1 Samuel 22:1–23:29; 1 Peter 1:13–19; Psalm 123:1–124:8
Distress can unite people. In difficult moments, in shared pain, we discover our true friends. When David fled from King Saul, his divided family was suddenly supportive of him, as was every man in the region who was distressed or indebted (1 Sam 22:1–2; compare 1 Sam 17:28–30). A shared sense of despair reveals the humanity in us all, helping us to get past our disputes and work together for one purpose.
For a disjointed band of brothers to be united beyond initial circumstance, they must have one purpose. That’s precisely what David gave his motley crew: They would fight the Philistines (Israel’s greatest enemies) together (1 Sam 23:1–5). David took a terrible situation and turned it into an opportunity to do what needed to be done. As rightful king, David was obligated to protect Israel. Yet it still took outstanding courage and raw leadership to act upon that obligation. When most people would have been paralyzed by fear, David was prepared for action—and that marked him as Israel’s new leader. David’s strength in adversity enabled him to unite people for a cause, and his God-centered focus made him the ideal leader of God’s people.
Peter’s remark in his first letter resonates with this idea: “When you have prepared your minds for action, by being self-controlled, put your hope completely in the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former desires you used to conform to in your ignorance” (1 Pet 1:13–14). The ignorance Peter addresses is sin. Although David was dealing with someone else’s sin, both he and Peter identify the same solution: Focus on God and His work.
When things get difficult, we should be aware of how we are being subtly drawn away from God’s work. If we can stay focused on Christ, we can stay focused on God’s purposes. In return, we will find the ability to lead any motley crew toward redemption.
Where is God calling you to lead? How can you shift your focus to be stronger in this task?
John D. Barry
 Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.