I have been reading the book of 1 Samuel. King Saul was jealous of David and wanted to kill him. David flourished in all that he did, the Lord’s favour was upon him. The latter half of this book details David fleeing from King Saul, David and his men hiding out moving from place to place so Saul and his men cannot get to them. During David’s time in the wilderness he did not make it all about him but surrendered to God’s plans, purposes and timing.
God’s divine protection in your wilderness moments
We read of David and his 600 men hiding from Saul (1 Samuel 23:13), now that is no small number. Hiding a handful of men is easier to visualise but to keep 600 men out of the clutches of Saul is no easy task. Saul pursues them with an army of 3000 men (1 Samuel 24:2, 26:2), five times that of David’s men, but God was on their side.
In chapters 23 and 26 alone, we see three instances of divine protection
1 Samuel 23: 14b “Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands.”
1 Samuel 23:26-28 “Saul was going along one side of the mountain, and David and his men were going 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, a messenger came to Saul and said, ‘Come quickly! the Philistines are raiding the land.’ Then Saul broke off his pursuit of David and went to meet the Philistines.”
1 Samuel 26:12 “David took the spear and water jug near Saul’s head, and they left (David and Abishai). No one saw or knew about it, nor did anyone wake up (Saul was sleeping surrounded by his men). They were all sleeping, because the Lord had put them into a deep sleep.”
David’s time in the wilderness was purposed by God. It helped to strengthen his faith and trust and to grow in his dependence on God. Even though David had to go through that time before he became King, we see God’s divine protection and provision during those wilderness moments.
For us: Let us take encouragement from the fact that when we are in our wilderness moments and life feels hard and exhausting, when we feel God is quiet and that He seems to be overlooking our struggle, HE is always with us, His hand is upon us and He is looking out for us.
Within God’s will and timing
In chapters 24 and 26, we read that David is presented with two opportunities to kill Saul, but he chooses to spare Saul’s life.
David says “I will not lift my hand on my master because he is the Lord’s anointed” (1 Samuel 24:10)
In both instances, David was in a position to use those opportunities for pure personal gain, killing Saul, avenging the wrong done to him and assuming his role as king.
Both of those times we see David not let his pride or anger get the better of him. He truly submits and surrenders his situation to the Lord.
David was on the run, always looking over his shoulder and when we read the Psalms, we see his repeated cries to God for protection, strength and deliverance from all this and can only imagine the emotional toll this took on him. And yet, he did not use those opportunities to take matters in his own hands. His obedience and surrender to God are evident.
David chose not to act outside of God’s purposed timing and will.
In 1 Samuel 26: 10 David says “The Lord himself will strike him; either his time will come and he will die or he will go into battle and perish.”
For us: May we always strive to act in honour, service and obedience to the Lord, however easy or alluring the other path may seem. May pride, anger, personal gain or satisfaction not take precedence over that of God’s will.
What are we influenced by?
At the first opportunity that David had to kill Saul, we read in 1 Samuel 24: 3-4 that Saul was in a cave by himself and David and his men were hiding far back inside. David’s men say “This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.”
Similarly, the second time we read in 1 Samuel 26, Saul was lying inside his camp with his army encamped around him. David and Abishai sneak into the camp, reach a sleeping Saul and Abishai says “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hands, now let me pin him twice with one thrust of my spear.”
There is no previous record of any divine revelation being alluded in both instances. Maybe it was just their conviction that this was the time God was going to set David on the throne. Both convincing statements that could have made David feel the moment was called for a step towards freedom from being on the run and stepping into his calling to be king.
But how did David choose to receive those words? What was David influenced by?
Was he influenced to act by his men, his situation, his frustration or his anger? Or were his actions underlined with discernment, obedience and respect for God.
In contrast What influenced King Saul?
Saul’s attitudes and actions toward David were strongly influenced by his anger, jealousy and other people (1Samuel 24:9; 26:19). Even when he has a moment of repentance and confesses that his behaviour has been unwise and ungodly and vouched to not kill David, his words ring hollow. Saul was driven to continue pursuing killing David.
When we open ourselves to harbour jealousy, anger, unforgiveness or surrender self-control, it allows Satan to get a foothold to spur us to act in a manner that is displeasing to God.
For us: This should prompt us to think about what influences us? Are we motivated by our emotions, pride, personal gain, fame, worldly acceptance or the desire to have a heart that is devoted and surrendered to God?
David’s actions and approach to his circumstances remind us that it was not all about him but more about God’s plans and purposes for Him.
May we acknowledge God truly as Lord over our life, not only when things are going well but through the tough times too. God is with us through it all. May we surrender our situations to God and choose not to act outside of His timing and will. And may our actions and decisions be motivated only by that which is pleasing and right in the eyes of God.