As an observer of times and life, it has become apparent to me that men are not prepared to survive failures. Don’t misunderstand me; men are endowed with great strength and resilience and can recover from just about anything, but not many are prepared for this almost inevitability. Our very extensive education system is programmed on the assumption that everyone will progress through it without failure. Our careers are programmed on the same assumption. Our business schools spend so many hours examining case studies and reviewing businesses, teaching principles for success, but I doubt there is a course designed to equip these budding business leaders with tools to cope with the stress of failure. Yet less than five percent of start-up businesses make it past the first five years. People get married with the assumption that they will live happily ever after; then there is a financial stress, infidelity, barrenness, and whatever else the world throws at them; some survive, some fail, but most find it hard to come back. History is replete with failures. Abandoned dreams. Abandoned lives. Abandoned people and people who abandon themselves. Yet, there is one truth worthy of consideration: if you don’t give up, you will eventually succeed.
“For a righteous man may fall seven times
And rise again” – Proverbs 24:16
This is not a book on negativity, but it offers a dose of reality that may prevent you from being a casualty of the eventuality of failure. As you would glean later on, you are not a failure until you fail to keep trying.
As I have observed people fall to pieces after a disaster, and being a person of compassion, I always feel that these people are victims of an inadequate and unrealistic developmental system, which totally ignores the reality of life and makes people live in a triumphalist utopia that does not exist in reality. Bad things happen. Sad things happen. They happen to the best of people. People fail. Systems collapse. It is just a consequence of the fallen state of humanity and we should be better equipped to deal with it and survive them.
This is why I decided to write this book, to equip people to recover and help those who are going through failure to get through and come back up.
Now a lesson from Ziklag. Biblical names are always meaningful. There is no name, number or object in the bible that does not have significant deeper meaning than what is the obvious. The Western mind thinks of names as something to call or identify things by. Bible names are a lot deeper. They carry in them both a physical and a spiritual meaning. They also have embedded in them the prophetic destiny or significance of the named person, thing or place. Just one example will suffice.
Jerusalem is a combination of two words ‘Jeru’ and ‘Salem’ or Shalom. Jeru is Teaching and Salem is Peace. The first meaning is that this is the city that teaches peace or where peace will be taught. Interesting isn’t it? Today, Jerusalem is the city most contested in the entire world. The Jews claim it, the Moslems want it, the Christians love it and God owns it. However it is the city where God has established peace and shown the way of peace. It is the city that has produced the Prince of Peace and where the middle wall of separation has been removed. If you open your eyes properly in Jerusalem, you will find peace, because this is the city of the Prince of peace. It is also quite uncanny that despite all the turmoil of the Middle East, I have never experienced peace in another city comparable to the peace in Jerusalem, especially on the night of Yom Kippur. The peace is palpable. It is truly the city of peace. But that is just what is obvious. Let’s go slightly deeper. Jeru is a derivative of the word Yara which is the Hebrew word for teach. It means to flow like water, to throw, to point with a finger, to shoot an arrow or even to draw a line. If you expand this idea of yara to the concept of Salem or Shalom, you will begin to discover that God has destined this city to be the place where peace will be taught. Where people will find the directions for peace. Where peace will be consummated and ultimately where every human being will find peace with God and where peace will flow from. That is why the Messiah had to die in Jerusalem to reconcile man to God. Lastly, it is the line of peace or the place where the peace line is drawn. No one can ever truly find real peace or prosperity outside the King of Salem. Without Messiah there is no Shalom. Without Yeshua HaMashiach, there is no Shalom. You are either with Jesus the Messiah or you are against Him.
How about the name David? David simply means the beloved. God loved David and David loved God. Simple. But God loved David with a covenantal love. That is in an unbroken manner. He would never stop or withdraw his love from David. But on a deeper level God has chosen to reveal and manifest His greatest act of love through the seed of David. The Messiah again! So David carried in His name the love of God for every one of us, and the promise that God will love us forever and ultimately, He would express His love to us through the Son of David. Need I say more?
So back to Ziklag. What does Ziklag mean? Before we examine the name, let’s look at the location of Ziklag. It will reveal some truths we can reflect on. Ziklag is in the territory allotted to Judah, but was in the hands of the King of the Philistines called Achish. He gave David this place to live in when he fled from Saul who was trying to kill him. It is on the southern border of Judah and located in the Negev desert. It is a very dry place and quite close to the Dead Sea. This is no coincidence. David was in a territory that belonged to his tribe, but was living there as a fugitive. There are times in our lives when we find ourselves running and hiding in nations allotted to us by God as our land. We are not safe in the place God has destined us to be safe in. Secondly it was on the edge of the land of Judah and the Philistines actually controlled it. We all have allotted territories that we are yet to conquer. We have dreams and plans that God has given us and we are yet to possess them. David was already anointed and destined to be King, but he lived outside that promise, because someone else held the throne and crown. He was living on the edge of greatness as it were. Thirdly it was close to the Dead Sea — a symbol of death and desolation. David almost died in Ziklag. He almost lost it all, yet when he was going through the worst time in his life, the best was just about to break forth. He came close to losing all and ended up gaining all. Is this a coincidence? I think not.
Now the name Ziklag. It simply means “winding”. In other words, complicated, confusing, bewildering or treacherous. So David in Ziklag was a symbol of his winding path to glory. Proverbs 15:24 says “The way of life winds upward for the wise, That he may turn away from hell below” He had complicated relationship with the King of the Philistines, yet he was the anointed King of Israel in waiting. David’s treacherous experience with the Amalekites and lastly his bewilderment and the loss of his wives and children.
But there is an even more poignant meaning to the name Ziklag. It means also “covered in grief”, and it is this meaning that most aptly defines the ethos of this book. David and his men came to Ziklag to find grief. They were struck with deep grief, yet through this they learnt how to come out of grief and become men of glory again. They literarily turned the ashes of Ziklag into flames of glory. They rose and went from Ziklag all the way to Zion; and David from this one experience marched forward to become the greatest King of Israel. Are you struck with grief? Have you suffered a loss? Did you just fail at something? Is there a setback in your life? Like David, we can understand that Ziklag is not going to be your burial place. The story does not stop here. There is hope in your future and if David’s life is anything to learn from, then the best is not just yet to come, it is just round the corner. David was attacked in Ziklag, but God elected that Ziklag was David’s launching pad to greatness. Life’s worst moments carry embedded in them the greatest breakthroughs one can ever imagine. Just like God has designed every dark cloud to have a silver lining and every heavy rain to have a rainbow, whatever the dark cloud, believe me there is hope. Are you at Ziklag?