Our message series is called “Follow God’s Heart.” We are studying the life of David, whom the Bible calls a man after God’s heart. We want to learn to follow God’s heart also. To follow God’s heart is to follow His plan and purpose for our lives.
Following God’s heart does not mean that life will be easy.God allows adversity and trials of all kinds to come into our lives. Today, our message is entitled “Patience in Adversity.” How should you respond to adversity? Often, like the children of Israel, we are tempted to grumble and complain. We may get down or discouraged. But those reactions are not how you should respond to adversity.
James 1:2-3 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
The trials that come into our lives are not random events. In fact, the Bible teaches us that God only allows trials to come into our lives that will help us grow spiritually. These verse in James 1 show us that trials are a way that God tests our faith.
What happens when you face a trial that is a test? You can either pass or fail the test. God wants you to pass the test by trusting in God. The end result when you pass the testing of your faith is that you grow in steadfastness or patience. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit that comes as we rely on God’s help in the midst of a trial.
So, now that we better understand the purpose of adversity or trials, how should you respond? James tells us that we should count it all joy. The NLT translation says that you should consider it [the trial] an opportunity for great joy. We rejoice because God is going to use that trial to strengthen us and draw us closer to Him.
Sometimes, trials are not just a one and done deal. Sometimes trials are ongoing circumstances. We may respond with joy at the beginning, but the trial begins to weigh us down.
Galatians 6:9 (ESV) And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
The Bible instructs us to not grow weary in patiently trusting God in the midst of adversity. We mustn’t give up on God bringing us through. For, in God’s timing, we will reap a harvest of blessing. Patience in adversity leads to blessing in your life.
Today, we pick up the story of David from last Sunday. David had been anointed to be the next king by the prophet Samuel. However, King Saul was still on the throne and was drifting farther and farther from God. David was still working in the kings’ court as we begin today. Today, we’re going to learn some principles on responding to adversity from David’s life.
1 Samuel 18:1 (ESV) As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
After David defeated the giant Goliath, King Saul brough him into his court to serve. While there, David and Saul’s son, Jonathan became close friends. Contrary to King Saul’s drift away from God, Jonathan was a believer in the Lord. We’re going to see that Jonathan sided with David in the conflict with his father.
1 Samuel 19:2 (ESV) And Jonathan told David, “Saul my father seeks to kill you. Therefore be on your guard in the morning. Stay in a secret place and hide yourself.
King Saul was jealous of David’s successes. He didn’t want David to become king. The Bible records that an evil spirit tormented Saul and stirred up his anger against David. Saul tried on multiple occasions to kill David. Yet, Jonathan, David’s friend, warned him of Saul’s plans and helped him to escape. This did not make Saul happy with his son Jonathan.
1 Samuel 20:30-31 (ESV) Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman, do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Therefore send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.”
In the next verses, we read that Saul threw his spear at his own son, Jonathan, but missed again. God protected both David and his friend Jonathan from Saul’s demonic fury. Jonathan’s faithfulness to his friend David was amazing. First of all, he sided with David, God’s anointed, rather than his father, who was not following God. Secondly, Jonathan put his own life at risk in supporting David. Finally, as Saul noted, Jonathan would never be king when David took the throne. Yet, Jonathan put his own needs beneath the plan of God for David’s life. We see the great importance of having a believing friend in times of adversity.
Where can you find a believing friend? Two main places are in your physical family or your church family. It is often good to have a friend within your physical family and another friend in the church family. When we talk about a believing friend, we are not talking about just a casual friend. We are talking about a close friend.
How to you build a close friendship relationship? By spending time with the other person. You do not need a friend who is exactly like you. The best friendships are between two different kinds of people. You do not need a lot of friends contrary to popular opinion. The whole Facebook/Instagram thing has people talking about hundreds or thousands of friends. Those people are not all your friends. We’re talking about close friends brought into your life by God. If you are lacking in a few close friends, ask God to help you find the ones He has for you.
1 Samuel 21:7 (ESV) Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before the LORD. His name was Doeg the Edomite, the chief of Saul’s herdsmen.
