"But David said in his heart, ‘I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape into the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of seeking me any more within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand."
I Samuel 27: 1, Amplified Bible
"Dealing With Discouragement"
"Christian, remember the goodness of God in the frost of adversity."
C. H. Spurgeon
Am I facing a time of discouragement and adversity in my life right now?
Have I tried to solve this problem myself?
Will I allow my Father to make a way for me through my difficulties?
"Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage."
William Ellery Channing
"At the timberline where the storms strike with the most fury, the sturdiest trees are found."
Many years ago, our family went on a camping trip into the Redwood Forest in California where some of the largest trees in the world are located. I remember, as a young girl, standing at the base of one of the giant redwoods and looking up toward the sky. It was as if that mighty tree went on forever -until it almost touched the blue heavens.
As I looked at that huge tree, I thought about all the years it took to grow so large and to become so strong.
It is this thought that comes to my mind as we follow David and his caravan of followers out of Carmel and into a forest of challenges where we will learn how to face adversity and yet, like a Redwood, to still stand strong and tall.
When we meet David in I Samuel 27, he is no longer an abandoned man whose wife, Michal, had been given to another husband. David, himself, had decided to take, not one, but two wives. With an army of 600 men, who also had families to take care of, the road ahead looked ominous to David. Chased around, year after year, by the vindictive King Saul, David allowed the difficulty of the situation to overwhelm him.
I don't fault David for feeling discouraged with the challenges he faced.
Not only was he not safe, but now the women he married, Abigail included, were also on the run from the anger of King Saul. As frequently happens when we have been pulled to the limit and find ourselves backed into a corner, we look for a way out. Sometimes it's an easy way out - and who can blame us. We long for life to be easier. We want things to improve. This is not a ridiculous desire. Who among us loves to have trouble heaped upon our heads all the time? I know I don't and I imagine you don't enjoy living under a cloud of adversity either.
David, like many people, knowing he wasn't safe in Israel, decided to head off to the land of the Philistines. Yes, the very David, who killed the Philistine giant Goliath, decided it would be safer to ask for asylum under the dominion of the Philistines than to stay in Israel and ask his heavenly Father to keep him under the "shelter of His wings." In the valley of discouragement, David forgot who his protector was and went seeking shelter from the enemy of God.
There's a wonderfully instructional statement by Thomas à Kempis which I feel applies directly to the actions David took when faced with the adversity caused by a life on-the-run from King Saul. Here's what he said. "Many love Jesus so long as no adversities happen to them. Many praise Him and bless Him, so long as they receive comforts from Him. But if Jesus hides Himself and withdraws a little while, they fall either into complaining or into a great dejection of mind."
In the case of David, faced with a future that appeared to be filled with one difficulty after another, David took things into his own hands and decided to visit Achish, son of Maech, King of Gath - a Philistine.
Along with his 600 soldiers and his "two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess and Abigail the Carmelitess," David convinced Achish to give him the town of Ziklag.
Home at last! Just like Abraham who wandered off God's path when there was a famine and he became discouraged and didn't know what to do in the face of adversity. Egypt looked like the perfect solution but what a sad mess that turned into.
For David, Ziklag was no better than an excursion into Egypt.
As I reflect on David's choice, when confronted by the difficulties brought by King Saul's constant vigilantism against his enemy, I thought of one of my favorite Psalms. It is Psalm 91 which begins with these comforting words, "(She) who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty, whose power no foe can withstand." (Amplified Bible) This passage reminded me of a quote by author George Macdonald. "Afflictions are but the shadow of God's wings."
Too often when trouble erupts like a volcano in my own life, I want to head for the hills or find safety anywhere I can, even in the land of the enemy if need be. But too soon I find, as David did, that it is only under the protective wings of my Father where I will find the safety which will keep me from plunging into the valley of discouragement.
The English philanthropist, William Wilberforce left this advice for you and me when we are challenged by discouraging circumstances: "The Christian sets about (her) task with vigour and diligence. (She) is prepared to meet difficulties and is not discouraged when they occur." Under our Father's wings - this is how we handle the discouraging challenges we face each day.
"A smooth sea never made a skillful mariner, neither do uninterrupted prosperity and success qualify for usefulnessness and happiness. The storms of adversity, like those of the ocean, rouse the faculties, and excite the invention, prudence, skill and fortitude of the voyager."
"Almighty God, who in Thy wisdom hast so ordered our earthly life that we need must walk by faith and not by sight; grant us such faith in Thee that, amidst all things that pass our understanding, we may believe in Thy Fatherly care, and ever be strengthened by the assurance that underneath are the everlasting arms; through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P. S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com. Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.