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Ziklag: The Test of Kings

by Chip Brogden
“David and his men came to Ziklag, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives” (I Sam. 30:3)
Early in my Christian walk I somehow reached the erroneous conclusion that if you love God and do what His Word says then nothing bad will ever happen to you. This idea was reinforced by teachers and preachers who claimed that people who knew how to exercise their faith and operate under the anointing and walk in the Spirit would never get sick, become depressed, lose money, or come under spiritual attack.

Time and experience are patient teachers, and in their classroom I learned a different view of life.

Consider the life of David, “a man after God’s own heart”, the “sweet psalmist of Israel.” Surely a man after God’s own heart will never have to experience terrible trials, afflictions, misunderstanding, suffering, rejection, pain or misfortune!

But in David we see that even someone who is after God’s own heart, someone who seeks Him early and often, someone who desires Him more than anything else – yes, THAT kind of person, ESPECIALLY that kind of person! – will be called upon to endure some of the most excruciating physical, emotional, and spiritual rigors imaginable.

Disaster At Ziklag

David’s problems began as soon as he was anointed! As soon as his calling and destiny was confirmed by Samuel the prophet, David became a target for the jealous rage of Saul. The anointing, for David, was like a huge sign around his neck that invited trouble.

I Samuel 30 records one of the severest tests in David’s life. Circumstances would force him into a “do or die” situation. His response to this test would either confirm his destiny as king or destroy him completely. There would be no warning for what was about to happen, and there would be no second chances.

“And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire; And had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way. So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives” (I Samuel 30:1-3).

How do you respond to impossible situations? How do you react when everything you hold dear is taken from you? The first reaction is quite natural, quite human, and quite understandable:

“Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep” (I Samuel 30:4).

I cannot imagine what those six hundred screaming, crying men sounded like. It must have been the most awful sound in the world. They wept, and cried, and screamed out in agony, until they had no more power to weep. How long did this go on? I don’t know, but the episode left them emotionally bankrupt, absolutely numb from grief, with no more power to cry even though they wanted to.

But it would get worse before it got better!

Will You Choose to Get Bitter, or Get Better?

“And David’s two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite. And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters…” (I Samuel 30:5,6a).

Not only did David have to deal with his own personal loss, but he also had to deal with the combined losses of his men, who were now looking for someone to blame. David, as the leader, was the most likely target. Facing Goliath is one thing, but dealing with six hundred angry, grief-stricken men is another.

It looked like David was done for. Six hundred angry men coming against one man. There could be no escape from this.

I believe that every one of us will, at least one time in our life, come face-to-face with a Ziklag experience. Everything you have in this world is either taken away or burning down right before your eyes.

Friends, I have learned that when things like this “come to pass” in your life, you have a choice. You can get bitter, or you can get better. Six hundred men chose to get bitter. That is the easy path. One man chose to get better. That is the narrow path.

Kings are anointed by God and selected based on how they respond to situations like this.

How would you respond?

In a similar situation, many of us would have had this conversation with ourselves: “I thought God had called me. I thought God had anointed me to be king of Israel. But that was a long time ago, and I have seen nothing but trouble ever since. I have spent the best years of my life running from Saul. I did the right thing, and now I’m being punished. What do I have to show for it? Absolutely nothing! I’ve lost my family and everything I have is going up in smoke. The people are ready to stone me. Everything is against me. I quit! I give up! Just let me die so I can have some peace! God can keep his anointing, it’s too much of a price to pay.”

I know most of us would say this because most of us HAVE said this at one time or another. I have given up many times (at least temporarily) because the pressure was too great. The easiest thing to do in a situation like this is to just lay down and die. And that is what most people end up doing.

David had an opportunity to do the same thing.

This verse could have very easily read:

“And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters. So David gave up, and the people stoned him, and tossed his body onto the burning rubble of Ziklag. And God was very displeased and began looking for a new king…”

This worst-case scenario is actually played out in real-life with real brothers and sisters who have a real calling from God but are on the verge of giving up because Ziklag has left them wounded, hurt, bitter, disillusioned, jaded, frustrated, or disappointed.

Brothers and sisters, Ziklag can either be your graveyard or your greatest opportunity. The decision is yours.

“But David Encouraged Himself”

What did David do?

“…But David encouraged himself in the Lord His God.” (I Samuel 30:6b).

Thank the Lord for “but”! The sheer weight of things was piling up. The pressure was enormous. One bad thing after another was coming against David. One tiny word – “but” – introduces something new, something different, something that rises up to stand against all this doom, depression, disillusionment, distress, and desperation.

