Strengthen Yourself in the Lord
“Then Saul said to his servants, ‘Seek for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.’”
“David strengthened himself in the Lord.” (1 Samuel 28.7a and 30.6b)
The story of David is quite an exciting tale, and part of the reason for this is the interplay between the lives of David and Saul. When Saul was first chosen king, he was a timid man standing taller than every other Israelite around him. But as his life progressed, he had one fatal flaw: When things didn’t work according to his time and way, he would seek for deliverance from things other than Yahweh, his God.
Saul’s life is always compared to David’s in 1 Samuel, where we see David regularly seeking Yahweh’s guidance. Even when he was a young man, he sought Yahweh’s guidance and lived wisely. Although David was not perfect, this verse from 1 Samuel 30 displays his trust in Yahweh, the Lord. His men seem about to revolt against him because their families have been captured. David’s wives have also been captured; you can imagine the terror of a rebels enslaving your wives and children, but we see here that David responded by strengthening himself in the Lord. This is really quite a statement, and I think that our first response would have been to res
pond with anger, sorrow and hopelessness. Strengthening ourselves in the Lord would have been our last option. It would have been perhaps easier to do what Saul did in his straights: find someone or something more practical and physical to fix my problems right now.
In chapter 28, Saul realized that the Lord was no longer answering him. We might think it odd that the Lord has stopped giving guidance to Saul, God’s king, until we remember that the advice Saul did receive, he didn’t follow. Ultimately, Saul had rejected Yahweh before Yahweh rejected him as king. The rest of his life is a tragedy, which reveals to us, the readers, how humanity fails if it is governed by itself. When Saul realized that God wasn’t listening to him any longer, he pursued his own path that he thought would help him get victory over the Philistines - at whom he shuddered in seeing their armies. Although we may think going to a witch is something we would never do, the primary error of Saul is that he lived a life of impatience and distrust in the way Yahweh accomplished what He wanted to do. Saul had different opinions than Yahweh and ended up doing his own thing, which ultimately led Saul to sorcery: ironically one of the things he had stamped out as king of Israel. He embraced a sin which he had publicly despised and was found out in his sin. We ultimately need a better king, one who is more perfect even than David, but David still is an example of the future king. We see this in the fact that he strengthened himself in the Lord in the most difficult times of his life.
Consider how often we waver between living like Saul and living like David. The disciples even wavered as they learned from Jesus, who was Yahweh in human flesh. Our wavering shouldn’t depress us. Rather, because Jesus accomplished his work on earth, we can rejoice! After Jesus’ work on this earth, God sent the Spirit to all who would believe. Not only was the Spirit sent, but we were sealed with the Spirit. Now the Spirit of God will not depart from his people like he did from Saul. In other words, the Holy Spirit is always at work in the people of God so that we would all the more strengthen ourselves in the Lord instead of pursuing our own way. Without the work of the Spirit of God and the Son of God, we would live as godless of a life as Saul. Praise be to God who has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved son in whom we have redemption of sins.
--J. Andersen 6/30/16