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a defeated player May 4 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Psalm 124; Psalm 108; Psalm 60; 2Samuel 8:9-14; 1Chronicles 18:9-13; Psalm 44; Psalm 20; 2Samuel 23:18-19; 1Chronicles 11:20-21; 2Samuel 23:20-39; 1Chronicles 11:22-47

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. Why? A Christian family has a wonderful testimony and then one of the children goes astray into a worldly lifestyle. Why? Sometimes God doesn't make sense. Many of us have 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?

In today's Bible reading David has been recently restored into fellowship with God. The LORD is giving him great military success, and he even gives him a gold crown to wear, which he acquires from a king he defeats. And then, unexplainably, his army is defeated. These military losses are recorded in Psalms 60, 44, and 20. We don't know anything else about them except what we read in these Psalms. In Psalm 44:17-22 (NIV) 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.

What unfair losses have we experienced? What did God want us to learn from them? Can we continue to trust him even when we suffer defeats, or will we look elsewhere when we experience loss? 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 does David emerge from his trials? Does he grow stronger or weaker? In Psalm 60 he writes,

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 has 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 continues to place his confidence in God. He realizes that even if his armies do suffer defeats, the LORD is the only one who can give ultimate victory. He trusts 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 success with no defeats might 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 is God's purpose for the Israelites, but it makes them do that. In our life, ultimately it is not strategy, superior strength, speed, or heroics which will help us win—it is God. The Israelites need his help and so do we.

Overconfidence may not be the problem in our lives, but for some it is. Have we taken God for granted that he will always give us 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 cries 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 the LORD again for victories. David's next battle against the Edomites is a big triumph. If we continue to trust in God's unfailing love, we can overcome defeats or set backs and win again.

Lessons to Live By

  • Do you know the Almighty God of heaven? He offers us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life. Through him we can have success (more...)
  • Trials test the mettle or our character.
  • When God allows us to experience defeat, he wants us to keep trusting him.
  • In our life, it is not strategy, superior strength, speed, or heroics that ensure victory—it is God.
  • Even if we suffer defeats, the LORD is the only one who can give us ultimate victory. We need to trust in his sovereignty, wisdom, and goodness like David did.

Focus Verse

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

praying hands Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

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A Look Ahead: After David suffers military defeat, he wins a great victory against the Edomites. Then, God gives him a A Glorious Promise for continuing to be faithful. Read about it in our Next Lesson.

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