Responding to Adversity—
Base Burnt, Flocks and Families in Captivity
We discuss a biblical event to illustrate that God could use adversity to guide a person to greater purpose. The adversity of follower families taken captive from his base led David to an opportunity to enunciate principles of basic civil rights and responsibilities. To respond to the adversity, he sought and received direction from God, pursued and caught up with the raiders, defeated them in a battle, and recovered everything and people taken from his base. Also, as he worked toward the rescue, he evaluated and disposed of issues as they arose; such as letting two hundred of his men that were exhausted return to base while four hundred continued in the pursuit. By so doing, he set the stage for resolving a dispute on sharing battle proceeds, which led to his ruling on civil rights and responsibilities.
An adversity could present opportunities for greater accomplishment. We discuss an example in David’s rescue of follower families captured from his base by a raiding party. The rescue led him to define basis for civil rights and responsibilities while settling a dispute on sharing battle proceeds among his people.
David and his men had left their base in Philistine territory to present themselves to fight alongside their Philistine host. However, the Philistines refused their offer and asked them to return to their base. On their return, they found their base raided, burnt, and plundered and their families taken captive by the raiders. David sought and received God’s direction, pursued and caught up with the raiders, defeated them in a fierce battle, recovered all that was taken from his base including family members, and took additional plunder. Subsequently, the plunder opened an opportunity for David. To settle a dispute among his people on sharing the plunder, he made a ruling that became a lasting foundation for the interpretation of basic civil rights and responsibilities.
The study provides opportunity for increased understanding that God may use an adversity to guide a person toward greater purpose. Therefore, seek his direction in every adversity. He establishes a way to communicate with every person and will respond to guide you if you seek his direction. Recognizing potential opportunities in an adversity will motivate a person to respond positively by seeking direction from God to defeat the adversity and any temptation that it might represent.
Well into his reign as king of Israel, Solomon worshiped God with great reverence. He wrote three thousand proverbs and a thousand and five songs for worship. He built a magnificent temple and dedicated it with worship and a classic prayer that could serve as devotional reading in most circumstances [1 Kings 8:22–54]. But by the end of his reign he had turned away from God, led astray by worshiping with several of his seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines.
Solomon respected and admired his father David and was humble toward the task of being king of Israel. Therefore, when he was presented an opportunity to ask anything from God, all he wanted was a wise and discerning heart to recognize right from wrong and govern effectively. God granted his request and, in addition, gave him extraordinary wealth and honor, so that “in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings” [1 Kings 3:13]. His determination to work close to God in order to govern Israel effectively was motivated by his respect and admiration for his father.
Most people likely will not seek to overturn a will of God that is identified specifically and clear to the human eye. But he often works differently, identifying his will to us through basic principles of human interaction that are discussed in various ways in the bible. For example, if you want something so much that you are willing to disregard parental or other established authority or procedure in order to satisfy your desire, you need to stop and think again because you could be seeking to overturn the will of God. He defined our relationship with parental authority through the 5th commandment [Exodus 20:12] and other established authority through Paul’s letter to the Romans [Romans 13:1–7]. Established procedures, at times referred to as due process, define how we should interact with the authority, such that circumventing an established procedure invariably implies disrespecting the authority.
A promise creates expectation in someone that goods or service will be available to provide for a need. The beneficiary relies on and can enter into commitments based on the expectation. A promise to a person conveys the same level of commitment as a promise to God. Therefore, God guards every promise and may step in to redress failure of a promise if he so desires. Similarly, a contribution is a delivery of goods or service with an implied promise to guard the goods/service to an appropriate hand-off point. Throwing in and abandoning the contribution prior to the hand-off point is similar to the Samaritan in the parable of the Good Samaritan abandoning the wounded man at the treatment center without further commitment. As we recall, the Samaritan made a commitment to return.
Every person has positive and negative qualities. A person’s positives make him/her more attractive as a potential ally whereas negatives make a person less attractive. Increase and strengthen your positives to make yourself more acceptable, but decrease and weaken your negatives to reduce the chance that people may have to “hold their nose” in order to ally with you. Also, to assess another person for an alliance, such as employment, partnership, marriage, and the like, evaluate both the positives and negatives. A person does not have to be perfect in order to be effective. This bible study provides an example of a person that was effective over a lengthy period despite apparent imperfections.
Ambivalence describes a situation in which the outcome of an event has both positive and negative implications for a person. You are happy with the positive but sad with the negative. If another person has labored or sacrificed for the event in order to provide the positive outcome, then it is important your sadness does not convey a message of regret or blame to the person. This bible study focuses on an example of ambivalence when David’s army put down a rebellion led by his son Absalom but the son was killed in the battle.