July 17: Emotion versus Logic
1 Samuel 30:1–31:13; 1 Peter 2:18–25; Psalm 131:1–132:18
Reacting is easy. What’s difficult is overcoming emotions in a time of adversity. Although emotions are not bad, they can lead us astray. At the same time, when we stray too far in the other direction and rely entirely on reason, we risk using logic without empathy. The answer to this conundrum is not to pit emotions against reason, but instead to pray.
Throughout his life King David struggles to balance emotion and logic. Sometimes he is an emotional wreck; other times he is so calculated that he seems almost brutal. Yet in many moments in his life—especially in his early years—he seeks Yahweh when it would be more convenient not to.
In 1 Samuel 30:1–6, David returns to the town of Ziklag to find that two of his wives and many of his warriors’ wives have been captured, and the city has been burned down. The text describes the emotional atmosphere of the discovery: “David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until there was not enough strength in them to weep.” The text also states that “it was very pressed for David”—meaning that David’s men are considering killing him because they view the situation as his fault (1 Sam 30:4, 6). Then we’re told, “But David strengthened himself in Yahweh his God” (1 Sam 30:6). This decision changes everything.
By seeking Yahweh, David learns that he will be able to overtake the raiders of Ziklag and recover the captives (1 Sam 30:7–10). What happens next is amazing: David and his men show kindness to a stranger, who returns the kindness by showing them where the raiders are camped. David and his men then overcome the raiders and recover the captives (1 Sam 30:11–20). This is one of those “God works in mysterious ways” moments. But could God have worked in mysterious ways if David had allowed either hot emotion or cold logic to rule him? Probably not. His prayer made all the difference.
We overcome the problems we face because God works in us, through His Spirit, when we seek Him in prayer. This is also how we can overcome our weaknesses and become more like Him.
What emotions do you need to overcome through prayer? What tensions can be resolved through God’s work?
JOHN D. BARRY
- But when David and his men were come to Ziklag the third day, the Amalekites had invaded upon the South, even unto Ziklag, and had smitten Ziklag, and burnt it with fire. And had takent he women that were therein, prisoners, both small and great, and slew not a man, but carried them sawy, and went their ways. So David and his men came to the city, and behold, it was burnt with fire, and their wives and their sons, and their daughters were taken prisoners. Then David and the people that were with him, lift up their voices and wept, until they could weep no more. David’s two wives were taken prisoners also, Ahinoam the Jezreelite, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite. And David was in great sorrow: for the people intended to stone him, because the hearts of all the people were vexed every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David comforted himself in the Lord his God. And David said to Abiathar the Priest Ahimelech’s son, I pray thee, bring me the Ephod. And Abiathar brought the Ephod to David. Then David asked counsel of the Lord, saying, Shall I follow after this company? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Follow: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and recover all. So David and the six hundred men that were with him, went, and came to the river Besor, where a part of them abode: But David and four hundred men followed (for two hundred abode behind, being too weary to go over the river Besor.) And they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David, and gave him bread, and he did eat, and they gave him water to drink. Also they gave him a few figs, and two clusters of raisins: and when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him: for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water in three days, and three nights. And David said unto him, To whom belongest thou? and whence art thou? And he said, I am a young man of Egypt, and servant to an Amalekite: and my master left me three days ago because I fell sick. We roved upon the South of Chereth, and upon the coast belonging to Judah, and upon the South of Caleb, and we burnt Ziklag with fire. And David said unto him, Canst thou bring me to this company? And he said, Swear unto me by God that thou will neither kill me, nor deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will bring thee to this company. And when he had brought him thither, behold, they lay scattered abroad upon allthe earth, eating and drinking, and dancing, because of all the great prey that they had taken out of the land of the Philistines, and out of the land of Judah. And David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next morrow, so that there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which rode upon camels, and fled. And David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken: also David rescued his two wives. And they lacked nothing, small or great, son or daughter, or of the spoil of all that they had taken away: David recovered them all. David also took the sheep, and the oxen, and they drove them before his cattle, and said, This is David’s prey. And David came to the two hundred men that were too weary for to follow David: whom they came to meet David, and to meet the people that were with him: so when David came near to the people, he saluted them. Then answered all the evil and wicked of the men that went with David, and said, Because they went not with us, therefore will we give them