After the last episode of Saul’s fury, Jonathan encouraged David to go on the run to keep safe. While a fugitive, David visited the priests at the city of Nob to receive food. He also was given the sword of Goliath that had been stored there. Unfortunately, a evil man, Doeg the Edomite was there on the day David visited. He reported back to Saul who instructed Doeg to kill all the priests and the men, women and children of the city. Hundreds perished. This incident further shows the demonic fury that was resident within Saul. One person escaped the massacre, whose name was Abiathar.
1 Samuel 22:22 (ESV) And David said to Abiathar, “I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have occasioned the death of all the persons of your father’s house.
David was grief-stricken that his visit to the priests had resulted in the slaughter of so many innocent people. And there was nothing that David could do to change any of these trials. We see in Psalm 52, David’s response to this tragedy.
Psalm 52:7-8 (ESV) “See the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and sought refuge in his own destruction!” But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.
The man or men who did not make God their refuge were Saul and Doeg. But David did make God his refuge and would continue to do so for the next fifteen years. During that entire time, David was fleeing from Saul’s attempts to capture and kill him. We see in the midst of an imaginable trial, how David sought God. The best thing to do in trials is to seek God.
Each of us faces trials in our own lives. Some trials are caused by the evil of other people. Other trials are simply the result of living in a fallen world. Oftentimes, we don’t know what to do or how to respond.
Believe that God has a plan, no matter how big the trial seems. Not only does God have a plan, but He promises to give you wisdom in that trial. As you ask God for wisdom on what to do, believe that He will give you that wisdom. He will continue to provide for you and your family as you seek Him.
Don’t give in to despair or discouragement. God is there with you, as He promised, every step of the way. Seek God in the midst of trials.
1 Samuel 24:4 (ESV) And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.
Saul continued to seek to capture and kill David, as David evaded Saul’s troops. Two years after David became a fugitive, Saul came into a cave to sleep in which David was hiding. David’s soldiers thought now was the ideal opportunity to kill Saul and take the throne. However, David knew that it was not in God’s plan for him to kill Saul and take revenge. So, he simply cut off the corner of Saul’s robe in the darkness of the cave. David’s men continued to press him to kill Saul, but …
1 Samuel 24:6 (ESV) He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the LORD’s anointed.”
You see, Saul had been anointed by Samuel to be king. Even though Saul was not following the Lord, it was not David’s place to kill him. It was not David’s place to take revenge. So, not only did David, not strike Saul, he forbade his troops from killing him as well. On another occasion, David and his troops discovered Saul and his army sleeping. They crept into the camp under the cover of darkness. One of the men Abishai asked David for permission to kill Saul.
1 Samuel 26:9 (ESV) But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the LORD’s anointed and be guiltless?”
David understood God’s authority to place kings in place and to remove them in His timing. In these two occasions, David chose to trust in God’s timing, rather than to take things into his own hands. David choose to not take revenge, but to leave judgement in the hands of God. David waited and went through many trials in the fifteen years that passed between his anointing and Saul’s death. Both Saul and Jonathan were killed in a battle with the Philistines. Finally, God had brought judgement on Saul and brough David into the kingship. We must trust in God’s timing.
Oftentimes, when we see adversity come into our lives, we feel that things are out of control. Nothing could be farther from the truth. God allows trials to come into our lives and will lead us through them in his timing, not ours. Sometimes, we have the choice to choose personal gain over honoring God. That was David’s choice. Would he seek to become king by killing Saul or would he honor God’s anointing?
The waiting for the resolution of trials in our lives is part of God’s plan. It builds our patience and helps our faith in God to grow stronger. When we are hurt by another person, we are tempted to take revenge. Yet, it is not our place to take revenge, but rather to leave judgement to God. We are to pray for and bless our enemies. Perhaps, God in his mercy will bring them into His family. God’s timing is perfect. Trust him and wait for him to move.
This morning think about a trial that you are going through or are concerned about in the future. Do you have a believing friend or two that give you counsel and to pray for you? All too often we make all our own decisions and miss out on the wisdom of others.
Are you seeking God in the trial you are thinking about today? The thing that you need most in a trial is wisdom, to know what to do and when to do it. As you are seeking wisdom, rejoice that God is using this trial to help you grow closer to Him.
Finally, trust in God’s timing. He knows what’s best. Don’t force the issue, but keep on praying and seeking God until the answer comes. May each of us continue to grow in patience in the midst of adversity.