He sat in his tent, rocking back and forth. Over and over he said, “Bless the Lord, oh my soul. Bless the Lord, oh my soul. Did you hear me soul? I said bless the Lord.” On and on, like some kind of refrain, he continued until the fear that threatened to paralyze him dissipated. “Oh my God, I worship you. You are my strength. You are with me. I have nothing to fear.”
It had been just a few hours since he and his men had returned home, only to see everything gone and what was left, burnt to the ground. He was alone and afraid, but grateful for his tent. All the others had left theirs behind as they had gone out to fight, but he had carried his with him to and from the battle, knowing he might need his should he want to be alone to pray. His men were so angry at losing their possessions and family members that they had turned on him. Now there was talk of killing him. Blamed for something David didn’t do, he scurried to his hiding place. “Bless the Lord, oh my soul. Bless the Lord, oh my soul.”
1 Samuel 30:6
And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.
Betrayal wounds one deeply because it speaks of broken trust, rejected love, and the feelings that come when you feel all alone in the world. David was no stranger to the darkness of betrayal. King Saul had received him, loved him, hated him, and sought to kill him all in one giant betrayal package. The darkness of this relationship was not one David wanted any part of, but he had to stay because he loved his king. He refused to betray King Saul in return, and no one could convince him to do otherwise. No, he preferred to be the one who lived in the darkness caused by the King’s hatred. Instead, he preferred to seek for his treasure in the darkness that surrounded him.
David understood that if he were to survive this process, he had to tell his soul what to do. He couldn’t change the King, but he could change himself. No one could say David hadn’t tried to restore his relationship with Saul, and yet day after day there was no relief. David ran and hid, hoping Saul would change his mind and open his heart once again to him. But it was so hard, and he was becoming weary of living in the shadows of the darkness.
Those living in Zicklag were all like David, escaping the clutches of the king. They were the poor, in debt, broken, and wanted men. There was a fear that some who came were still loyal to the king, only joining David’s group to betray them all. It seemed that no one knew exactly which side everyone was on. It took faith and trust to walk-in that darkness. One thing that was sure, David loved them all, no matter what side they were on. Even after all the king had done to David, he would never betray him. That was why it was so hard when his men threatened to kill him in Zicklag. David had taken them all in, and provided for them without question. Now those same men threatened his life.
The pain of loving someone who has turned their back on you is beyond words, as that pain goes into the deepest parts of our soul. The darkness threatens to consume a person until there is no life left, and all David knew to do was to encourage himself in the Lord. Singing his songs of praise, he dug his way out of the darkness, finding treasure as he went. “The Lord is my light. The Lord God Almighty keeps me in the face of my enemies. He is my salvation. When people come to seek my life, it is my God who defends me.”
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.
One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.
For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD.
There were treasures that David didn’t know he was unearthing with his praise. While David was encouraging himself in the Lord, God was making him the king. King Saul was at that same time, fighting a battle in which he would not survive. Soon David’s treasure was much greater that he could ever imagine, for the entire kingdom was about to become his. Not only that, but the treasures David found, he left behind for us. He never knew that thousands of years later, he would share his treasure of psalms with us. Finding God as his refuge was a treasure that we might never know if David had not told his soul what to do, and in doing so, taught us how to dig as well.
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
How long will all of you attack a man to batter him, like a leaning wall, a tottering fence? They only plan to thrust him down from his high position. They take pleasure in falsehood. They bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse. Selah
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah ESV
Sometimes betrayal takes us by surprise. Imagine waking up from your wedding night and seeing someone you didn’t expect, sleeping in your bed. That happened to Jacob. Jacob had betrayed his brother, Esau. by tricking him out of his inheritance and at the urging of his mother, he fled to her brother Laban’s house. When he arrived, he fell in love at first sight with Laban’s beautiful daughter, Rachel. He couldn’t keep his eyes off from her, and vowed he would do anything to get her. The seven years of servitude her father demanded for her hand in marriage seemed small to him, and the days flew by, but when he woke up the morning after his wedding, it wasn’t Rachel laying beside him but her older, not so pretty sister, Leah. Angry at the betrayal, he stormed into Laban’s tent and demanded an answer for his trickery.