Nothing had changed and the situation looked hopeless – but David encouraged himself in the Lord His God.

In a similar situation we might call the pastor to come pray for us. We might look for a prophet to give us a word. We might go to our brothers and sisters and ask them to pray for a breakthrough. If we have people around us then we can and should ask for their prayers and support. Yet David had none of this.

What do you do when all visible means of support have collapsed? What do you do when the people you used to be friends with are now ready to stone you? And what do you do when you are all alone? The easiest thing to do is quit.

“But David encouraged himself in the Lord His God.”

One translation says, “But David strengthened himself in the Lord His God.” Another version says, “But David took courage from the Lord His God.”

How did he do it? Was it a special song? Was it a special prayer? Was it something he confessed? Exactly how did David encourage himself?

We do not know, because the Bible does not say specifically. He probably did a little of all the above. He probably went back in time and remembered how the Lord helped him to kill the lion and the bear who tried to steal his father’s sheep. He probably thought about the time the Lord helped him to slay Goliath. He probably thought about all the times when the Lord had delivered him from being destroyed by Saul.

All that is speculation, but here is what I want you to know: if David could encourage himself in the Lord, so can you. You can encourage YOURSELF.

Since most people are takers, and not givers, most people are looking to receive encouragement, not give it. It is very difficult to find encouragement in other people. I am always appreciative of encouraging letters and kind words when I receive them, but I cannot always depend on other people to encourage me. Neither can you.

“But David encouraged HIMSELF.”

You have to learn to encourage yourself. You will not always find encouragement in your circumstances. It is not easy to look on the ashes of your life and imagine anything good coming out of it. Fiery trials and difficult tests are not conducive to encouragement. Most of the things in this world are specifically designed to DIScourage you.

“But David encouraged HIMSELF.”

When the enemy says, “You’ve lost everything”, you can encourage yourself in the Lord your God!

When friends forsake you and the people say, “It’s all your fault”, you can encourage yourself in the Lord your God!

When your circumstances say, “You’ll never make it out alive,” you can encourage yourself in the Lord your God!

What is the secret to David’s strength? Where did David find encouragement? Certainly not in his situation. Not in the prophet Samuel. Not in his family and friends.

“But David encouraged himself IN THE LORD his God.”

In the Lord! In the Lord! In the Lord!

This is why Paul could say, “When I am weak, then I am strong. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice! Because it is GOD Who is working in you, and He WILL complete the good work He has begun in you, and ALL THINGS are working together for good according to HIS purpose!”

This is not some kind of positive confession, faith-promise formula. It is not up to you, it is up to Him, and since you have nothing to lose anyway, you have everything to gain by casting yourself completely upon the Lord and finding your strength IN HIM.

Pursue and Recover All!

When David had encouraged himself in the Lord, and asked God what to do next, the Lord said,

“Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all” (I Samuel 30:8b).

And so David wiped away his tears, took his sword, led his six hundred angry men into battle, defeated the enemy, and recovered everything they had lost.

That’s what it means to be a king.

On that day, David turned tragedy into triumph. He passed the Ziklag test. He did not have his crown yet – that would come later, but that did not matter right now. He did not need a crown or a throne to prove he was a king. His kingship was demonstrated there in the rubble of Ziklag, where he learned to encourage himself in the Lord His God.

Don’t ever give up! Ziklag is not your final resting place, it is only the test of kings. Encourage yourself in the Lord, pursue, recover, and move forward. This is your destiny, and this is the word of the Lord to you. May it be so!


  1. eve

    There have been many times in my life when I wanted to give in to circumstance. If I had I would not be the mother of two wonderful children.

    I am in Christ and Christ is in me. He can make a way with those around you, whether friends, pastors or physicians tell you what you wish to achieve is impossible.

    Hold onto God, but if you can’t for you are exhausted let me say that God is never tired and will never let go of you.

    I will be with you. I will not leave you. Joshua 1:5

    Rest in him.

    eve, uk

    Watch and pray. Mark 13:33… see what he does for you… 🙂

    • Mary

      I thank God for putting Ziklag in my spirit because i really wanted to give up on something God told me to do and i said some of the thing that was in this passage but after reading this Iam even the more ready to take on my task PRAISE THE LORD

  2. dennis

    i recently was involved in a spiritual attack which involved bringing foreward my disobedence to jesus. when i looked within myself i stood on jesus loves me this i know for the bible tells me so.on earth i am jesus”s child in heaven god”s son

  3. tracy

    Thanks Chip…. God led me here to read this today over all the other articles – and this is precisely where I am at right now.. God Bless

  4. Julie

    this article is a great encouragement, it is so true we can get bitter or get better, it reminds me a saying the Lord led me too only this week: you can be pitiful or you can be powerful, but you cannot be both, so choose. If we are to be overcomers, we must get back up out of the dust and pass the test of kings.

