Destruction and Despair at Ziklag - Part I
“And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag, on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag and burned it with fire; And had taken the women captives.” — I Samuel 30:1-2
The year is roughly 1010 BC. David is about twenty-nine years old. The place is southern Israel. David is running from King Saul. He lives in Ziklag.
The future king of Israel, David, with his mighty men and their families had been fugitive from King Saul for seven years. King Saul had expended every effort to capture David and had failed over and over. In desperation, and for protection from King Saul, David develops a friendship with King Achish of Gath, a Philistine. He requested from the Philistine king that he designate for them a village in some area belonging to the Philistines. David was told that they could live in a place called Ziklag, an unimportant town not far from Gath but hundreds of miles south of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. After moving to Ziklag, I Samuel 27 tells the story of David, plundering other towns and villages and living outside of the will of God for sixteen months.
David learns that King Achish of Gath and many other Philistines were preparing for battle against King Saul and Israel in northern Israel, near the Valley of Jezreel and Mount Gilboa. David and his men show up and volunteer to join up with the Philistines to war against King Saul. King Achish and other Philistine leaders consider the request and say no.
Immediately, David and His troops begin the long journey south to Ziklag. After a most tiresome journey of three days, they look up and see smoke rising from the area of their village. In much fear and great consternation, they hurry to their little city. They are shocked. The village of Ziklag had been destroyed—houses, tents, and stables burnt down, women and children taken captive, livestock stolen. David and his six hundred mighty men lost everything. The Amalekites had burned their village and kidnapped their wives and children and stolen everything of value.
Wow! Devastating and destructive things happen in life: a life-threatening illness, a terrible car wreck, huge medical bills, an unexpected death in the family, or a terrible divorce. Oftentimes such things bring great heartache and real financial stress. I call this “experiencing Ziklag.”
What should you do when you experience the Ziklags of life? I am not writing about the occasion of normal trials and tribulations. I am referring to that time in life when there is utter devastation in your world.
I Samuel 30 tells the story that David and His mighty men, “lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.” Grieving is understandable and proper when going through great hurt. The normal response is to grieve, weep, and express the emotional pain.
Ecclesiastes 3:4, says there is “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn.” However, David’s colleagues did not just weep and hurt loudly. I Samuel 30:6 tells us, “the people spoke of stoning him.” Wow! After a time of great weeping, some members of David’s mighty men are now prepared to turn on him and kill him. Momentarily, they forgot who their enemy was.
Friend, know your enemy. Our enemy today is Satan, the Devil, not an ex-wife or an ex-husband. John 10:10 declares that the thief has come to “steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” And he goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8).
This was a critical time for David to hear from God. In this great crisis, young David, about twenty-nine years old, had to make some difficult decisions, and make them quickly. His entire village had been burned; his wives and children kidnapped; his livestock stolen; and some of his men spoke of stoning him.
First, David knew the importance of prayer and talking to God (I Samuel 30:6). He greatly needed to hear from God. The story reads: “And David was greatly distressed … but David encouraged himself in the LORD His God” (I Samuel 30:6). The Hebrew word here for encouraged means “to strengthen, to repair, to bind up, to mend, to make strong.”
Young David, with mutiny on his hands, knew that this was no time for a congregational vote, but it was a time to hear from God. David separated himself from his men and began to talk to God, his heavenly Father. He made an altar. He had a prayer meeting. With tears rolling down his face, I am sure He prayed, “God, why did you allow this to happen?” I am sure he asked, “Oh God, what shall we do now?” David knew that it was time to do business with God. Scholars believe that there was some sin in David’s heart. He had lived outside the will of God for sixteen months (I Samuel 27:7). But David got into the presence of God and heard from God.
Dear reader, in times of great stress, great devastation, and great pain, clear your schedule, build an altar, and pray it through. If you will listen, God will speak. Before every major decision, spend quality time in sincere, humble, gut-wrenching prayer. Before you talk to others, talk to God and hear His voice. If there is unconfessed sin in your life, deal with it. Repent of it. Give it to God. God, your heavenly Father, loves you and is ready to help you in times of destruction and despair.
This article will continue in the September issue of The Evangelist.