When Circumstances Stink

I won't have a long message for you tonight. It's not even something you've never heard before. But I think its something some of you need to hear now. We are just going to look at a Bible story that may or may not be familiar to you and draw from it four simple lessons.

So turn with me to 1 Samuel 30. That's right, we'll go to Genesis next week, tonight we are going to 1 Samuel 30.

Before we read it, a little bit of context:

This is 1 Samuel 30, for the last 11 chapters of this, David has been running for his life. Saul is trying to kill him. For seven years he's been on the run. It's been a rough seven years. He's worked for several rival governments as a mercenary. He's lived in caves and in the woods. He's been betrayed multiple times. His first wife has married another woman. He's a fugitive.

Despite this, he manages to get together a band of followers who fight with him and work with him. They are in hiding together.

In the last chapter, David and his men are dismissed by the Philistines. So he and his men have just been fired.

So that's the backdrop of this: it's like a country music song. David has lost everything. He's lost his job. He's lost his wife. He's lost his place in society. He's been betrayed. He's on the run.

And when did all of this start for David? It started in 1 Samuel 16, when David was just minding his own business and the prophet Samuel called him out of the field and anointed him to one day be king of Israel. So add to all of this, David has the expectation that some day he's supposed to be king. It certainly didn't look like there was any way that was going to happen here.

Now, with all of that in mind, let's look at 1 Samuel 30. Remember, they are on the run, they are on their way back to their camp, they've just been fired.

"And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire; And had taken the women captives, that were therein:they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way"

"So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives. Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep. And David's two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite" (1-5)

So here is what they see when they get back to their camp. A rival army - the Amalekites, have come in when all of the men where gone and burned their camp and taken all of their families into slavery.

So imagine this - you are already having a rough time. You've got to go home to tell your wife that you just lost your job. And you get home and there is no home. Home has been burnt down, and someone has taken your wife and your kids captive.

That's what David and every one of his men experienced in 1 Samuel 30. Do you know what we call that? A really bad day.

But it gets worse. Look at verse 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"

So now, not only is David heartbroken, but the only thing he has left - his men - are wanting to kill him.

This is what you call a really, really bad day. This is some stinky circumstances.

Many of you have dealt with some terrible things, but most of you probably have never had to deal with something this bad. This is a total loss. This is pretty terrible.

And I think we can learn some lessons from this story for when we are going through stinky circumstances.

So let's pray and we'll continue to look at this chapter and I'll give you four things we can learn from this:

So four lessons from this chapter. The first lesson is this:

1. When our circumstances stink, God is still in control.

Could we agree that David was at a low point in his life and that he was dealing with some pretty bad circumstances here? Of course he was.

David wasn't on the throne. He didn't have a friend in the world here. His band of followers had turned against him. Everything looked as bleak as could be. But God was still on the throne.

It reminds me of a song we used to sing:

God is still on the throne, and He will remember his own.
His promise is true, He will not forget you.
God is still on the throne.

God was still in charge. Romans 8:28 hadn't been written yet, but God was still working all things together for good.

Can I tell you with certainty - no matter how bad your circumstances - God's still in charge.

  • No matter how bleak it may seem here - God is still in charge.
  • No matter who is in the white house - God is still in charge.
  • No matter how much you have in the bank account - God is still in charge.
  • No matter what the doctor says - God is still in charge.

He's still on the throne.

So, when circumstances stink - remember that God is still in control.

To understand the second lesson, let's keep reading in 1 Samuel 30. Look at verse 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:but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God"

So what did David do? Verse 6 tells us - He encouraged himself in the Lord.

So here is the second lesson:

2. When our circumstances stink, God is still good.

How could David encourage Himself in the Lord when everything around him was so bad? Because God is good. God is good all the time.

Let's look at some psalms for a minute. Let me read you some:

"Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever." (Psalm 106:1)

"O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever." (Psalm 107:1)

"O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever." (Psalm 118:1)

"O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever." (Psalm 136:1)

"Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes." (Psalm 119:68)

Church - God is good.

It's been awhile since we did this but let's do it together tonight. I'm going to say God is good - you say "all the time."

Ready "God is good" - "God is good" - "God is good" -

Psalm 145:7-9

"[Psa 145:7-9 KJV] 7 They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness. 8 The LORD [is] gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. 9 The LORD [is] good to all: and his tender mercies [are] over all his works."

God is good. Even when our circumstances aren't good - God is good.

And do you know what - when you can't get any encouragement by looking around - you can always get encouragement by looking up and believing that God is good.

When you get the worst news - God is still good and He's still in charge.

It's really easy to say that when everything is going well - but it's still true when everything is falling to pieces. God is good.

Let's look at the third lesson:

3. When our circumstances stink, God is still leading.

Back in 1 Samuel 30 - look what David did next, after David encouraged himself in the Lord, look what He does: (Verse 7)

"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."

In the Old Testament, one of the things that God led the people with was through the High Priest's ephod. It was just a vest, and inside of the vest their were these stones and the people would use them to get direction.

So David is at the bottom of the barrel and what does he do? He looks for direction from God. He goes to the ephod and God gives him instructions.

Maybe, and I don't know here, this is just opinion, but maybe God had to put David here before he saught God's guidance. I don't know - but God was still leading him.

I remember the first time we drover from Mattoon to Terre Haute. We were following our GPS, and we found ourselves on this gravel road that looked like it was in the middle of the worlds largest corn field. There was nothing anywhere and we thought "this must be wrong" but there was one thing that comforted us - that thing was still giving us directions and it turned out it was just taking us the shortest way.

Sailors have this saying "Always be tacking." That means no matter how bleak it looks, always be looking for direction and keeping track of where you are.

You may be in a terrible spot and life might stink. Keep following God. Keep tacking. Seek His direction and His leadership and He'll help you.

Look, I don't know this, but if you are in a place right now where you feel lost and nothing seems to be going your way - maybe just maybe God put you there so you would finally seek direction from Him.

Keep seeking God.

So David and his men go after the Amalekites and they get their wives and their families back. But more than that, they get an enormous ammount of spoil that the Amalekites have stolen.

David went from losing it all to getting more than he ever had in one chapter.

Do you know God can do that? Your circumstances might stink right now - God can turn them around tomorrow. He can do that.

So David takes this immense fortune that he's gotten in one day and do you know what he does with it - he sends a little bit of it to all the elders of Judah.

And in the next chapter, King Saul dies in battle.

And in the next chapter, David is made king over Judah.

And here's the thing - all of this happened within days of his total loss at Ziklag, and the events at Ziklag were what led to him being king in Judah.

So what's the point? Here's the last lesson and we are done:

4. When our circumstances stink, God might be about to turn the page.

God might be using the terrible circumstances that you are going through to do something amazing in your life. But you'll never know unless you follow Him, unless you look to Him for guidance, unless you choose to believe in God's goodness even when the circumstances make Him look bad.

I think when David looked back on Ziklag - he didn't see a terrible time - he saw an amazing time. He saw God come through at Ziklag. He saw that God had been working all along.

So church - just trust God. When the circumstances are great - trust God. When the circumstances are crummy trust God. He's still in control. He's still good. He's still leading and He's up to something.

Let's stand for invitation and prayer.