  5. Kendall

    I believe that nothing can happen in the life of a child of God unless God allows it for His will and purpose in our lives. And He is the one that allows situations and circumstances in our lives to test us and see how we will react. Trusting and believing His Word, or become resentful bitter and shrivel in our innerman. If God be for us who (or what) can be against us? God is in control of all things and it is always our choice to encourage ourselves in Him. and go forward. Peace be unto you in Jesus.

  6. Eveline Gerber

    Brilliant! Why? Because David instinctively knew that he had no other reliable choice. Such is the power of faith when thought and nurtured through ones intimacy with the Father- come hell or high water- and they will come! Genesis 3:15

  7. Valerie

    What an incredible picture is painted here with words of strength to remember! Personally, I am in a situation right now wondering why a couple individuals I’ve had contact with are so set on tearing down and bashing spiritual leaders (I’m not saying I’ve never visited this place 🙁 Thank God for His grace!

    Received deeper insight through this article. This is a very important word to ponder for the tough times ahead. “pursue, recover, and move forward”- so love these Words. Such an excellent article, Chip.

  8. Ken

    Terrific article Chip…. Certainly spoke to me in a timely manner. I have no doubt you could e-mail this article every 12 months and find it touches people in their situation.
    Many of the Psalms written by David reinforce what you are saying re-David’s actual experience as he walked with God.
    What many of us do not take into account is that Jesus suffered (in the flesh) in exactly the same way. If you have any doubt about this, reread Jesus experience at Gethsemane prior to his crucifixion and re-read Psalms 22 and Psalms 69.
    These two Psalms have been a great encouragement to me re-this aspect of our walk with God.

  9. marcelle

    praise God for this encouraging message. The best I ever read or listened. Ziklag is what I am still experiencing. Fighting for my life every day is a battle. Crying for healing and deliverance. Crying for your children. Facing one challenge after the other. I pray that God will give me the strenght wisdom and power to fight back so I can receive my crown. Its not easy telling people of Gods goodness and nothing changes in your life. Ziklag.

  10. Adi

    Thank you. I faced my ‘Ziklag’ right on new year 2012. My wife is asking for a divorce. Like David and his men, I wept till I have no strength left. There is no one who can help to salvage our situation. I went to ‘Michal’, ‘Samuel’, ‘Jonathan’, ‘Ahimelech’, ‘Achish’ and many others. In them, I found no healing or escape. One by one, my hope and faith is broken and crushed till nothing is left, or so I thought.

    Then, I found strength in the Lord. God may not permit me ‘to overtake my wife and succeed in the reconciliation’. I do sincerely wish for that, but may God’s will be done, not mine. regards

  11. Bernd

    Ziklag has featured a lot in my life recently and this morning I felt urged to read more about it online and I came across your writings. I have lost everything and am facing my Ziklag right now and instead of going into despair, I asked God to fill me with His strength and to give me courage to stand through all this and then I read what you wrote and it was confirmation of how I want to address the challenges facing me, putting God first. I thank God for your obedience and giving you this message to share with others in the kingdom.

  12. Yvonne

    God is truly amazing as i searched and need to hold on i now understand how David recovered it all. I have no friends i believe im a conquerer. As I go through challege after challenge I became weary, from lthe loss of my mom, motherinlaw and father with in months of each other. Then my job up in the catagory, being suspened was an arrow in my heart for following procedures, loss my joy, peace, fellings of despair n hopelessness for days n days. I have to continue to keep the fairh n practice what i do on Sundays every day. I believe!! I believe!! I believe the drought is over!!! Praise n worship no matter what circumstances surround me.

  13. robert cagnetta

    thank you for writing what you have. for me personally – i thank god for this confirmation indeed. tired and weary and wanting to give up- i will wait and i know god will now answer………………

  14. robert cagnetta

    Words cannot describe sometimes what is happening to those who want to follow Jesus. I feel alone in many areas. David came through- as have many in the days we live in. I thank you Lord for explaining to me where I am today. A time comes in our lives where we must face ZIKLAG. Today I am not alone………….

  15. Hephzibah Mphahlele

    All I can say is Hallelujah. Though Ziglag may be tough, He has proved Himself over and over to be Faithful and Trustworthy. He is the Keeper of His Word. I can do all things through Christ who gives me Strength!!

