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Reflections on 1Sam 27

01/25/2011

Desperate men do desperate things. I can’t help but feel David’s desperation as he continues to flee from a power crazed king. Saul has sought his life in the Negev, in the caves, in En Gedi. David had dodged spears, fled from informants, found amnesty with his enemies in order to protect himself, and those who followed him, from the wrath of Saul. He has many sleepless nights, many exhausting days, and many tumultuous encounters. All of these began to weigh down the future King. Though his heart for the Lord was sound and his faith strong, he became fatigued. He was just step ahead of the king and was beginning to loose his hope. His continual fear of the wrath of the king and his convictions of honoring Saul while he was on the throne, forced David to make a very desperate decision; He found safety among his enemies.

Now staying with the Philistines he found himself playing the part of the disgruntled ex-patriot. His perceived allegiance had shifted to the Philistines, the same people whom he used to hunt, now became his perceived allies. Surrounded on all sides by previous enemies became his only perceivable option. He would rather risk his life surrounded by the enemies of God than to continue to put himself in harms way at the hand of the “Lords Anointed”.

Desperate men do desperate things. I wonder if David would have made the same decision if he was well rested, well fed, and at peace? I am curious if the future King would have aligned himself with his enemies if he was in a better place? He found himself on the edge of sanity with nowhere else to turn, so he chose out of desperation.

Have you ever found yourself in desperation? There are times where life seems to toss us around and shake us loose from reason. Circumstances surround us and we find our selves in desperate times making desperate decisions. In desperation we consider options that would otherwise be unthinkable. We can even entertain decisions that, in a more peaceful time, would have never even crossed our radar.

I think the caution is to recognize that when in continual duress we don’t always think straight. We can lead ourselves, and those who follow us, into terrible situations because of our desperation. So what do we do when we are faced to face with these moments?

  • Seek counsel :: It’s critical to recognize that we are not meant to do life alone. We need people in our lives who can speak truth to us, point out blind spots, and correct us in our desperation. These trusted friends can help us see more clearly and keep us from falling into the pitfalls of living in isolation.
  • Practice Better Self-Leadership :: There were many factors that led David to make the decisions that he made, and it would certainly not be my intent to pass judgment on his ability to lead. However, I can’t help but think that David would have thought differently had he been able to create a more sustainable pace for himself. This may not have been an option considering the external factors that were moving him, but it may have been a possibility for him to create distance from Saul that didn’t include alignment with his enemies.
  • Recognize that decisions made in desperation may have catastrophic consequences :: David finds himself just two chapters later in battle array heading to the battlefield against his very own people. If it wasn’t for the providence of God awakening a suspicion in the hearts and minds of the Philistine generals, David would have put himself, and his men, in a very precarious position. They would either have been forced to raise the sword against the nation of Israel, or reveal their treachery to the Philistine army. Either way, they would have been in a very difficult situation.
  • Learn to trust :: at the end of 1Sam 26 it seems that Saul has called off the proverbial dogs. He had decided to return home and end his tireless search for David. Though his track record of changing his mind towards David is as fickle as a High School dating relationship, it seems that David should have trusted the Lord. David was the Lords anointed King. He was the heir to the throne. He was the future of the nation. God would have protected David from Saul, the Philistines, and any other threat to the king. Yet, in his time of difficulty his faith falters. He looks at external signs and circumstances rather than believing by faith in the promises of God regardless of the external indicators. Much like Saul, David leans on his flesh. Though different in so many ways, the two kings share this fatal flaw. Both men, when faced with difficulty, have a propensity to focus on the flesh. Saul offers his own sacrifice despite Samuels warnings, and consults witches to craft a battle plan rather than seeking God. David will align himself with the philistines and enjoy a peep show across the Kidron Valley at Bathsheeba rather than continue in faithfulness to the Lord as  King should.

At the end of the day, the prayer is simply that God would make us leaders who are not slack in the day of distress, but instead, when difficulty comes, are those who would sink deeply into the Lord and find shelter in Him. That we might grow strong in faith as the storms of life snuff out the light, and that our hearts will grow stronger knowing that the Lord is our ever present help in a time of need.

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