none of the prey that we have recovered, save to every man his wife and his children: therefore let them carry them away and depart. Then said David, Ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that which the Lord hath given us, who hath preserved us, and delivered the company that came against us, into our hands. For who will obey you in this matter? but as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be, that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike. So from that day forward he made it a statute and a law in Israel, until this day. When David therefore came to Ziklag, he sent of the prey unto the Elders of Judah and to his friends, saying, See there is a blessing for you of the spoil of the enemies of the Lord. He sent to them of Bethel, and to them of South Ramoth, and to them of Jattir, And to them of Aroer, and to them of Siphmoth, and to them of Eshtemoa, And to them of Rachal, and to them of the cities of the Jerahmeelites, adn to them of the cities of the Kenites. And to them of Hormah, and to them of Chorashan, and to them of Athach, And to them of Hebron, and to all the places where David and his men had haunted. Now the Philistines fought against Israel, and the men of Israel fled away from the Philistines, and they fell down wounded in mount Gilboa. And the Philistines pressed sore upon Saul and his sons, and slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Malchishua Saul’s sons. And when the battle went sore against Saul, the archers and bowmen hit him, and he was sore wounded of the archers. Then said Saul unto his armor bearer, Draw out thy sword, and thrust me through therewith, lest the uncircumcised come and thrust me through and mock me: but his armor bearer would not, for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a swrod and fell upon it. And when his armor bearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon is sword, and died with him. So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor bearer, and all his men that same day together. And when the men of Israel that were on the other side of the valley, and they of the other side Jordan saw that the men of Israel were put to flight, and that Saul and his sos were dead, then they left the cities, and ran away: and the Philistines came and dwelt in them. And on the morrow when the Philistines were come to spoil them that were slain, they found Saul and his three sons lying in mount Gilboa, And they cut off hsi head, and stripped him out of his armor, and sent into the land of the Philistines on every side, that they should publish it in the temple of their idols, and among the people. And they laid up his armor in the house of Ashtoreth, but they hanged up his body on the wall of Beth Shan. When the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, Then they arose (as many as were strong men) and went all night, and took the body of Saul, and the bodies of his sons, from the wall of Beth Shan, and caem to Jabesh, and burnt them there, And took their bones and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days. 1 Samuel 30:1–31:13
- Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and courteous, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongly. For what praise is it, if when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye take it patiently? but and if when ye do well, ye suffer wrong and take it patiently, this is acceptable to God. For hereunto ye are called: for Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that ye should follow his steps, Who did no sin, neither was there guild found in his mouth. Who when he was reviled, reviled not again: when he suffered, he threatened not, but committed it to him that judgeth righteously. Who his own self bare our sins in his body on the tree, that we being dead to sin, should live in righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray: but are now returned into the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. 1 Peter 2:18–25
- Lord, mine heart is not haughty, neither are mine eyes lofty, neither have I walked in great matters and hid from me. Surely I have behaved myself, like one weaned from his mother, and kept silence: I am in myself as one that is weaned. Let Israel wait on the Lord from henceforth and forever. Lord, remember David with all his affliction, Who sware unto the Lord, and vowed into the mighty God, of Jacob, saying, I will not enter into the Tabernacle of mine house, nor come upon my pallet or bed, Nor suffer mine eyes to sleep, nor mine eyelids to slumber, Until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob. Lo, we heard of it in Ephrathah, and found it in the fields of the forest. We will enter into his Tabernacles, and worship before his footstool. Arise, O Lord, to come into thy rest, thou, and the Ark of thy strength. Let thy Priests be clothed with righteousness, and let thy Saints rejoice. For thy servant David’s sake refuse not the face of thine Anointed. The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David, and he will not shrink from it, saying, Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne. If thy sons keep my Covenant, and my testimonies, that I shall teach them, their sons also shall sit upon thy throne forever. For the Lord hath chosen Zion, and loved to dwell in it, saying, This is my rest forever: here will I dwell, for I have a delight therein. I will surely bless her vittles, and will satisfy her poor with bread, And will clothe her Preists with salvation, and her Saints shall shout for joy. There will I make the horn of David to bud: for I have ordained a light for mine Anointed. His enemies will I clothe with shame, but on him his crown shall flourish. Psalm 131:1–132:18