In 1 Samuel 27, David is on the run from Saul, and in a lapse of faith, he flees for the second time (1 Samuel 21:10) to Achish, king of Gath. This time, David finds grace in the king’s eyes (v. 5), and Achish gives him Ziklag (v. 6), which becomes a base or headquarters for David and his band (1 Samuel 22:2).
In 1 Samuel 29, David starts out to battle with the Philistines to fight against Israel (what!?), but is providentially saved from doing so, owing to the disapproval of the lords of Philistines.
In 1 Samuel 30, David and his men return to Ziklag to find that in the three days since they left, the Amalekites had invaded the city, burnt it with fire, and carried away their wives, their sons, and their daughters. They wept until they had no more power to weep (v. 4) and even spake of stoning David (v. 6).
We pick up the account with this great statement at the end of verse 6.
1 Samuel 30:6 …But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.
That’s an important lesson for another time, but consider what we find as we continue on in the passage.
1 Samuel 30:7-9 And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech's son, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David. And David enquired at the Lord, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all. So David went…
While reading through the Old Testament, I’ve often thought – maybe you have, too – there are times when it sure would be nice if the Lord forgot what dispensation we are in.
In the case at hand, before David decided to go after the Amalekites and attempt to recover their families and their stuff, he was able to get confirmation from the Lord that the venture would be successful and that pursuing them was the right decision.
I mean, wouldn’t it be nice if there were a New Testament ephod we could bring out every now and then? Can you not think of all kinds of situations where it would be extremely helpful to know the outcome ahead of time? Relationships, business ventures, ministry endeavors, etc. There are so many times it’d just really be nice to know the end from the beginning.
Unfortunately, we don’t have Abiathar and his ephod, and we can’t enquire as David did and receive the same kind of response. But think about what we do have. The word of God. The promises of God. The certainty that every time we do what’s right, according to the word of God, the Lord will be pleased, and He will bless us for it.
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Colossians 3:24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
1 Timothy 5:25 Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.
Psalm 19:11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.
Galatians 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
We cannot be certain of the outcome of many of the decisions we are forced to make as we travel through life, but of this we can always be sure:
- We serve a God who knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10).
- I’ve read the back of His book, and it ends with the Lamb seated on His throne in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:1).
- He sees and promises to reward, in the end, every act of service and obedience (Proverbs 24:12; Ecclesiastes 12:14; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Jeremiah 17:10; 2 Chronicles 15:7).
There are many things we can do in obedience to the Lord with no idea what the outcome will be – pray, witness, preach, try to patch up a relationship, go to the mission field, etc. Will it be received? Will I be successful? Will people get saved? Will it all work out the way we planned it? There’s no ephod we can use to help us get the answer to those questions.
But there is an outcome we can be certain of – every time I act in obedience to the Lord, it pleases Him. And even if that’s all it does, that’s enough to make it worth it.
We can’t enquire like David did in 1 Samuel 30:7-9, but we can be encourage ourselves like David in 1 Samuel 30:6, while we mediate on this truth and this great and precious promise.
1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.