In this message. we find David on the run as Saul seeks to end his life. From this period in David’s life, we learn about the importance trusting God when we find ourselves in a place, we didn’t choose. David had become a great military general. As a result of his military successes, he received the praise of the people. Now that was fine until David began receiving more praise than King Saul (1 Samuel 18:8-9). Saul was jealous, and not long thereafter, decided to end David’s life because he saw David as a potential threat to the throne. David learned of Saul’s murderous plans and fled into the wilderness, where he spent the next ten years of his life. The wilderness near Engedi is a very dry region with little food and water. It was not a place that David wanted to live in, and yet he couldn’t leave because he was on the run. However, David did have the freedom to choose how he would respond to others while in the wilderness. Let’s look at three examples.
Responding to the Weak In 1 Samuel 22:2, we find David responding to “the weak” in a place called the cave of Adullam. David was with 400 disgruntled, poor men who wanted him to lead them. As if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, a tragedy comes along. We read about it in 1 Samuel chapter 30. While David and his men were out on a mission, the Amalekites came and destroyed their camp. When David and his men returned, they discovered that their possessions had been stolen, their wives and children kidnapped. The initial response of those whom David was leading was a bad response. Rather than direct their anger towards the Amalekites, they directed it towards David. They wanted to kill him. There was no one to encourage him, so David strengthened himself in the Lord (1 Samuel 30:6). David made a wise choice—he strengthened himself in the Lord and then he sought out his pastor for counsel, a man named Abiathar. He suggested that they pray together and seek God’s guidance. And that’s exactly what they did! By making that good choice, David discovered that God had a plan for restoration and recovery. And so he rallied his men to go on a rescue mission. They defeated the Amalekites and rescued their wives and children and they retrieved the possessions that had been stolen from them. In addition, the Amalekites had conquered other people and had taken the spoils. David and his men brought all of that back to their camp at the Brook of Besor. And when they got back, David’s men wanted to keep the other people’s possessions. But David put his foot down as a leader and said, “That’s not right. We will not only return their families, we will also return their possessions. Furthermore, they will get a rightful share of all of the spoils.” While going through his own wilderness experience, David cared about those who had less than he did. There is a tendency when we get in the wilderness to become self-centered, to throw a pity party for ourselves. And yet David shows us how to respond to the weak. We respond to the weak with generosity.
Responding to a Fool In 1 Samuel chapter 25, David relates to a fool. It is the story of Nabal and Abigail, his wife. They were part of a Bedouin group in the wilderness to whom David and his men provided protection. During the annual sheep-shearing festival, David and sent his men who had been providing protection to receive whatever Nabal and Abigail wanted to provide. Nabal was rich, rude, and arrogant, and when David’s men came making their request, Nabal said to them, “How dare you expect anything from us?” and sent David’s men away. When the message got back to David, he became furious and decided to go ride down the hill and wipe everyone out. Abigail heard what was about to happen, gathered gifts of food and wine, and hurried off to intercept David and his men. Abigail approached David with the gifts and accepted responsibility for her husband’s foolish actions herself. She reasoned with David: “Yes, my husband was a fool, but we don’t need two fools.” Abigail convinced David to turn around and no blood was shed that day. Abigail was a peacemaker. Someone who was willing to step in and speak words of wisdom and restraint and love. The Bible says, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” Abigail challenged David that day to be the best version of himself. She asked David to forgive the fool. And he did.
Responding to a Wicked Person The third kind of person that David encountered is found in 1 Samuel chapter 24. Here, David confronts a wicked person. As result of his irrational jealousy, Saul wanted to kill David. David and his men found themselves hiding in a cave near Engedi. Saul decided to enter one of these caves to find some relief from the heat and the sun. He just happened to choose the cave where David and his men are hiding. About that time, Saul had to use the bathroom. He discarded his robe and David literally caught him with his pants down. His men encouraged David to take the opportunity to kill Saul. But David chose not to do that. Rather, he sneaked up and cut off the edge of Saul’s robe. Saul finished his business and went back into the valley. David came out of the cave and held up the fabric he has just cut off. He yelled out, “Why do you listen to the people who say I am trying to harm you? …For the Lord placed you at my mercy back there in the cave,” (1 Samuel 24:9-10). One of the reasons Saul was after David is because he was listening to people who were the opposite of peacemakers. They were saying, “David is out to get you. You need to get David before he gets you.” But by his actions, David dispelled those lies. David was willing to wait on God and not take vengeance into his own hands. Many times, we are tempted, especially in our wilderness times, to take things into our own hands, to mete out our own justice. But know this. When you do that, you are raising your hand against someone that God has placed in a position of authority over you. And unless they are asking you to do something that directly goes against something the Bible says you are to do or are not to do, then you are to live under their authority. And God will redeem that somehow—even though you don’t like it. You are not to return evil for evil but to give a blessing instead.
- To the weak, choose to be generous.
- To the fool, choose to forgive.
- To the wicked, choose to wait on God for justice. David did not choose to be in the wilderness. But he did have a choice about how he would respond to those whom he would encounter while there.
How will you respond?
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
Choose not to return evil for evil; instead give a blessing:
- To the weak, choose to be generous.
- To the fool, choose to forgive.
- To the wicked, choose to wait on the Lord to accomplish justice.
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)