I had a new perspective today on setbacks that come in life. I was reading in the Bible in 1 Samuel about David’s struggles with King Saul. King Saul repeatedly attempted to murder David; David had several opportunities to kill Saul.
The difference between the two? David refused to hurt the Lord’s anointed.
The end result: David needed to stay on the run. At some point, David finally flees to the Philistines, the Israelite’s enemies. He stays because of the goodness of the Philistine king, Achish. David is a help to the king, so when the other princes complain about David’s desire to fight for them in a pending battle, Achish is frustrated yet has his hands tied.
As a result … David experiences a setback. He wants more than anything to aid the Philistines in their endeavors – for it was, after all, the Philistines who finally have given him peace. But the princes in their prejudice and mistrust of an Israelite, refuse David’s offer of help for their upcoming battle.
David pleads to Achish: “But what have I done? and what hast thou found in thy servant so long as I have been with thee unto this day, that I may not go fight against the enemies of my lord the king (1 Sam 29:8)?”
Achish’s sorrowful response: “David, I know that thou art good in my sight, as an angel of God: notwithstanding, the princes of the Philistines have said, He shall not go up with us to the battle” (vs 9).”
So much of the Biblical account records physical events, not “heart events.” David must leave. I wonder at his emotional response to being stymied in his fervent desires. But here’s the point, at least it was for me. When a setback occurs, I realized today that often the Lord’s hand is in it.
Unbeknownst to David, his two wives had been abducted back in Ziklag and the entire settlement burned to the ground. It was only after David returns home, that he discovers he was needed there! (See 1 Samuel 29 and 1 Samuel 30 to read the whole story.)
The “ah, ha” moment for me came quite strongly today as I pondered the meaning of this account. From the moment that David was forced to go home, to when he found a dying enemy soldier who led David and his men to the “bad guys,” the Lord’s hand was all over that! The timing was too important. David’s abducted wives needed him at home, as did the rest of the people.
In fact, we read in the next chapter (1 Samuel 30) in verse 18 that “David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives. And there was nothing lacking…neither sons nor daughters…nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered them all” (1 Sam 30:18-19).
Indeed, setbacks may very much be the Lord acting in mercy when we expect it least.