“Why did you do this to me? We had a deal. I agreed to work for seven years, and in return you promised to give me Rachel. How could you do such a thing?” Raging with anger, his face turning red as he shook his fist at his new father-in-law.
“Calm down, calm down.” Laban said. “It isn’t right that the younger sister marries before the oldest. Give Leah your attention for a week and then I will give you Rachel.” With a lecherous look in his eyes, he added, “Of course, you will work for me another seven years.”
And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be?
And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.
Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.
And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.AV
The essence of betrayal is personal, and this was about as personal as it could be. Switching his daughters on Jacob’s wedding night would have been a betrayal that many would not endure yet Jacob stayed. He had found a treasure he intended to get, and he wasn’t about to leave without her.
His conniving father-in-law changed his wages ten times – changed the rules of their agreement over and over until Jacob had enough. Laban was even more twisted than Jacob. Looking at him, Jacob saw his own reflection, and he didn’t like what he saw. His mind went back to the days he had betrayed his own brother Esau, taking his birthright and his blessing. Now he saw that he too had been evil, cut from the same cloth as his mother’s brother, a deceitful, conniving fool.
And ye know that with all my power I have served your father.
And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.
One day, God spoke to Jacob to leave and to go back to his father’s land. He was more than ready to go. The darkness of deceit had shown him one thing. If he were to get the fullness of his treasure, he had to go home. But going home would not be easy. Esau was there – the one he had betrayed.
On the way, he encountered a group of angels sent from God to protect him as he went and then the Angel of the Lord, God himself, came and Jacob wrestled with him all night. He had been fighting personal demons his whole life, but now he fought something greater than he imagined. Hanging on for dear life he fought, never tiring, but with an almost supernatural tenacity he hung on even after The Lord demanded to be let go. Jacob was digging for his treasure. He wanted to be changed. He wanted to leave the life of betrayal behind him, and was ready to become a new man. “I won’t let you go until you bless me,” He said. With a supernatural grasp Jacob hung on, demanding his treasure. “Bless me. Change me. I can not leave this darkness until I am no longer the same.”
And Jacob hath gone on his way, and messengers of God come upon him; and Jacob saith, when he hath seen them, ‘This is the camp of God;’ESV
But Jacob stayed behind by himself, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.
When the man saw that he couldn’t get the best of Jacob as they wrestled, he deliberately threw Jacob’s hip out of joint.
The man said, “Let me go; it’s daybreak.”
Jacob said, “I won’t. I’m not letting you go ’til you bless me.”
The man said, “What’s your name?”
He answered, “Jacob.”
The man said, “But no longer. Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it’s Israel (God-Wrestler); you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through.”
Jacob asked, “And what’s your name?”
The man said, “Why do you want to know my name?” And then, right then and there, he blessed him. Jacob named the place Peniel (God’s Face) because, he said, “I saw God face-to-face and lived to tell the story!”Message Version
Jacob was digging for his treasure with all of his strength, holding on until it came. “You are no longer Jacob.” The Lord said. “Now you are Israel, for you have wrestled with God and have come out with your treasure. You will never be the same.”
It’s an awful feeling to love, trust, or respect someone, and then to have that person turn on you. Perhaps you have been betrayed. There are fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, friends, and even some in church leadership who are guilty of betrayal for the sake of money, fame, addiction, and a host of other selfish reasons. The darkness that consumes one who had been betrayed is overwhelming, but the way out of the pit of betrayal remains the same for us today as it did for Jacob. “Oh God, don’t let me become like them. Change me. I won’t let you go till that happens, and I refuse to leave this dark and lonely place until I have to have my treasure. I can not leave without it.”
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. ESV
You see, one of the plans of the devil is to make us so hurt and angry by the betrayal that in our darkness, we become like the betrayer. But God, in his great mercy, has given us a way out, and, in the process, He has given us treasure. David wrote the Psalms and received the kingdom. Jacob, now Israel, came home to a brother who still loved him, and became the father of a nation named after him.
Just imagine what treasure you will carry out of the darkness of betrayal. James tells us we should count it all joy when we are struggling and that the treasure we find will produce strength and endurance. He tells us we will walk out of our darkness perfect and complete, wanting nothing. Oh dear friend, don’t let the darkness consume you, but instead use the darkness as your opportunity to dig for hidden treasure. Don’t let go of God until he blesses you, because you never know what glorious treasures you might find.