We have recently been walking through defining moments in the life of David, good and bad, and watching how God used these events in his life to shape him into a man after God's own heart. Today we will look at a powerful story, that takes place when David is very young in age (about 24 or 25 years old), and still very inexperienced as a leader; still being molded by God in his spiritual walk, as many of us are as well. So, without further introduction, we will jump into the story and let God's Word take us where He wants us to go today.
To truly appreciate the story, we have to take a moment to really contemplate everything leading up to this moment in David's life, he has been anointed by the prophet Samuel as the next King of Israel. He had an incredible victory over an unbelievable foe (Goliath), at just 15 or 16 years of age. He becomes a fearless leader in combat for Saul against the Philistines. He is so popular with Saul militarily, that he has won the hand of the King's daughter in marriage (Michal).
So, he is now the King's son-in-law. The King's own son (Jonathan) is David's closest friend. Life is going well. God's Promises are awesome, and David seems to be well on his way as planned; then, everything changes in a moment. We pick up the story just shortly after King Saul's jealousy over David's success brings about uncontrollable paranoia and rage. His anger was so great that King Saul literally tried to impale David against the wall with his spear, while David played music for him in his own courts, so David had to flee the city and go into hiding. In one swift course of events, though David had literally lived for Saul and Israel, though he had risked his life repeatedly for them—soulfully and innocently—he now had to leave his wife, and his life behind. He lost his best friend. He went from hero and future King, to a hunted criminal in the wilderness—alone. He has been betrayed by the very people he lived with and fought for. He's on the run with no job, no weapons, and no food. Life as he knows it is completely shattered. Imagine if God had promised you a great new job here, and a crooked, jealous city official had turned the police on you with orders to kill you, not bring you in for a hearing, and you left everything and everyone in life, to go into hiding? Would you be doubting God's Promise? Angry? Resentful? Scared? David goes to the only place he feels safe asking for help—the House of God, in a priestly town called Nob: 1 Samuel 21:1-3. Ahimelech was probably afraid because David led thousands, but was traveling alone, and because David had to look unkept, tired and very stressed. Remember that David is young and growing. When you are hurt, frustrated, very tired and scared, it will affect your thought process and faith greatly. It will drive a person to do things, and think things they wouldn't. Rather than trusting God, David takes it upon himself to make a way and he lies to the High Priest. He is obviously not on the King's business, and as far as we know, he is all alone. There are no other men he has directed to be somewhere else. This will be one of the most devastating lies David ever tells (85 priests and their families will die) He then directs the Priest to keep his appearance secret, and asks for help: 1 Samuel 21:7. Here, a foreshadowing of trouble to come is introduced: 1 Samuel 21:8-9. After receiving the Holy Bread from the Tabernacle, which is reserved for priests (this is why the priest asked David if he was ceremonially clean), David asks for a weapon. And God speaks a very clear warning to David with this weapon, which David refuses to hear in his state of mind. [As happened to each and every one of us here.] So don’t think that you are ever so knowledgeable or righteous; that you are not blind to God's will at times, and in need of a reminder. Who's weapon did David take? Goliath's! God was screaming to David, "Did this weapon do any good to your enemy?": 1 Samuel 17:45-46. God is reminding David that the last time he faced impossible odds, he trusted in God Himself to deliver him, not his own hand. There was nothing wrong with being armed and prepared, but David, in his lies and in his fearful attitude was obviously trusting only in himself for deliverance at this point. What is God's powerful question to us with this example? Is your prayer to God simply a faithless step you go through when in trouble? Do you rely completely on self to get through in hard times? Or, do you seriously pray with expectation? Ready to accept God's help, in God's way and time? Most rely on God when their power, and their way hasn't worked out. David became a man after God's own heart by seeking God's will and power first. But refreshingly for us, David also had to be molded and taught—as we do: 1 Samuel 21:10-11. Then David, driven by his fear rather than his faith, does something that is completely ridiculous. He goes into the literal hometown of the legendary hero of the Philistines; he goes to the city of the hero he killed, while carrying the very sword he used to kill him, in hopes that he could blend in amongst the enemy and not be pursued by Saul, because he is too scared follow. The only problem with that, is it was about like killing someone, then driving into town on their car. David realizes what he's done, and literally has to fake being insane in order for the King to let him go. Application here: I have personally seen people get into a situation that makes them angry or doubtful of God, and in response, they leave God and His people. They go out into the world and drown in self-pity and fear, wanting to get away from those who hurt them. David left the very people he was called to lead and protect, to hide as one of the enemy, rather than trust God. But, get this: even in his worst doubts, fears, and failures, God never got discouraged or abandoned him. Nor will God abandon you when you fail Him when you run. And one of the reasons God was so fond of David, and anointed his life so greatly was because David always had the most incredible faith that God would be with him, even when he knew he was the one that failed. Listen to part of this Psalm that David wrote while in prison in Gath:
Psalm 56:8-11. Listen to the confidence in David's words of God's love and faithfulness.
