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a defeated player May 4 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Psalm 124; Psalm 108; Psalm 60; 2 Samuel 8:9-14; 1Chronicles 18:9-13; Psalm 44; Psalm 18; 2Samuel 22; Psalm 20; 2 Samuel 23:18-19; 1Chronicles 11:20-21; 2 Samuel 23:20-39; 1Chronicles 11:22-47 (Note: Psalm 18 and 2Samuel 22 are almost identical and were composed sometime after victories over King Saul and foreign nations. The text suggests that David was king at the time so it is placed here)

Handling Defeat

A victorious team has a continual streak of wins and then suffers a humiliating defeat. Why? A business wins many new important clients and is experiencing great success, when they suffer a lawsuit against them that is very costly. Why? A Christian family has a wonderful testimony then one of the children goes astray into a worldly lifestyle. Why? Sometimes God doesn't make sense. We have all experienced it; we try to live our lives before the Lord blamelessly and righteously, yet God, for some unknown reason, allows us to experience adversity and defeat. We are confused and we wonder, “What happened? Where is God?” King David felt like that. What do we do when we suffer defeat? What can we learn from David?

David had been recently restored into fellowship with God. God was giving him great victories, and he even gave him a gold crown to wear, won from a king he defeated. And then, unexplainably, his army is defeated. These military losses are recorded in Psalms 60, 44, and 20. We do not know anything else about these losses except what we read about them in these Psalms. In Psalm 44:17-22 David writes,

All this happened to us, though we had not forgotten you or been false to your covenant. Our hearts had not turned back; our feet had not strayed from your path. But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals and covered us over with deep darkness.
If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart? Yet for your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. (NIV)

What seemingly unfair losses have we experienced? What did God want us to learn by them? Can we continue to trust God even when we suffer defeats, or will we look elsewhere when we experience trouble? Trials test the mettle or our character.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom [about the trials he is facing], he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (James 1:2-5, NIV)

How did David emerge from his trials? Did he grow stronger or weaker? Psalm 60 tells us.

You have rejected us, O God, and burst forth upon us; you have been angry-- now restore us!
You have shown your people desperate times; you have given us wine that makes us stagger. But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow. Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered.
Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom? [the next military battle] Is it not you, O God, you who have rejected us and no longer go out with our armies? Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies. (Psalm 60:1,3-5,9-12, NIV)

David had the spirit of the old patriarch, Job. Even through terrible physical suffering Job proclaimed to his friends, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15a, NIV). David continued to place his confidence (his hope) in God. He realized that even if his armies did suffer defeats, God is the only one who could give him ultimate victory. He trusted in God’s sovereignty, wisdom, and goodness. When we suffer defeats we should do the same as David.

The lessons from David’s defeats are clear: when God allows us to experience defeat, he wants us to keep trusting him. Perhaps continual victories with no defeats will cause us to get over confident, much like a ball team who has a long string of wins. For a victorious team to experience defeat is a humbling experience. It causes that team to go back to the basics or fundamentals of the game and not take their victories for granted. We don't know for sure that this happened in David's life, but it is possible that God wanted to remind the Israelites that it was not strategy, superior strength, speed, or their heroics that would win the victory; it was God. They needed his help.

Perhaps overconfidence is not the problem in our lives, but for some it is. Have we taken God for granted that he will always give us the victories? When we experience trouble and loss in our lives, let's do what David did; let’s get back to the basics of our Christian experience; let’s go to God in humility and beg him for help. David cried out to God, “Rise up and help us; redeem us because of your unfailing love,” (Psalm 44:26, NIV). Let's learn to depend on him again for victories. David's next battle against the Edomites was a big victory. If we continue to trust in God's unfailing love, we can overcome any defeats or set backs and win again.

Lessons to live by:

  • Do you know the Almight God of heaven? He offers us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life. Through Him we win the victory (more...)
  • Trials test the mettle or our character.
  • When God allows us to experience defeat, he wants us to keep trusting him.
  • It is not strategy, superior strength, speed, or heroics that ensure victory; we need God’s help.
  • Even if we suffer defeats, God is the only one who can give us ultimate victory. Trust in his sovereignty, wisdom, and goodness like David did.

Today’s Bible memory verse: 2Samuel 22:30 “With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.” (NIV)

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