When King David Got His Butt Kicked… And What He Did About It

Written by Wes Walker on August 18, 2019

We love to rally around King David’s victories for inspiration, but what about when the bottom fell out for him?

For all that life had thown at him by that point, King David had a good thing going in Ziklag… until things went south on him. But how he handled it made all the difference.

Despite doing things the RIGHT way, David did not have an easy path to fulfilling his eventual destiny as King of Israel.

When still a teenage shepherd, he had to face down predators to protect the sheep in his care, in his own words, the lion and the bear. After taking down Goliath, and proving his value under King Saul, the king’s jealous anger forced him to flee for his life and live in hiding.

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He eventually got the message and lived in exile in a neighboring land, feigning loyalty to them while striking out at Israel’s enemies, destroying their towns utterly, and sacking their goods.

When the time came for the major battle in which king Saul and his sons would be slain, David was invited by the foreign king to fight against Saul, but their other commanders feared having a group of armed Israelites in their midst who could turn on them, so David and his men were sent away.

When they got back home to Ziklag, they found it had been burned with fire, and all their wives and goods had been carried away by Amalekites.

When he and his 600 armed men got back, they held David responsible and were ready to kill him over his failure of leadership… they were ‘ready to stone him’. (I Sam 30:6) What did he do? He ‘strengthened himself in the Lord’ and sought divine council. God gave the green light on giving chase to rescue them, and off they went.

After a days-long chase and a mighty battle, they recovered everyone that had been lost.

By letting this happen to him, God had given David an ironclad alibi proving he had nothing to do with the death of King Saul — he was busy catching and killing the men who had carried off their families. And God did something else for him that was more of a blessing that it would have seemed at first, too.

Human nature would have fought against leaving the safe and familiar home this group of outlaw fugitives had all known for a year and a half behind, even WITH the news that King Saul’s death had left the throne vacant and the knowledge that David was the rightful (God-anointed) heir.

But Ziklag had been burned with fire. There was no ‘home’ in Ziklag to return to. Why bother rebuilding God’s TEMPORARY layover point for their lives when they were now free to go home and fulfill the Lord’s call?

The burning of Ziklag marked a transition point in David’s life, leaving behind David the fugitive, and taking first steps on becoming David the King of Israel.

There’s a lesson here for the rest of us, if we’re willing to hear it.

Is there any rut YOU have been stuck in, some aspect of life that YOU have been desperately hanging on to because it’s comfortable or safe, or even just because you’re a little anxious about stepping forward into an uncertain tomorrow?

Take stock of your own life. Is YOUR Ziklag burning? And if so, are you trying to rebuild it or are you packing your bags to follow The Call to the NEXT adventure He has waiting for you?

For those ‘Bereans’ among us who want to read it for yourselves, the accounts described here are I Sam 27 (when he arrives in Ziklag) to I Sam 30 (where he finds it burned).

If you found this message encouraging, check out Warriors and Wildmen (here’s a related message on getting out of a rut): Get Yo’ Butt Out Of Yo’ Rut

And if you like king David, check out this epic art piece featuring King David by our own Doug Giles: “King David Psalm 3

Dear Christian: King David Was A Badass – Be Like King David

And if you liked David’s obviously God-ordained leadership, as deeply flawed as it was, you might — I said, you just MIGHT — appreciate what THIS timely tome has to say, too:

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