March 10, 2016

David’s Spiritual Wilderness-The Same As Ours

[Examination of 1 Samuel 21, Psalm 34 and Psalm 56]

Then David came to Nob to Ahimelech the priest; and Ahimelech came trembling to meet David and said to him, “Why are you alone and no one with you?” David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has commissioned me with a matter and has said to me, ‘Let no one know anything about the matter on which I am sending you and with which I have commissioned you; and I have directed the young men to a certain place.’ Now therefore, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever can be found.” The priest answered David and said, “There is no ordinary bread on hand, but there is consecrated bread; if only the young men have kept themselves from women.” David answered the priest and said to him, “Surely women have been kept from us as previously when I set out and the vessels of the young men were holy, though it was an ordinary journey; how much more then today will their vessels be holy?” So the priest gave him consecrated bread; for there was no bread there but the bread of the Presence which was removed from before the Lord, in order to put hot bread in its place when it was taken away. Now one of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before the Lord; and his name was Doeg the Edomite, the chief of Saul’s shepherds. David said to Ahimelech, “Now is there not a spear or a sword on hand? For I brought neither my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king’s matter was urgent.” Then the priest said, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the valley of Elah, behold, it is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod; if you would take it for yourself, take it. For there is no other except it here.” And David said, “There is none like it; give it to me.” 10 Then David arose and fled that day from Saul, and went to Achish king of Gath. 11 But the servants of Achish said to him, “Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of this one as they danced, saying, "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?” 12 David took these words to heart and greatly feared Achish king of Gath. 13 So he disguised his sanity before them, and acted insanely in their hands, and scribbled on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva run down into his beard. 14 Then Achish said to his servants, “Behold, you see the man behaving as a madman. Why do you bring him to me? 15 Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this one to act the madman in my presence? Shall this one come into my house?”

Rejection precedes acceptance, and suffering precedes reigning. The humble in God will be exalted by God. The rich become last and the poor first. Blessed are the poor, meek, downtrodden…for God will restore them…

The true servant of God must willingly suffer affliction with the full assurance that God is performing His purposes. Positions of prominence and prestige are not to be sought and worked for. This is counterintuitive to men but commonsense to God and things of biblical origin. Rather, the leader who desires Christ's blessing must wait patiently on Him for advancement and promotion to opportunities of greater service. It is not through our own devices or by our own volition that men are saved. It is by the Gospel. A Gospel by God, through God and for God.

In 1 Samuel David makes some grievous mistakes in his early years as a fugitive. He handled himself better as time passed yet he remained a sinner. A fairly flawed sinner. A condition which will rear its head again later in life (Bathsheba). During this time God was training and honing him like the sharp point of a sword for future service. David proceeded to explain that the reason he was alone was that he had sent his soldiers elsewhere. He intended to rendezvous with them shortly and had come to Nob himself to obtain provisions, protection, and prayer in 1 Samuel 22:10.

David's next decisions would be even more troubling in light of current duress and life struggles. From a divine standpoint or seen from a divine standpoint…they might appear to make more sense. That is…if we theologically view God working behind the scene in David’s tumultuous life. Where he would go for refuge and redemption other than God would cause him even more problems and revealed just how far David had drifted from God. There is a lesson for all to learn here. His refuge also proved to be as insecure as his thought processes. It is an enigma why David sought refuge with an enemy’s weapon (Goliath's sword) in that very enemy’s hometown. It defies commonsense.

I suspect David’s actions defy commonsense because, as a whole, to not turn to God for answers and security in turmoil is itself lacking in commonsense. We are given over to our own stupidity when we reject the knowledge of God in our lives (Romans 1). Interestingly we see an untried untempered man reaching for the warriors’ blade of known temper and durability as it had been used for battle by Goliath. In a similar way we see here a testing and tempering of the very man that was now reaching for the Goliath's sword to use it. Both are tools that will be used for God’s purpose. It just so happens that one is an untested spiritually-dulled human man.

In Gath carrying Goliath’s sword, David would therefore have stood-out like a prostitute at Sunday school.

The people of Gath identified him immediately and identified him as “king of the land” either in mockery or seriousness (v. 11). This may have been a slight but it is more probable that they may have heard of David's anointing as Israel's next king. Regardless, Achish’s advisers took David's presence as a serious political threat. David sensed his personal danger and pretended to be insane to preserve his life. Achish dismissed David as mad and deemed him of no use against Saul.

Furthermore, ancient Near Easterners regarded the insane as harbingers of evil and avoided them. In both Nob and Gath David resorted to self-reliance through deception and lying to protect himself, and in each case negative adversarial consequences resulted. He should’ve placed himself in God’s hands in faith.

That is one of the lessons to be learned here.

David eventually does rely on the Lord. He also trusted in the Lord when he wrote Psalms 56 and 34 during/after his time in Gath, according to the titles of those psalms. In Psalm 34 and 56 we see David reflecting back on the trials of earlier days. They are proof positive that bad days do not last forever. They reveal that he was trusting God at the time of the Psalms after 1 Samuel 21's
 troubles had diminished and become memories. His ultimate hope for provision and protection was not himself or the priests or Saul's enemies (other people)...but the Lord Himself.

The little faith that he did exhibit in these times undoubtedly explains the fact that God preserved him during these "lean" times and some good consequences came out of these experiences as noted in the Psalms. David had two later encounters with Achish both of which were beneficial for David. 1 Samuel 21 helps us see the mixture of right and wrong in human Christian decision-making and human actions. David's psalms clarify the proper response that the godly should make when opposition assails us from all sides with no reprieve or exit out of them.

Additionally, we see that when people refuse to submit to God's authority over them, they begin to die spiritually, socially, psychologically, and physically (Romans 6:23). We see this not only in David’s narrative but also Saul and Eli’s in this very same narrative. Eli, the priest, put his family before God. Consequently God cut off his family. God used David's folly to accomplish His will. So even in this David became a blessing to others which in turn actually helped him. Saul, the king, put himself before God. Therefore God cut off his life also even his good son Jonathan ends up dead. Saul became increasingly paranoid, isolated from others, hateful toward his supporters as well as his enemies, and guilty of shedding innocent blood.

When people submit to God's authority over them, they really begin to live (John 10:10). David submitted to God's authority over him. His sins, including deceiving Ahimelech, bore bad consequences for himself and others. Nevertheless God continued to bless and use David. He blessed him personally: David continued to rise to the throne. In David we see a man of human foibles holding on to a former life not intended for him in fear of changing. Resisting that change is not allowing him to see the grander picture laid out before him by God for use in service to Him. What we are seeing in David is an example of indiscretion and poor decision-making being the better part of valor. His indiscretion or poor decision-making looks like courage but in reality...he's just making really bad decisions without God in the picture.

We know where we stand when we ask a simple question. David learned this lesson and most likely asked similar questions to gauge his position before God. Do we seek God for guidance over the long haul or do we consistently rely on our own judgments without prayer? Where you stand with God is directly reflective of how you answer this question.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

please give credit where credit is due! - by referencing the content you use <3 [constructive feedback]

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