Strongholds are literally just that – things that have a strong hold over our lives. Things we wish we could get over, but many times we struggle to, and as a result enter into a state of feeling oppressed, feeling lost.
In times like this, we can hopelessly wonder, “What do I do?” As a pastor, I can tell you this: We don’t find victory just because we read our Bible. Or just because we come to church or spend five minutes a day in prayer. While those are good things to do, we will only find victory as we honor the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Someone who did this very well throughout Scripture was King David. His response to oppression is something we can all learn from. And not because he was perfect, because if you study his life, you’ll find he wasn’t, in the slightest. But he continued to press on, honoring the work of the Holy Spirit in his life, no matter how many times he failed.
Here’s how he got into the place of oppression we are going to look at. His father-in-law Saul was king at the time, and he was intimidated by God’s favor on David’s life. Saul wanted to kill David, so David had to flee the area. He had to hide in caves and couldn’t live a regular life.
His response to this oppression reveals three important things in 1 Samuel 22:1-5.
The first is found in Verse 1 when it says, “David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam.” In oppression, we must also look for escape from the place that is oppressing us. Is it a sinful relationship? Is it a wrong habit? Whatever it is, we must be strong enough to leave it behind.
Verses 1-2 give us the second key. The passage reads, “When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.” In oppression, we’ve got to have the right tribe around us – ones who will push us closer to God and His victory, not keep us stuck.
Finally, the third part is found in Verse 5, after David sought a prophet’s counsel. It says, “But the prophet Gad said to David, ‘Do not stay in the stronghold. Go into the land of Judah.’ So David left and went to the forest of Hereth.” In oppression, we too need to be encouraged to obey truth.
If we will escape what’s oppressing us, experience the right tribe and be encouraged in truth, we will overcome oppression and be rewarded with blessing. Amidst oppression, we can enjoy God’s mercy, embrace His ways, express our faith in Him, and ultimately, experience victory. There’s no one who is more for us than our Father God.