Beware of Inner Obstacles
Lord, help me to deal with my problems in such a way as to bring honor, not shame, upon You.
Read 1 Samuel 27:1–12
But David thought to himself, “One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will give up searching for me anywhere in Israel, and I will slip out of his hand.”
2 So David and the six hundred men with him left and went over to Achish son of Maok king of Gath. 3 David and his men settled in Gath with Achish. Each man had his family with him, and David had his two wives: Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail of Carmel, the widow of Nabal. 4 When Saul was told that David had fled to Gath, he no longer searched for him.
5 Then David said to Achish, “If I have found favor in your eyes, let a place be assigned to me in one of the country towns, that I may live there. Why should your servant live in the royal city with you?”
6 So on that day Achish gave him Ziklag, and it has belonged to the kings of Judah ever since. 7 David lived in Philistine territory a year and four months.
8 Now David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Girzites and the Amalekites. (From ancient times these peoples had lived in the land extending to Shur and Egypt.) 9 Whenever David attacked an area, he did not leave a man or woman alive, but took sheep and cattle, donkeys and camels, and clothes. Then he returned to Achish.
10 When Achish asked, “Where did you go raiding today?” David would say, “Against the Negev of Judah” or “Against the Negev of Jerahmeel” or “Against the Negev of the Kenites.” 11 He did not leave a man or woman alive to be brought to Gath, for he thought, “They might inform on us and say, ‘This is what David did.’” And such was his practice as long as he lived in Philistine territory. 12 Achish trusted David and said to himself, “He has become so obnoxious to his people, the Israelites, that he will be my servant for life.”
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.
Do we live by “practical atheism”?
Until now, David has been portrayed as an exemplary hero—who bravely kills a lion, a bear, the giant Goliath, plus tens of thousands of Philistines, and who graciously spares Nabal’s life and Saul’s life both in the cave and in the camp. After a long time of breathless flight and extreme circumstances, David’s spirit appears worn out. God seems to be completely silent. David says to himself, “One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will give up searching for me anywhere in Israel, and I will slip out of his hand” (1).
This verse gives us an insight into David’s problems. Not long ago, he told Saul, “As surely as I valued your life today, so may the Lord value my life and deliver me from all trouble” (1 Sam. 26:24). Now God seems to be outside David’s radar. He drifts away from God and forgets about God’s promise that he would be the future king, meaning that God will certainly deliver him from Saul’s pursuit. Obviously, David’s faith has been downgraded to fear and doubt. Instead of seeking refuge in God, he sees fleeing to Philistia as the best way of saving his own life. While serving King Achish of Gath, who fights against the Israelites and blasphemes God, David appears to be ruthless, calculating and virtually apostate in the rest of the chapter.
Just as Abraham lied, Noah got drunk, and Moses lost his temper and committed murder, David is no paragon here. The narrative does not shy away from this reality. After all, David is just as human as we are. God blesses him despite his doubt, fear, brutality and fraud. If God can use David, he can use us too, despite our weaknesses.
Reflect on the imperative to hold our leaders accountable but also to forgive their faults, loving them as our brothers and sisters.
Lord, when my pursuers persist in their vengeful desires upon me, be mindful of Your promise in Psalm 41:2: “You will not deliver me over to the will of my enemies.”