So, God delivers him and David returns to his homeland, but now, has to resort to living in the caves of the mountains to survive. (Adullum). Can you imagine at 24 or 25yrs old, running into the woods, and living off the land in fear of your life? This was just as shocking as it would be right now: 1 Samuel 22:1-2. Now, here is where it gets very interesting, so we need to get the details. Word gets out about David, the mightiest man of Israel, being a renegade from the law, and everyone who has any problem with their life in society decides it is the perfect time to break away and join him. The four hundred men that come into the caves with David, are not disciplined, trained, ethical warriors. They are burned out, frustrated, poor, in debt, angry men who are ready to quit life as they know it, and they only followed David, in the beginning, out of desperation. Sometimes God will take you to the place where there is nothing left that will give you joy or purpose. A place where everything you try to do seems to fail; a place where you have no more desire, hope, or drive to continue as life is now; just so He can show you the futility of life without Him; just so you will be desperate enough to try a New Leader. If you are there, what do you have to lose? Run to the One in the cave, rejected by the world. Listen to part of this Psalm, most probably written as David sat in the caves of the hills: Psalm 31:2-3. Now, here is where we all need to focus in for a moment. David has lost his wife, his job, his future, his belongings, his friends, his reputation. He has never felt more completely hopeless and alone. Listen to his words—again written as he sat in the caves: Psalm 142:4-5. He is completely broken, God is growing him, now, even here, David claims that God is his place of refuge. Now watch, as we see David begin to change in his faith and hope in God over his circumstances: Psalm 57:4-8. He powerfully gives worship and praise, while still as alone and troubled as ever, because something is changing in him. Instead of focusing on himself, his troubles, and what he has to lose, he realizes that his purpose is to serve God, as God sees fit. He realizes that he can be about the business of serving God and the people that he was called to rule over, no matter where he is—if he will just accept that God is in control, and that God has purpose even here, if he will just learn to love the skies he is under right now. Watch now, as David's faith and his new heart change his actions. (Because it’s only real if it changes you): 1 Samuel 23:1-5. David hears that the Philistines are attacking Keilah, which is a fortified city of the Israelites. If you take the fortified cities, other cities are easy prey. Whose job is it to protect this city? Saul's! But Saul has been too busy using his entire army to chase one man, on a personal rampage to care about his duties as King to his people. Have you ever let one thing in life, so encompass you, that you forgo everything else God calls you to do? So David, the man whom he is chasing, whom he has made miserable, lonely, and outlawed, is putting away all of his losses, all of his pain, all of his personal struggles just to stay alive and fed, and he is getting ready to lead a handful of untrained and poorly armed men, in faith that God will use them to rescue the very people that have made him a fugitive. The rest of the disgruntled men do not understand that to serve God even in hard times, is a greater calling than to protect themselves, and they reject the idea. But David now knows that focusing on how bad he has it, or what was done to him, or how nothing seems to have turned out as promised, or how these people don't deserve his help, will do nothing but destroy him from the inside. And his life will remain on hold, and it will not change one thing. Yet, to embrace where he is right now as another chance to find God's will and live for Him; another chance to show God's love and provision, even and especially for those that failed him—even and especially, when it is hard or troublesome—is his literal purpose, and will therefore bring him more joy and hope than anything else, and it will show God's true heart to those around him. Lastly, it will bring God's literal blessings his way for the love shown. David went back to the men and talked them into trusting God. And while Saul used 3000 men just to come after David, David took his mere 600 men, and did Saul's job in battle. God not only gave them great victory, but blessed them with greatly needed provisions. This early lesson no doubt, helped David's men to have the character and selfless sacrifice that made many of them David’s Mighty Men. What if David had just joined them in misery and anger? Here is what God taught us through David's story in the Scriptures: When you get weak, tired, fearful, you will fail God sometimes. But you need the confidence that He is always there for you, always ready to use you, if you will continue on. You don't trust yourself or the things of this world first when you are in a bad place, but you rely on God for guidance, purpose, and power to make a way, and you fight your way through for His glory first. When you are done wrong by those you love, done wrong by your brothers and sisters, you don't leave your them to find comfort in the world. You stay, love and help even those who hurt you, because they are God's people; they are your purpose. That is life; that is love. Lastly, most importantly: When you are lonely, abused, hurt, depressed, angry, You can’t sit and stir on your situation; you can’t sit in anger or pity. You have to realize that your first goal in life is not to be pampered, or treated good, thought well of by others, or even always be happy; but your first goal is to love God by loving and cherishing others, even and especially those that don't deserve it. You must realize that the bad places you are in, are always within God's control, therefore, they are always another opportunity to grow; to find His will and take the focus off of self in the pain; to serve others; "Learn To Love The Skies You're Under!"—those skies are always God's Plan for today to help you find your purpose in cherishing others, and trusting Him through your pain. "I asked God to help me grow, and He brought the rain!"
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