Tuesday, March 13, 2018

King David Series: David on the Run

For approximately the next ten years, David flees for his life from the mad man, Saul, who is hellbent on killing David.

David heads for Nob, where he meets a priest, Ahimelech. The priest provides food for a starving David, and also presents him with Goliath's sword.

The priest asks why David is alone and David answers:

"The king sent me on a mission and said to me, 'No one is to know anything about the  mission I am sending you on.' As for my men, I have told them to meet me at a certain place. Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever you can find." -- 1 Samuel 21:2-3

Did David deceive Ahimelech? Consider this: (1) David's like was on the line, and he may have felt justified in resorting to deception to save his life. (2) David may have been trying to protect Ahimelech from any accusation of involvement in David's escape from Saul. David's desire to preserve human life (that of another, not his own) took precedence over telling the truth.

Unfortunately, one of Saul's servants, Doeg, observe the actions of David. David's lie displays the shaken core of his faith. He does not even trust the representatives of God Himself to protect him from the enemy. Perhaps he is trying to protect the priests from Saul's wrath. Whatever the reason, his distrust and deception deny God the opportunity to revive David and comfort his spirit.

Ahimelech senses something is wrong with David and gives him the opportunity to be open, however, David chooses to protect himself instead. This deception will carry a heavy price.

David is lonely and afraid. It clouds his judgement and limits his perceived choices.

David fears for his life as Saul pursues him. He can no longer see God for all the venom spewing from Saul.

David faces another choice. He can run straight to God for comfort and peace, but instead, he chooses to run to the Philistines for help. The citizens of Gath, however, recognize David. He's carrying Goliath's sword! David must escape once again, this time, from Achish, the king of Gath. David had thought that Gath would be the last place Saul would look for him.

Instead of finding a place of solace and safety, David's heart is overwhelmed with even greater fear. He acts like a madman, with saliva running down his face, humiliated and run out of town. David doesn't realize that no matter how discouraged we are, no matter how black the night, no matter how the enemy hounds us, we will not find refuge in the world.

At this time, David writes Psalm 34. He learns once again to depend on God, only after everything he once held dear, and everyone he once turned to is gone. With nothing and no one; no where to turn, David turns to God.

In Psalm 34, there are promises of answers, radiance, safety, delivery, blessings, safety, protection and redemption.

"In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith -- of greater worth than fold, which perishes even though refined by fire -- may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." -- 1 Peter 1:6-7

What good can come from the trials we suffer? So that we can discover our own weaknesses and God's infinite strength. This was David's revelation.

While David suffers at the hands of Saul, God uses this time to transform David from a shepherd of sheep into a shepherd of men.

David gathers a rather unusual growing force.

"All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around his, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him." -- 1 Samuel 22:2

While fleeing King Saul, David became an outlaw. Others in similar straights were naturally attracted to him. He and his cause became a rallying point for others who felt oppressed. Most were probably men embittered against the system and opposed to the current leadership.

David's next choice of refuge become the caves of Adullam and Mizpah. The cave was named for the city of Adullam (meaning 'retreat' or 'refuge.') Adullam was a frontier town between Israel and Philistine, about 12 miles southwest of Bethlehem. The region is one of steep ravines and numerous averse. David's headquarters were likely in one large cave while the surrounding caves provided abundant shelter for hundreds of men.

David feared for his parents life while on the run from Saul. He went to Mizpah to speak to the king of Moab.

"Would you let my father and mother come and stay with you until I learn what God will do for me? So he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him as long as David was in the stronghold." -- 1 Samuel 22: 3-4

Saul retaliated against Ahimelech and the priests of Nob when he heard from his servant Doeg, the Edomite who was there when David sought respite. To kill the priests of the Lord went beyond dealing with David; it constituted a declaration of war against God himself. Even Saul's officials - by no means highly sensitive men - understood the danger and the depravity of such action. God's anointed priests were not to be touched. Saul's slaughter was horrifying.

"He also put to the sword Nob, the town of the priests, with its men and women, its children and infants, and its cattle, donkeys and sheep." -- 1 Samuel 22:19

David naturally felt responsible for the massacre, but it was the deed of Saul and Doeg. When Ahimelech failed to inform Saul of David's activities, Saul perceived him as a co-conspirator in rebellion. The slaughter of the priests at Nob is  fulfillment of the curse on the house of Eli. (1 Samuel 2:27-36)

While on the run from Saul, David learned to trust the Lord. If trials produce trust, then those trials serve a higher purpose. David's words in Psalm 18:2 testify to his trust:

"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge."

David's trust was not misplaced, for Saul was forced to call off his search for David to attend to matters of national security. (1 Samuel 23:27-28)

Next in the King David Series: David Spares Saul's Life.