It may surprise you to know that many people did not like King David. And often it was nothing he did but rather a product of his circumstances.
King Saul hated David while he was still a poor shepherd because God anointed David to be the next king. David didn’t ask to be king.
The Philistines despised David because he was a powerful warrior. David was only following God’s instructions into battle.
His wife, Michal, felt contempt for him because he danced before the Lord in praise as the Ark of the Lord was returned to its righteous place. David was only responding to the joy he felt.
Nathan chastised David for committing adultery and murder…Ok, that one was on David’s head.
But the Bible tells us that David was envied, mocked, mistreated, and misunderstood plenty. Many of the Psalms he wrote tell of his anguish, his fear, and his frustration with the people and the situations around him. He was hunted by Saul like a dog and there was a price on his head. David lived on the run and in fear for many years.
In 1 Samuel 29-30 we find yet another moment in which David was afraid for his life because of a situation over which he had no control.
He and his men were living among the Philistines, enjoying the friendship of King Achish. The king declared war against King Saul and the Israelites and asked David and his men to accompany them into battle. David agreed and he and his men followed the Philistine army. When the other Philistines saw them marching at the rear with King Achish they rejected them and told King Achish that David and his posse were not welcomed to join them, so David’s men had to turn around and return home to Ziklag.
When they arrived home they found that the Amalekites had raided their town and taken everything, including their wives and children. The men were heartbroken, bitter, and angry, and began to talk about stoning David as if it was David’s doing!
And it is in the midst of this situation that we find a very short sentence that, I think, defines who David was and why he was called “a man after God’s own heart.” Facing the unjust and unfair wrath of his men, who were threatening him with murder, the writer of 1 Samuel simply states: “But David found strength in the LORD his God” (1 Samuel 30: 6b). The story tells us that David asked God what to do and went on to rescue all that was stolen from them.
Maybe you find yourself in the middle of an unfair situation today. Maybe you are being accused of something you didn’t do. Maybe you are despised for things you have no control over. Maybe you feel misunderstood or mistreated. Even in the middle of God’s will, even while doing His work, even while knowing we are right where we need to be, there are times when, like David, we are mocked, misinterpreted, and even rejected.
How then should we respond? Should we strive to defend ourselves, to set things right, to show the world how wrong they are?
Perhaps there is a time to defend, and a time to set the record straight, and a time to speak up. Even David proclaimed his innocence before Saul in many occasions. But I think 1 Samuel points us to a deeper truth, a failsafe response regardless of the situation.
Scripture directs us to find our strength in the LORD our God. Our strength does not come from talking to others about our situation, or setting things right, or getting back at our attackers. Our strength to face the difficulties that come our way comes from the LORD our God. The simple question is this: where are you looking for strength today?
“I look up to the mountains;
does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.“
(Psalm 121:1-2, The Message)