    Thank you for this wonderful message, may the Lord Bless You!


  16. Naveen Yegyan

    Praise the Lord brother.

    Thanks for the encouragement. It’s only a place of test, but the ultimate crown is gonna come very soon to His children. I say yes and Amen….

    I would be glad if I encourage others who are going through Ziklag test.

    Keep posting on God’s word.

  17. Naveen Yegyan

    We were born to be God’s kings. I also want to add this ….

  18. Karyn Shwatja


  19. Susan

    Praise you Lord for your mighty acts! I read this Ziglak teaching earlier today, BUT I had already read the account in the Bible yesterday. I kept going back and back, because the Holy Spirit kept “Ziklag” on my mind. I had also been reading about Elijah and Nehemiah. To make a long story short, everything I’ve read came together today. What you said brother…it was EXACTLY what was in my heart. What a Blessed confirmation. WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE! I seem to have had “Ziklag” events my entire life, but as we speak am going through one that I can’t even begin to tell you the brevity of it. I will lift everyone up in prayer. I also go to 1John 3:20 often…our Lord is even so gracious in that He knows when we think this of ourselves. THANK YOU LORD JESUS. Thank you brother for your words. MAY THE LORD GOD OPEN THE FLOODGATES OF HEAVEN TO OF YOU!

  20. Beverly

    In April 2013shortly after mid day pray at my church God spoke to me about ” ZIKLAG THE TEST OF KINGS” . In may i have pray every night at midnight . So as soon as that was done i started researching the phrase God had said to me in prayer. And oh boy did i not realize how much of that i had gone through in my own life. Just want to let u know u were used by God to bring encouragement.

  21. Carylen Terry

    Thank the Lord for his grace and mercy.

  22. Edmore Moyo

    Thank you for such spiritual upliftment , insight and encouragement. It is my obligation to be in constant spiritual pilgrimage: looking/seeking for a city whose maker and builder is God. I will not tarry at Ziklag. But from it, i will strengthen myself in the lord my God.

    God bless you.

  23. Jocelyne Ramana

    Que ce message au sujet de Ziklag reste gravé en mon fort intérieur. Que je prononce avec foi et détermination comme David “mais que je reprenne courage en mon Dieu”. Vivre et chérir la Présence de Dieu comme David… Tenons bon!! Notre plus grand exemple et notre victoire c’est Golgotha… La Croix… pour nos péchés… et la Resurrection… la Vie… Tout cela pour nous… Christ en nous est notre Victoire…

  24. Janet Hagen

    In going through and facing my personal Ziklags, I am reminded of how many tears of sorrow, loss, frustrations, fear, perplexity, etc. I shed at His feet. I check myself first and confess sins, get as right as rain with the Lord and acknowledge that He puts my tears in His bottle. He is in control of this season. It is His business to say “when” Ziklag season ends. I have come through a latest Ziklag season & can look back and see how He brought me through. My point is that, its ok to cry..a lot… while you’re strengthening yourself in Him. Its an honesty we have with our lord. He knows it all, amen?

  25. Regina Sanchez

    Thank you for this reminder. I am currently going through my second major Ziklag and do pray that I am encouraged by the Lord. The battle is long but I still feel strong in Him (today). I am standing on the promise that he gave me in December of 2011 “Go after them, you will surely recover all that was taken from you.” There were 5 things taken. Today date, 8/7/13 I’ve recovered two of the 5. God is good. God Bless.

  26. guillaume beguelin

    So true, so good, praise God

  27. silas

    Thanks for the encouraging text which really hit my head right there wherein I was unable to pass thro’ ziklag. Keep praying for me to withstand, face such difficult situations especially to encourage myself in the LORD. Yes, I can do all things in Christ who strengthen me.

  28. Dan Perez

    God is really great!…He will never let us down if we only knew how to encourage ourselves in him…thanks for this article that would remind me always when times get tough…Praise the Lord!

  29. Regina

    Amen. God must be trusted in all situations. He is our strength.

  30. Sunnyboy Nhlapho

    What a Powerful presentation of God through Ziklag!!! May God Bless You Baba!! May he forgive you of all your sins…May you be in Paradise…!! This was God speaking here!!!

  31. Ara Shahumyan


  32. Kenneth Dawson

    Thats right–Never give up–Dad is faithful!

  33. Mike S Quintana

    Thanks Chip for reminding us of his greatness in our lives. Especially when we were in great desperate need of him to help us through those impossible trials and times in life. I don’t believe any man is spiritually stronger than the trials he goes through in life when he is truly following Jesus with his all.


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