Posted by: Vatroslav Župančić


“And it came to pass, when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire; 2 And had taken the women captives, that were there: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way. 3 So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burning with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives. 4 Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep. 5 And David’s two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite. 6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters.“ 1 Samuel 30:1-6

In this story of David in the Old Testament  we read of a dramatic event. He was a leader, a warrior and the future king of Israel and Judah. At that time he enjoyed great prestige among his people and followers.

But in just one day, in just a few moments it was all destroyed!

He came home with his men and they found no one there; everything was devastated and all their families had been led away by their enemy into captivity.

This is a situation that even faithful people can experience. We can have success in ministry and influence, enjoy good family relations, and have lots of friends,  but then suddenly comes a  destruction, a hopeless catastrophe as happened to  David and his followers.

‘‘Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.“ (vs. 4)

Imagine this situation: warriors, men in full armor, with breastplates, with swords crying  and weeping like little children,  completely powerless.

In Hebrew, the meaning of the word “weeping” is much more than simply “to shed tears of sadness”. The word בָּכָה (bakah) means “to cry aloud, to mourn violently and desperately with complaining, grieving deeply, and to feel severe pain“.

David and his men were emotionally slain, at the end of their powers, without hope, and deeply hurt.

Have you, dear fellow Christian, perhaps already experienced something like this in your life?

Did you really cried aloud and as the word here says “ violently and desperately“ – so much so that at the end you were completely exhausted? Something similar happens to people when something terrible and unexpected happens to  them, such as the loss of a child or the sudden breakdown of a loving relationship.

These kind of traumas with deep spiritual pain can lead to reactions that can potentially develop in two directions:

  1. In autoaggression: namely in a self-blame and even self-hatred. The  person asks him or herself in that position: what  have I done wrong that  this should happen to me? In some extreme cases people who can no longer bear such intense pain eventually take their own lives.
  2. In bitterness and a desire for revenge. In this state, one often directs their emotions against the supposedly guilty party. In this case, it was David who stood there as a scapegoat. The people thought that all this was happening because of his guilt as their leader, that he was responsible for everything bad that happened.

His team had left everything to follow and support him and now they felt betrayed. The same happened to Moses in the wilderness, when the entire Israelite community  brought stood up  against him.

David‘s closest followers were now ready to kill him, as we read:

“for the people spoke of stoning him“ (vs. 6)

How did David feel in such a difficult moment?

He learned the lesson that it is much easier  to lead when everything is going well  and how difficult the situation can be when things get out of control.

Such difficulties can happen in  church leadership.  A leader‘s skills can only become truly apparent in times of difficulties and conflicts.

Such events and developments can also be observed in today’s church and ministries.

According to a study of the Lutheran Churches in Middle Germany (Die Evangelische Kirche in Mitteldeutschland (EKM) made in 2016; “Almost every eighth pastor in a parish area with 700,000 members is affected by so-called burnout, and another third (33 percent) of the entire clergy belongs to a group with an increased risk to become burnout“. [1]

The researchers identified the main cause of this almost spiritual pandemic as  “the feeling of being psychologically, mentally and physically overloaded. For example, in parish areas with up to 20 preaching points, there is too little time left for for one’s own spiritual or family life, complained the clergy. Also, many pastors lack the necessary privacy after work“.[2]

I have often heard similar complaints in personal talks with some of my colleagues. Pastors on one hand have to fight against external pressures coming from the increasingly secularised society where traditional  Christian values are daily trampled on in public and in the media. But much greater challenges and stresses often come “from within”from the parishes and among the believers. Some place too high expectations on their pastor, others sometimes show their  dissatisfaction always criticising. Some pastors who try to follow biblical standards and whose decisions do not always correspond to the ideas of all  church members experience a lot of resistance in the form of indignant letters, complaints to supervisors and similar examples of passive aggression.

Even John Wesley wrote several times in his diary about his difficulties, and disapointments in his ministry. But fortunately, David, Wesley and Christians through the centuries, have help from above to deal otherwise with similar  difficult situations. In times of crises and afflictions, David acted in this way:

but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.“ (vs. 6)

He did not seek the solution to his problems in a therapeutic way by running to  a specialist or to seek advice from books like “The 7 steps to get out of stress”.

No! First, he sought God in a serious time of prayer because he believed and knew that God is greater than anything bad that was going on around him. He was sure that if he sought after God, he would get an answer and direction. For David, God was the primary source of all wisdom, every successful life strategy, and real victory. He knew that with God everything would come to a good end.

I agree with most theologians that this is the reason that in Scripture that David was called “a man after God’s own heart.”

We, who call ourselves Christians, have received even greater promises than David.

On the one hand we have Satan as our greatest enemy who wants to rob us of the things most precious to us: our families, relationships and  our peace. He  brings disturbances, sends depression and anxiety, wants to oppress us and ultimately separate us from God as the source of life. But on the other hand we, as children of God, have a promise that in the difficult situations of stress and pressure  we will not be left alone.

As the Apostle Paul writes in the New Testament book to Romans:

Likewise the Spirit also helpes us our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Rom 8, 26-28)

As a result of his trust and encouragement in the Lord, we read that David won a big victory and received even more in the end than he had before his distressing experience. So can we do today as David did? Let us not faint, or be discouraged as Methodists facing the same sad condition and state of separation as  tension grows in our church around the world. Let us not wait for administrative solutions or other things because our hearts will grow weary.

Let us strengthen ourselves in the LORD our God! Let us be courageous with the help of our God.


[2] Ibid

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