July 13: Unity in Adversity
1 Samuel 22:1–23:29; 1 Peter 1:13–19; Psalm 123:1–124:8
Distress can unite people. In difficult moments, in shared pain, we discover our true friends. When David fled from King Saul, his divided family was suddenly supportive of him, as was every man in the region who was distressed or indebted (1 Sam 22:1–2; compare 1 Sam 17:28–30). A shared sense of despair reveals the humanity in us all, helping us to get past our disputes and work together for one purpose.
For a disjointed band of brothers to be united beyond initial circumstance, they must have one purpose. That’s precisely what David gave his motley crew: They would fight the Philistines (Israel’s greatest enemies) together (1 Sam 23:1–5). David took a terrible situation and turned it into an opportunity to do what needed to be done. As rightful king, David was obligated to protect Israel. Yet it still took outstanding courage and raw leadership to act upon that obligation. When most people would have been paralyzed by fear, David was prepared for action—and that marked him as Israel’s new leader. David’s strength in adversity enabled him to unite people for a cause, and his God-centered focus made him the ideal leader of God’s people.
Peter’s remark in his first letter resonates with this idea: “When you have prepared your minds for action, by being self-controlled, put your hope completely in the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former desires you used to conform to in your ignorance” (1 Pet 1:13–14). The ignorance Peter addresses is sin. Although David was dealing with someone else’s sin, both he and Peter identify the same solution: Focus on God and His work.
When things get difficult, we should be aware of how we are being subtly drawn away from God’s work. If we can stay focused on Christ, we can stay focused on God’s purposes. In return, we will find the ability to lead any motley crew toward redemption.
Where is God calling you to lead? How can you shift your focus to be stronger in this task?
JOHN D. BARRY
- David therefore departed thence, and saved himself in the cave of Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him. And there gathered unto him all men that were in trouble, and all men that were in debt, and all those that were vexed in mind, and he was their prince, and there were with him about four hundred men. And David went thence to Mizpah in Moab, and said unto the King of Moab, I pray thee, let my father and my mother come and abide with you, till I know what God will do for me. And he brought them before the King of Moab, and the dwelt with him all the while that David was in the hold. And the Prophet Gad said unto David, Abide not in the hold, but depart and go into the land of Judah. Then David departed and came into the forest of Hereth. And Saul heard that David was discovered, and the men that were with him, and Saul remained in Gibeah under a tree in Ramah, having his spear in his hand, and all his servants stood about him. And Saul said unto his servants that stood about him, Hear now, the sons of Benjamin, will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards: will he make you all captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds: That all ye have conspired against me, and there is none that tell me that my son hath made a covenant wtih the son of Jesse? and there is none of you that is sorry for me, or showeth me, that my son hath stirred up my servant to lie in wait against me, as appeareth this day? Then answered Doeg the Edomite, (who was appointed over the servants of Saul) and said, I saw the son of Jesse, when he came to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, who asked counsel of the Lord for him, and gave him victuals, and he gave him also the sword of Goliath the Philistine. Then the King sent to call Ahimelech the Priest the son of Ahitub, and all his father’s house, to wit, the Priests that were in Nob: and they came all to the King. And Saul said, Hear now thou son of Ahitub. And he answered, Here I am, my lord. Then Saul said unto him, Why have ye conspired against me, thou and the son of Jesse, in that thou hast given him victual, and a sword, and hast asked counsel of God for him, that he should rise against me, and lie in wait as appeareth this day? And Ahimeech answered the King, and siad, Who is so faithful among all thy servants as David being also the king’s son-in-law, and goeth at thy commandment, and is honorable in thine house? Have I this day first begun to ask counsel of God for him? be it from me, let not the king impute anything unto his servant, nor to all the house of my father: for thy servant knew nothing of all this, less nor more. Then the King said, Thou shalt surely die, Ahimelech, thou, and all thy father’s house. And the King said unto the sergeants that stood about him, Turn, and slay the Priests of the Lord, because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled, and showed it not unto me, But the servants of the King would not move their hands to fall upon the Priests of the Lord. Then the King said to Doeg, Turn thou and fall uon the Priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and ran upon the Priests, and slew that same day fourscore and five persons, that did wear a linen Ephod. Also Nob the city of the Priests smote he with the edge of the sword, both man and woman, both child and suckling, both ox and ass, and sheep with the edge of the sword. But one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub (whose name was Abiathar) escaped and fled after David. And Abiathar showed David that Saul had slaid the Lord’s Priests. And David said unto Abiathar, I knew it the same day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would tell Saul. I am the cause of the death of all the persons of thy father’s house. Abide thou with me, and fear not: for he that seeketh my life, shall seek thy life also: for with me thou shalt be in safeguard. Then they told David, saying, Behold, the Philistines fight