…Before the dawn?
Doesn’t it feel like this is true when everything around you is falling apart? When even a few minor things don’t go as you planned it can quickly seem like this!
But, of course, It’s not technically true. From a scientific perspective, it’s not “darkest” because of the sun’s indirect rays that light up the sky right before dawn. This popular sentiment is an idiom, a phrase that is not meant to be taken literally. It was first written down a few years back (1869) by Thomas Fuller in a book entitled “A Pisgah Sight of Palestine”.
But David to avoid this shower of stones ready to rain upon him ran for shelter to God his Rock in whom he comforted himself. Thus as it is always darkest just before the day dawneth, so God useth to visit His servants with greatest afflictions when he intendeth their speedy advancement. For immediately after David not only recovered his loss with advantage but also was proclaimed king of Israel though some war arose for a time between him and Ishbosheth.
This paragraph is referring to the epic story of David and Saul from 1 Samuel. Fuller’s words do a great job of conveying that it only seemed like it was the darkest to the person in the situation – David. David was having a very bad day, and he knew that to get through it he needed to find some strength.
3 When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. 5 David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 6 David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.
– 1 Samuel 30:3-6
If David and his men’s families were killed and the army had stoned their leader, that would indeed have been a bad day. The point here is that even though it was a very dark time for David, God was in control the entire time. When David “ran for shelter to God his Rock in whom he comforted himself”, he found that God not only delivered him from the immediate trouble, but he made him King shortly afterwards!
How many times has this happened to you? Circumstances have spun out of your control. The panic has set in. The enemy is whispering in your ear that you are done for. It’s dark and the people around you are picking up stones. I have been there!
I can also remember that in most of those cases, when I fell to my knees and worshiped and prayed like David, the result was way better than I expected! The idiom has become one of hope for me because I know that the Lord is involved and I know that dawn is coming. When I glimpse those first rays, my heart soars.
Maybe we should turn Fuller’s idiom into a positive affirmation – “It sometimes seems darkest before the dawn, but because we trust and praise the Lord for His faithfulness we will soon experience His glorious new day.”