Recently I was confronted with a problem that there was literally nothing I could do to solve. Immediately I felt the visceral response within. I was faced with a very strong temptation to give in to an internal response that would have turned myself in on myself the entire day. Joy replaced with fear and anger; Self-preservation and pre-occupation rather than caring for others.
There is Another Way
“But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” 1 Samuel 30:6
In its context, this statement in 1 Samuel 30 is a neon exclamation point.
Let’s re-familiarize ourselves with David’s cascading crisis context:
He is a refugee (living amongst the Philistines, with whom he does not have a great history of personal relations – recall Goliath)….
…Because, he is a wanted and hunted man (by the mad and jealous King Saul)….
…And now his family has just been taken captive by Amalekite raiders. He has no idea if they are being sold on the human trafficking market let alone even alive….
…What’s more, the 600 social outcast fighting-men who have joined themselves to David in his on-the-run, refugee life, are now blaming David for this whole mess and want to kill him….
“But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”
What did David do?!?!
Though we do not have many hints in this text, the Psalms do provide us with many insights. to David’s habits amidst crisis.
David’s Psalms Provide Guidance
A quick perusal through the Psalms provide a treasure trove of David’s growing reliance in God amidst life realities. I commend Psalms 51-59 as some representatives of such prayers.
Let’s look at Psalm 3, though, for its clear, succinct flow. This Psalm is attributed to the time when David is in distress over Absolom’s coup attempt.
The Crisis: “Many foes” mock David’s “soul” saying “there is no salvation for him in God (Psalm 3:1-2).”
This is a classic lie of the enemy: You are on your own. God may save others, but you have maxed your account. There is no hope for you.
David Responds with a Declaration of Faith and an Act of Faith
Declaration of faith: He countered the lie by reminding himself that God is his shield and answers him when he cries out (3:3-4).
His act of faith was to….. take a nap! “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustains me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who set themselves against me….(3:5-6).”
Sleep is an act of trust for in a dangerous world sleep is a vulnerable state.
Long ago – whether in the open fields with his flock, confronting the giant Goliath, or hiding in a cave from King Saul – David had progressively learned to entrust his very existence to the God who is his life and salvation.
Sleep is not only a human necessity, it is also a daily act of faith. All one has to do is recall the last time you lay awake in the dark of mid-night with some life problem spinning laps in your mind to know the truth of this reality.
How do we follow in David’s wisdom of strengthening oneself in God? Let’s look at one example.
A Strengthening Practice of Soliloquy:
Soliloquy is a practice of speaking to oneself aloud. It is a wonderful spiritual practice.
Psalm 43 offers a classic example. Note how David is addressing his own soul:
“Why are you so downcast, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” (Ps 43:5)
Remind yourself daily, often even, of the imminent presence and personal love of your saving God. Speak it aloud to yourself. God’s salvation is not a mere generalized truth. God’s presence is personal to each of us by name and his saving is specific to each of our adversities. The late Jerry Bridges would say, “Preach the gospel to yourself everyday.”
Every season of disorientation is a profound opportunity for your relationship with the Living God to be deepened. Life crisis is always the given opportunity to turn your face toward God and declare your reliance upon him.
Then receive sleep through the night as an act of trust in your God who never sleeps nor slumbers but watches over your every life detail (Psalm 121).
Reflection time: Take some time to reflect on what circumstances you find yourself in that give place for the enemy’s mocking and lies. What declaration of faith and act of faith is the Spirit prompting within you? How is God growing in you responses of trust in him rather than a frenetic doubling-down or foggy zoning-out in the midst of such strain?
Who in your community can use a call to be encouraged in their faith today?