against Keilah, and spoil the barns. Therefore David asked counsel of the Lord, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the Lord answered David, Go and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah. And David’s men said unto him, See, we be afraid here in Judah, how much more if we come to Keilah against the host of the Philistines? Then David asked counsel of the Lord again. And the Lord answered him, and said, Arise, go down to Keilah: for I will deliver the Philistines into thine hand. So David and his men went to Keilah, and fought with the Philistines, and brought away their cattle, and smote them with a great slaughter: thus David saved inhabitants of Keilah. (And when Abiathar the son of Abimelech fled to David to Keilah, he brought an Ephod with him.) And it was told Saul that David was come to Keilah, and Saul said, God hath delivered him into mine hand: for he is shut in, seeing he is come into a city that hath gates and bars. Then Saul called all the people together to war for to go down to Keilah, and Saul said, God hath delivered him into mine hand: for he is shut in, seeing he is come into a city that hath gates and bars. Then Saul called all the people together to war for to go down to Keilah, and to besiege David and his men. And Daid having knowledge that Saul imagined mischief against him, said to Abiathar the Priest, Bring the Ephod. Then said David, O Lord God of Israel, thy servant hath heard, that Saul is about to come to Keilah to destroy the city for my sake. Will the lords of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? and will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard? O Lord God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant. And the Lord said, he will come down. Then said David, Will the lords of Keilah deliver me up, and the men that are with me, into the hand of Saul? And the Lord said, They will deliver thee up. Then David and his men, which were about six hundred, arose and departed out of Keilah, and went whither they could. And it was told Saul, that David was fled from Keilah, and he left off his journey. And David abode in the wilderness in the holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand. And David saw tha tSaul was come out for to seek his life: and David was in the wilderness of Ziph in the wood. And Jonathan Saul’s son arose and went to David into the wood, and comforted him in God, And said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee, and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee: and also Saul my father knoweth it. So they twain made a covenant before the Lord: and David did remain in the wood: but Jonathan went to his house. Then came up the Ziphites to Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself by us in holds, in the woods in the hill of Hachilah, which is on the right side of Jeshimon? Now therefore, O king, come down according to all that thine heart can desire, and our part shall be to deliver him into the King’s hands. Then Saul said, Be ye blessed of the Lord: for ye have had compassion on me. Go, I pray you, and prepare ye yet better: know and see his place where he haunteth, and who hath seen him there: for it is said to me, He is subtle, and crafty. See therefore and know all the secret places where he hideth himself, and come ye again to me with the certainty, and I will go with you: and if he be in the land, I will search him out throughout all the thousands of Judah. Then they arose and went to Ziph before Saul, but David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the plain on the right hand of Jeshimon. Saul also and his men went to seek him, and they told David: wherefore he came down unto a rock, and abode in the wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard that, he followed after David in the wilderness of Moan. And Saul and his men went on the one side of the mountai: and David and his men on the other side of the mountain: and David made haste to get from the presence of Saul: for Saul and his men compassed David and his men round about, to take them. But there came a messenger to Saul, saying, Haste thee, and come: for the Philistines have invaded the land. Wherefore Saul returned from pursuing David, and went against the Philistines. Therefore they called that place, Sela Hammahlekoth. 1 Samuel 22:1–23:29
- Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind: be sober, and trust perfectly on that grace that is brought unto you, in the revelation of Jesus Christ, As obedient children, nor fashioned yourselves unto the former lusts of your ignorance: But as he which hath called you, is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation, Because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy. And if ye call him Father, which without respect of person judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your dwelling here in fear. Knowing that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, received by the traditions of the fathers, But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb undefiled, and without spot, 1 Peter 1:13–19
- I lift up mine eyes to thee, that dwellest in the heavens. Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress: so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until he have mercy upon us. Have mercy unto us, O Lord, have mercy upon us: for we have suffered too much contempt. Our soul is filled too full of the mocking of the wealthy, and of the despitefulness of the proud. If the Lord had not been on our side, (may Israel now say) If the Lord had [not] been on our side, when men rose up against us, They had then swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us. Then the waters had drowned us, and the stream had gone over our soul: Praise be the Lord, wich hath not given us as a prey unto their teeth. Our soul is escaped, even as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are delivered. Our help is in the Name of the Lord, which hath made heaven and earth. Psalm 123:1–124:8