King David’s psalms reveal that he faced some very lonely times. However, few experiences compared to his utter despair over the ashes of his city, Ziklag. The story of how he reached such anguished depths actually began much earlier—at a time when his faith failed.
After years of fleeing from King Saul’s death threats, David was discouraged and weary. He’d believed God’s promise to make him king, but now his certainty began to waver. So he did what many of us do—he resorted to human reasoning. Under the circumstances, it appeared his best option was to seek refuge among the Philistines, who were enemies of Israel (1 Samuel 27:1). Blinded by his seemingly hopeless situation, David stepped out of God’s will in order to get beyond Saul’s reach. His lapse may have been just temporary, but it nonetheless proved significant, in that he stopped believing God could guide him safely through “the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4).
Several months later, the future king returned to Ziklag to find that the city had been ruined. Even worse, his family and his people had been taken. David’s band of warriors prepared to take out their frustration and anger on him. From the bottom of this pit of despair, a humbled man looked to God and found his strength and his faith renewed (1 Samuel 30:6).
At our lowest points, we can be tempted to stop trusting in the Lord and instead take matters into our own hands. But when we do, it’s easy to wind up in a mess. The good news is that even in a mess, if we look to the Lord, we will see the way out of our pit and back into His will.
Bible in One Year: 2 Kings 18-20