Consequences. We like the good ones. We think somehow we should be spared the bad/difficult/unpleasant ones . . .
Some of the toughest consequences for me have been consequences I experience as a result of someone else’s behavior. That is when my “fair-o-meter” goes crazy.
And God wrote Davids’ story, to be an example, to give me hope.
for whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. . .Romans 15:4 ESV
David has been in Ziklag, living among the Philistines (Israel’s arch-enemy) for over a year. He’s been going on raiding parties at night against Israel’s enemies, killing everyone so there is no one left to tattle to the Philistines who are allowing him to live among them. David has been a sort of double agent. Achish of Gath allowed David and his men (more than 600 or so) and their families to live at Ziklag. Achish was convinced that because Saul wanted David dead, and David and his men were exiles, that David was harmless, and even useful, to the Philistine army. So useful, that Achish allows David and his men to get ready to attack Israel in a big battle (don’t worry, David had every intention to use his strategic place at the rear of the Philistine force to actually attack the Philistines)
But then “consequences” start to come into play. The other Philistine commanders weren’t as “on board” as Achish, so David and his men are sent back to Ziklag. But what do they find when they get there?
Consequences. Remember why Saul’s kingdom was taken from him by God?
Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek. . .1Samuel 28:18 ESV
Just one of the reasons. So David and his men return to Ziklag, to find a burned-down settlement and their families gone. Taken captive. While David and his men were out “helping” the Philistines, they had left their homes defenseless, and the AMALEKITES kidnapped their families.
The Amalekites were strong because Saul disobeyed God and did not destroy them when he was commanded to do so. And now David and his men are paying the price.
Consequences. And now David is facing betrayal by his own men (there was stoning talk going on) because the kidnapping and burning happened while they were out on David’s campaign.
But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God 1 Samuel 30:6
He inquires of God publicly, and receives both instructions and assurance of victory. (I’m sure that helped squelch the stoning rumblings). They go after their families, and rescue every one of them, plus get the flocks and herds of the Amalekites to replace their burned property. (But 400 Amalekite men escaped on camels, and we will revisit them later . . .)
Consequences. Because David was fighting the Amalekites, he was not at the rear of the Philistine battle, to turn on them and fight for Israel. Israel was defeated. Saul and his sons were killed. God told Saul through Samuel that is exactly what would happen. Consequences.
David is unaware. He is in Ziklag, celebrating his victory.
I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies . . .Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever. Psalm 18:1-3, 50 ESV
Consequences can be good, too. David knows that God alone is to be praised for his victories, and God alone is to be trusted even in defeat or failure or affliction.
When circumstances are difficult, for example — when a short trip to a quiet Hobby Lobby to buy some sewing thread is enough exertion to cause a blasting, nauseating headache –like David, I MUST strengthen myself in my Lord, my God. He is in control. I am His bondslave. He can give me whatever assignment He chooses. I can trust Him.
But there is an important thing to remember about consequences . . . .
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus . . .Roman 8:1
He [God] does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. . .Psalm 103:10
Jesus is the one who paid the just consequence of EVERY sin on the cross. I am rescued from the ultimate consequence — separation from my God and everlasting punishment — because Jesus willingly became my redeemer.
Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God. He to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood. . . Robert Robinson, 1758, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”
Gracious, undeserved consequences. O, to grace, how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be . . .