklag’ sounds like ‘pressed down’.  So what did David do? David first encouraged himself in God, then inquired of Him for guidance. Through his willingness to wait on God, David discovered strength.  He was thus ‘ready to run’ when God gave the instruction to pursue the Amalekites and recover all that was lost.

The Three Characters:
In the story from 1 Samuel 30, we can identify three main characters or groups of characters and the challenges they were facing.  We can learn some lessons from each of these: 
1.     Distressed David. In the story, we learn how David was distressed yet found strength in the Lord.  He was ready to run after the enemy, because he was willing to wait on God first.  
2.     Angry Avengers. We read about the anger of David’s fighting men who wanted to kill David, but then changed their focus to running after the real enemy.  
3.     Weary Warriors. We discover that some of David’s angry men were so exhausted they could not run or fight any more, yet in the end they still experienced grace and restoration.

(1)   Strength for Distressed David
Scripture: 1 Sam. 30:6-8 and Heb. 4:14-16.
Through-out his entire life, David always found comfort, solace, and reassurance from the God that he implicitly trusted. He derived great strength spiritually, mentally and physically from the Lord. Unlike Saul, David did not usurp the priest but approached the priest to give him the ephod so that he could prepare himself to enquire of the Lord (compare 1 Sam 28:6-7 with 1 Sam 30:6-7). The Lord answered David and reassured David (1 Sam. 30:8). David was ready to run when he encouraged himself in God and waited for the Lord’s instruction.

Just as God’s strength was sufficient for David in his distress, Gods’ strength is also made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor 12:9).  He is also able to guide when we are not sure what to do.  Heb. 4:14-16 reminds us that Christians have an eternal High Priest in Jesus Christ who is able to identify with us, and empathize with our distress and dilemma. He is always near at hand and never far off. We can be reassured that in His mercy and grace He will help all of us in times of difficulty and need.

All of us will encounter stressful situations where there is enormous pressure and often a need to react quickly. Nevertheless, our first port of call should be Jesus. Before we act too quickly and regret a hasty decision, we need to encourage ourselves in God, and inquire of Him as David did.  We will be ready to run in our crises if we are first willing to wait on Him.

Prayer:  Lord help us to find strength in you in every situation.  Give us the boldness to turn and inquire of you as our great high priest.  Grant us mercy and grace in our times of crisis. 

(2)   Focus for Angry Avengers
Scripture: 1 Sam. 30:8-10 and Eph. 6:12.
When they discovered the loss of their families, David’s 600 men were wanted vengeance at any cost. In their extreme anger they had lost their balance and focus. They blamed David and were about to stone him even though David was patient and loyal to them (just as people murmured against Moses in Exod. 14:10-12; 16:2-3). Their grief had turned into anger towards others. But they needed to refocus on the actual enemy.  David could have similarly lost his head and cool. But David knew God.  As he sung in Psalm 4:4-5, ‘In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord’.

It is easy to blame someone else in a crisis. But many times when we face a challenge, our enemy is in our own mind.  We are also fighting a spiritual warfare. As Paul stated in Eph. 6:12, our real enemy is Satan and his cohorts.  So our enemy is not people but evil spirits, spiritual strongholds, anxiety, depression, fear, temptation and so on.  We need wisdom to identify the true source of our problems and the appropriate action we should focus on to overcome our challenges.

Prayer:  Lord we pray for wisdom and the ability to identify our real enemies.  Help us not to be side-tracked into the wrong type of battles.  Help us to focus on the problem rather than blame others.  Give us discernment and guidance to pursue the real issues in life.

(3)   Grace for the Weary Warriors
Scripture: Read 1 Sam. 30:23-25.
God gave grace to David and he in turn was able to pass on grace to others. David knew that the plunder received was given by grace from God and was not his own.  So he shared it with all the warriors.  He gave grace both to the strong and healthy and to those who were weary and exhausted. David showed that he was a giver and not a taker. He was even merciful to the Egyptian who participated in the capture of the Israelites. The fruit of that mercy was richly rewarded. A little kindness goes a long way.

It is human nature to compare and to measure ourselves against others in many areas of our lives.  Yet God shows no favoritism (Rom. 2:11). Remember the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matt. 20:8-16).  Similarly, we should show grace to all, especially those who are facing challenges and struggling in life. Jesus the son of David, our King of Kings showed grace to the weary and those who were over-burdened (Matt 11:28-30).  All of us need that same grace in our own struggles and difficulties when they occur.  We all need grace for the race.

Prayer: Lord help us to show grace to those who are weary and overcome by the challenges of life.  When we are pushed to the point of exhaustion ourselves, grant us grace and strength.  Help us to find a place of rest and recovery as we wait on you.   Help us to run again out of a place of rest (Is 40:31).  Teach us to wait on you so that we are ready to run with you.

Discussion Questions
1. What can we learn from David and the way he handled this crisis?
2. How do you think David encouraged himself in the Lord?
3. In view of these passages, describe how would you deal with your anger when offended?
4. What could we do whenever we encounter weariness and exhaustion?
5. Read Matt. 11:28-30. How are you encouraged when you read these verses?  
6. Are you ready to run and willing to wait?

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