WHAT REALLY MATTERS
Gracious Lord, I praise you for the gift of this day; for the blessings it bestows and the challenges it presents.
Read 1 SAMUEL 23:14-29
14 David stayed in the wilderness strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands.
15 While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that[a] Saul had come out to take his life. 16 And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. 17 “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.” 18 The two of them made a covenant before the Lord. Then Jonathan went home, but David remained at Horesh.
19 The Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Is not David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hakilah, south of Jeshimon? 20 Now, Your Majesty, come down whenever it pleases you to do so, and we will be responsible for giving him into your hands.”
21 Saul replied, “The Lord bless you for your concern for me. 22 Go and get more information. Find out where David usually goes and who has seen him there. They tell me he is very crafty. 23 Find out about all the hiding places he uses and come back to me with definite information. Then I will go with you; if he is in the area, I will track him down among all the clans of Judah.”
24 So they set out and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Now David and his men were in the Desert of Maon, in the Arabah south of Jeshimon. 25 Saul and his men began the search, and when David was told about it, he went down to the rock and stayed in the Desert of Maon. When Saul heard this, he went into the Desert of Maon in pursuit of David.
26 Saul was going along one side of the mountain, and David and his men were on the other side, hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his forces were closing in on David and his men to capture them, 27 a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Come quickly! The Philistines are raiding the land.” 28 Then Saul broke off his pursuit of David and went to meet the Philistines. That is why they call this place Sela Hammahlekoth.[b] 29 And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of En Gedi.[c]
- 1 Samuel 23:15 Or he was afraid because
- 1 Samuel 23:28 Sela Hammahlekoth means rock of parting.
- 1 Samuel 23:29 In Hebrew texts this verse (23:29) is numbered 24:1.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Reflect‘You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high’ (Psalm 3:3).
There is something a bit comical about the picture of David and his men skulking along one side of a mountain while the murderous Saul searches for him on the other (v 26). Saul is often so close and yet time and again, David gets away: a giant game of whack-a-Mole played out in the caves and crevasses of the Desert of Ziph (v 14).
It might be almost funny to read about, but it wouldn’t have been remotely amusing to live through. The Psalms give us an insight into the acute mental, emotional and physical distress David experienced during those years on the run: ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?’ (Psalm 6:2,3).
There are times when life gets stripped down to the bare essentials. Most of us do time in the wilderness; I know I have. Although we wouldn’t choose to be there, there’s a strange beauty if we look for it. There is the beauty of discovering God can be trusted (v 14). There is the beauty of faithful friendship (vs 16-18). There is the beauty of making it through another day alive against the odds (v 29). In the wilderness, we discover what really matters, and what matters endures.
What have you learned about what really matters in your wilderness times?
Heavenly Father, as I look back over my life, I now see ways in which you protected me. Prayer requests not granted, opportunities missed, your hand was in all these things. I trust you anew today.
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