February 28, 2012
By John Barnett
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We have all heard of people who have gone through complete emotional or mental breakdowns, but few of us have ever actually witnessed one as it happened.
The good news is that God recorded the “before, during, and after” of the emotional and physical breakdown David experienced.
This sad but instructive event is captured flawlessly and in amazing detail.
As we open to I Samuel 21:13 David hit the bottom, overwhelmed by life, sinking into fear, and trapped by his choices, he melts down.
This may be the single most humiliating and desperate moment of David’s life.
Follow along with me as we see what happens when even great servants of the Lord get overwhelmed by their trouble and trials.
So he changed his behavior before them, pretended madness in their hands, scratched on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva fall down on his beard.
Then Achish said to his servants, “Look, you see the man is insane.
Why have you brought him to me? Have I need of madmen, that you have brought this fellow to play the madman in my presence?
Shall this fellow come into my house?”
(1 Samuel 21:13-15).
When life unexpectedly overwhelms us and we feel we can’t go on and we feel all alone—what do we do?
David faced that as well as so many of God’s faithful servants through the years.
Just because we love and serve the Lord doesn’t mean we miss the storms and skids of life.
God's Word tells us that:
*David Bottomed Out In His Life*
Remember the context of these gravest hours in the life of David?
Look back a few verses to v. 10.
1 Samuel 21:10-13 /"Then David arose and fled that day from before Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath.
11 And the servants of Achish said to him, “Is this not David the king of the land?
Did they not sing of him to one another in dances, saying: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands’?” 12 Now David took these words to heart, and was very much afraid of Achish the king of Gath.
[that is the setting for Psalm 56] 13 So he changed his behavior before them, pretended madness in their hands, scratched on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva fall down on his beard.
[that is the setting for Psalm 34 and then later, Psalm 70]."/
David bottoms out emotionally and is unable to go on because of complete fear, loneliness, and danger.
So he puts on an act like he has lost his mind.
Not everything David did was right—but the inspired lessons are always right.
The key to this time in David’s life is found not in the short term events, but in the long term direction of his heart!
But now as we turn to Psalm 34, look at this incredible note from God.
This is the God of the second chance and new beginnings.
This is the God of ALL comfort.
David was all alone.
No army (they start joining him according to I Samuel 22 after Gath), no family, no friends, nothing.
*David was desperate.
David was afraid.
Psalm 56 that we looked at last time was written during this event.
Psalm 34 was written after this event, as David had a meltdown, and fled to the cave.
There all alone, David turned the cave into a cathedral as he worshiped the Lord.
Here is one of the most fascinating lessons in all of God's Word, as we read that:
*Psalm 34’s Setting is Fear*
A Psalm of David when he pretended madness before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he departed.
Remember what we are looking at, it is a Psalm.
A Psalm is a song of worship directed to God.
After dread fear, pretended madness and all, David fled physically to a cave, but more than that, he fled spiritually to God’s Throne.
David had found a place he could always reach for safety and security—in any situation.
The Lord was his refuge; the Lord is our refuge also.
Christ our refuge is the safest spot in the Universe.
He is the place we go when life gets tough.
David in the Old Testament has a twin in the New Testament.
God uses a word for these two that He does not use for anyone else in His word.
They are special servants.
Look with me at Paul’s take on events like David went through in Philippians 4:6.
The Apostle Paul had this to say about not giving into fear:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6).
The literal construction of that verse is a beautiful imperative, which says this:
Nothing will I be anxious about; I will worry about nothing; I will pray about everything.
That is the tremendous lesson David learned during these very hard times in his life.
Remember this about David: not everything he did was right—but the inspired lessons God gave us through his example are always right.
What really counted was not what happened in David’s short-term events, but in the long-term direction of his heart.
*The Pattern of Faith over Fear*
David turned, trusted, and triumphed—that is his life long pattern.
Whether it was the family conflicts and dangers that left him all alone, or this job loss—he always turned to God, trusts in His promises, and is led in triumph.
That kind of echoes a New Testament verse we all know doesn’t it?
Remember what Paul said during similar hard times in his life?
2 Corinthians 2:14 /"Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place."/
In each place of our lives that we face the testing fires of affliction: what fragrance do we offer to God?
• Are you a fragrance at the doctor’s office or the unemployment office for Christ or not for Christ?
• Can people tell you are turning to God or to despair?
• Can your friends see that you are trusting God, or panicking?
• Does God see you being led in triumph or sinking in pity?
Remember we can’t change most of our circumstances—but we can change our attitude as we go through them!
Even the Apostle Paul could identify with the intensity of David’s struggles as the unexpected twists of life threatened to overwhelm him:
/"For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life (2 Corinthians 1:8)."/
/"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body"/ (2 Corinthians 4:7-10).
Both David and Paul found a place they could always flee to for safety and security; the Lord was their refuge, and He is ours as well.
Christ is the safest spot in the universe.
To glorify God in trials, He is the place to go when life gets tough.
Let’s now turn our attention to the rest of Psalm 34, written after David escaped from Gath, and made it to the cave of Adullam.
Remember: the details of 1 Samuel 21:13-15 are the backdrop for this psalm.
David turned what could have been a cave of fear into what became a cathedral of praise and worship.
This song expresses how David had felt in the courts of the great warlord of the Philistines.
Even though David melted down out of fear before Achish, he recovers as soon as he turned to God who was watching.
God gave David the grace he needed in time of need and will do the same each time we call out to Him.
*Psalm 34: Turning Fear into Worship*
/"I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.
4 I sought the LORD, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed.
6 This poor man cried out, and the LORD heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them.
8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! 9 Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints!
There is no want to those who fear Him. 10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing.
11 Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 Who is the man who desires life, And loves many days, that he may see good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry.