Victories are often followed by severe tests, and, thus, it was with David. After David killed Goliath, naturally, within a few hours’ time, the news of such had spread all across Israel. Who was David? Well, the entire nation was to soon find out. The Scripture said, “And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick.” The Scripture then said, “And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 18:6-7). It did not sit well with Saul at all. The Scripture says of him, “And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?” (1 Samuel 18:8). When Saul had stood powerless before the enemy, a shepherd boy did step forth and given him the victory. This stripling, taken to be his companion in arms, had shown so great qualities that the people reckon him at ten times Saul’s worth. Due to a total lack of spirituality, Saul could not handle this, and so the Scripture says, “And Saul eyed David from that day and forward” (1 Samuel 18:9).
David Did Not Throw Back the Spear
The situation became so bad that the Scripture says that Saul opened up himself to evil spirits, which God allowed to happen. At a particular time, with both he and David in the same room and, no doubt, others as well, Saul had a javelin in his hand. The Scripture says, “And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice” (1 Samuel 18:11). David could easily have taken the spear in his hand and could probably have nailed Saul to the wall, so to speak, with this instrument of war. More than likely, had he done so, he could have gotten by with it, especially considering the condition that Saul was in and how the people respected David. However, David did not entertain such a thought. He did not throw the spear back. Such an attitude sets him apart from most. The Scripture says about him at this time, “And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the LORD was with him." Then,the scripture says, “But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them” (1 Samuel 18:14, 16). So, now the animosity began. It would last for approximately 15 years. Time and time again, Saul would try to kill David. We see from all of this that God did not at once set David on the throne as he had done in the case of Saul. David had first to be tested and humbled and made to feel his dependence on God and the sufficiency of God to uphold him and maintain him. Hence, at the outset of his career, he was brought face to face with satan. So was it with the Blessed One of Whom David was a type. His public life began with an encounter with the devil. It was thus and by his subsequent sufferings that David was molded and trained to be the channel through which the psalms were given to the world. Concerning Saul, “Saul presents here a sad and terrible picture. One moment generous and kind, the next, murderous and cruel. One moment controlled by the Spirit of God, at least to a small degree, the next by the spirit of the demon! A useless ruined vessel, his life was wrecked because he hated David. Apart from that hatred, little is recorded to lead to the belief that his public or private conduct was unworthy of a man and a king: and men would have little known there were such depths of malignancy in his character had David never appeared. David’s person and victories made manifest Saul’s true character. So was it with man when the greater than David appeared. His apparition immediately made manifest fallen man’s true nature just as the light makes manifest the darkness.” I speak of Jesus and Israel.
David the Fugitive
Saul’s’ one ambition, it seemed, was to kill David. Strangely enough, he knew that God had anointed David to be the future king of Israel, so he was determined to thwart the will of God. It was a battle that he could not hope to win, and, actually, he destroyed himself trying. Sadly and regrettably, the first king of Israel is now in hell and will be there forever and forever because he ignored the Word of God and tried his best to stop the Word of God. David was now hunted like a wild animal, so to speak. In fact, his entire family was in danger. The Scripture says concerning this, “David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father's house heard it, they went down thither to him” (1 Samuel 22:1). This cave was a large one near the city of Adullam in Judah, which was about 12 miles southwest of Bethlehem. This would be David’s headquarters for a period of time. He would compose Psalm 57 on this occasion. Actually, many of the psalms which were composed by David and, we might add, inspired by The Holy Spirit, were written during times of great distress. As well, he composed Psalm 56 when he was in the land of the Philistines. David now, in a sense, became a magnet for all who were in distress in debt, etc. The Scripture says concerning this, “And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men” (1 Samuel 22:2). David’s position in the “cave Adullum” is a type of the small remnant who truly are called of God and who truly live for God. This is the position today in Christendom, the outward form of the testimony for God exists, but its living reality is only found among those who know, love, and serve their rejected Lord. Such persons are despised by the great and proud and, as well, by much of the religious hierarchy. However, The Lord calls them, “the excellent in the earth” and He says that in them is all His delight (Psalm 16:3).
Looking at David’s situation at present, a fugitive from Saul, and, in fact, with the king repeatedly trying to kill him, I wonder how many people would have bought stock in David’s company, so to speak. However, it doesn’t matter what the situation may look like at present. We must understand, if God has placed His hands on someone, The Lord is going to bring the situation out with the person being blessed unless that person quits, which, unfortunately, some do. So, don’t take for granted that you understand what is happening according to present situations. Sometimes those present situations are good, and sometimes they are not. As stated, at this stage of David’s life, no one would have given him any credence whatsoever of escaping the murderous hatred of Saul, but if God is on the scene, there is nothing impossible with Him.
David Spares Saul’s Life
The Scripture says, “And it came to pass, when Saul was returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi” (1 Samuel 24:1). We learn at least two great truths from this episode:
Upon finding out the information as to where David was, Saul took 3,000 of his mightiest men in the army to seek David, with every intention of killing him. At a point in time, Saul went into a cave in order to rest, with David nearby but, of course, that of which Saul was not aware. David’s men tried to get him to take matters into his hands and kill Saul. It could be done easily because the king was asleep. The men who were with David said to him, “Behold the day of which the LORD said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee” (1 Samuel 24:4). The supposed promise of this verse had actually never been given by God. Such is man, promises that are given, we lightly esteem, and promises that are not given, he invents and believes. The child of God must be careful that he does not read into the Word of God what is not there. As well, at the same time, he should not fail to claim all the promises of God. So, David went into the cave, which, evidently, Saul’s men were not guarding, not dreaming that David was nearby, and he cut off a piece of Saul’s robe. However, the Scripture says as it regards this situation, “And it came to pass afterward, that David's heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul's skirt” (1 Samuel 24:5). David, as is obvious, was close enough to God that he could be led by The Holy Spirit. While it is true that he did not pray about the situation before cutting off a piece of the robe, still, The Holy Spirit could get to him, which He did after the incident. Being led and guided by The Holy Spirit is one of the great blessings of being a child of God. Every believer should earnestly seek The Lord that we may know His divine will at all times. It is best not to make a mistake, as would be obvious, but, thankfully, if a mistake is made, as here, The Holy Spirit will then convict of the wrong committed, which gives the person direction. David made the statement that he should not lift a hand against Saul “…seeing he is the anointed of the LORD” (1 Samuel 24:6). This does not mean that Saul was anointed by The Holy Spirit, for he was not. It means that he was “anointed to be King of Israel.” Even though Saul was man’s choice, still, God had played a part in allowing this man to be king of Israel. So, if it was wrong to stretch forth one’s hand regarding harm against one like Saul, who was, in fact, demon possessed, how much more is it wrong to touch one who is truly God’s anointed? At this time, David evidently crossed over a hill opposite of the cave where Saul could not easily reach him and then called over to Saul. He, in essence, told Saul that he easily could have killed him, but he did not and, in fact, would not. David said other things as well, and, when he had finished speaking the Scripture says that “…Saul lifted up his voice, and wept” (1 Samuel 24:16). Even then, had Saul truly repented, The Lord would have helped him and blessed him, but that was not to be the case. His repentance, so to speak, didn’t last long, simply because it was not sincere to begin with. He would soon resume his murderous attack against David. It would seem so natural to the carnal mind, even though a follower of God’s anointed, for one to take advantage of this opportunity; however, God’s ways are not man’s ways. In retrospect, if David had killed Saul, it would have been a black stain on his life that would have sullied the title “a man after God’s own heart.” In David’s actions regarding Saul, we see “God’s own heart.” God is ever seeking the sinner; He is ever showing mercy; He is ever extending grace. God’s hand ever calls “Come unto Me.” So, as we view David’s actions regarding Saul, we are viewing the actions of Christ toward even the vilest sinners who seek to destroy God’s work.
David’s Lowest Point
The Scripture says, “And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand. And David arose, and he passed over with the six hundred men that were with him unto Achish, the son of Maoch, king of Gath” (1 Samuel 27:1-2). David now resorted to fear instead of faith. A short time before, he had remonstrated that The Lord had delivered him. As the pressure intensifies, it becomes increasingly more difficult to keep one’s eye on nothing but the promises of God. Fear crowded from every side, so he said, “I shall now perish.” He had forgotten that The Lord had said he would be king. Consequently, this meant that Saul could not kill him, irrespective as to what the situation may have looked like. However, before we criticize David too much, would we have done any better placed in the same position? There is no halfway house between fellowship with God and fellowship with the Philistine. If the Philistine is made a refuge, which he was, then David must dwell in the midst of them and declare himself ready to fight with them against the people of God. In this position, no believer delights to find himself. Faith never leads one on this path, only fear. So, David went over to the king of the Philistines and pledged to fight against the people of God, in effect, his own people, while in reality, he didn’t. However, what he did do was despicable to say the least.
Wrong Direction Always Leads to Wrong Action
Here was a man who would not harm Saul when given the opportunity yet would ruthlessly kill hundreds or even thousands of men and women and probably even the children among the heathen. While it is true that God had given direction that these tribes (Geshurites, Jezrites, and Amalekites) were to be destroyed, he did not thus intend on this fashion. No doubt, David justified his actions as we justify our actions in wrongdoing. Still, this did not make it right. David went to these villages containing these heathen with the Scripture saying, “And David smote the land, and left neither man nor woman alive, and took away the sheep, and the oxen, and the asses, and the camels, and the apparel, and returned, and came to Achish” (1 Samuel 27:9).
Sixteen Months Out of the Will of God
The Scripture says, “And the time that David dwelt in the country of the Philistines was a full year and four months” (1 Samuel 27:7). In other words, David was sixteen months out of the will of God. As stated, he allowed fear to drive him to this particular place and position. This was not a high point of David’s life to date. Actually, it would be the lowest and most wretched to that moment. It would seem he would profess himself ready and eager to fight against God’s beloved people and to help satan destroy them. He told many lies to Ackish, the king of the Philistines. His conduct was anything but Godly. It should always be remembered that failure, despite the grace of God, always and without exception, carries with it its own punishment, even more in the life of one who has been grandly touched by The Holy Spirit. Too often, Christendom reads only perfection into the life of God’s champion, however, they do so by ignoring the will of God. The individual is never called by God because he meets God’s requirements. Actually, he never does. Always, he is woefully unprepared, immature, and lacking in proper faith. It is the work of The Holy Spirit, among other things, to bring David and others like him to the place of maturity that God desires. It does not come easily. A great call always demands a great test. Sooner or later, there will be failure; it is inevitable. It may not be known all the time to the general Christian public, but God knows. It is a part of the growing process. Regrettably, oftentimes, one learns more from the failures than one does from the victories. However, these are expensive victories, which should be quickly added. The reason is obvious; at times, faith shines brighter during failure than during victory. The reason being the pressure applied. Faith will either rise to the occasion or else quit. True men of God may fail, but they do not quit.
A Defeat Turned into Victory
The situation at Ziklag, which was a most bitter trial, would bring David back to The Lord and effect a true restoration of his soul. Suffering and loss accompany a departure from The Lord and His ways, and there must be chastisement in order for communion to be restored. While chastisement is grievous, still, it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness (Hebrews 12:11). David and his men had made Ziklag their domicile. Actually, the city had been given to David by the Philistine king, Achish (1 Samuel 27:6). So, David housed his army of some 600 men plus in this particular area. David was now coming back to Ziklag, but the scene that would meet his eyes would not be that which he desired, to say the least. Scripture says, “So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives” (1 Samuel 30:3). The Amalekites, who had invaded the city of Ziklag, spared the lives of these women and children, not because they were merciful but because women and children were valuable as slaves. They probably intended to send the best to Egypt for sale. As David surveyed the scene, the Scripture says that he was “greatly distressed.” At this time his men “spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters...” (1 Samuel 30:6). As David stood there that day, looking at the ashes of Ziklag and knowing that his family as well as the families of all his men had been taken captive, his sorrow knew no bounds. But yet, on the other side of the proverbial coin, many believers have to be brought to a “burnt Ziklag” before finally making things right with The Lord. Even though it would look grievous, all of this was allowed by The Lord because He loved David. Concerning the reaction of David and his men, Williams says, “The first resource of nature was seen in David’s men. They murmured and grew angry. The first resource of faith appeared to David. He cast his burden upon The Lord.”
In The Lord
The Scripture says concerning this moment, “...but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God” (1 Samuel 30:6). The Hebrew literally says, “He strengthened himself in Jehovah.” He turned to The Lord because The Lord was the only One Who could help. It is the same presently. However, the modern church seems to turn to everything except The Lord. Many would ask, “How could David encourage himself in The Lord when he had been out of the will of God for some 16 months and had committed terrible sins?” That’s a good question. Blessing of blessings, The Lord does not hear and act on behalf of His people only when they are doing perfectly right. Thankfully, He is a harbor, a port, if you will, even when we have done wrong, providing we earnestly and honestly turn to Him. Self-righteousness can never understand that. Peter did wrong, but The Lord met him at the most critical time of his disobedience. To be sure, The Lord quickly forgave him as He has untold millions.
The Answer from The Lord
“And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech's son, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David” (1 Samuel 30:7). The ephod contained the Urim and the Thummim, which was designed by The Holy Spirit so that direction might be received from The Lord. In the 27th chapter, when David went over to the Philistines, there is no record that he “inquired of The Lord.” In fact, he didn’t, or else he would not have gone. However, now victory had been restored. David was once again seeking counsel from The One Who could really help him. “And David enquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he (The Lord) answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all” (1 Samuel 30:8). When it says that the Lord answered David, that is one of the most beautiful statements that could ever be made. Spiritual victory must be ours before material, financial, or physical victory can come. David now proceeded with the assurance that The Lord was with him, and that being the case, he would “recover all.” It is the will of God, the will of The Lord, that you recover all that satan has stolen from you. Now, please underscore this statement again, it is not the will of God for satan to take that which belongs to the child of God. It is far better if we use our faith and not allow the evil one to take anything from us to begin with, however, that seldom happens. But blessing of blessing, even though satan, because of our lack of faith or faith being placed in the wrong object, is allowed to take much from us, it can be retrieved. Do not let satan or self-righteous so-called Christians tell you that it can’t. The Lord does not require much of us, but He does require that our trust be in Him exclusively. That being the case, He will work mightily on our behalf, even though there have been problems in the past.
David Recovered All
The Scripture says, “And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives. And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all” (1 Samuel 30:18-19). However, The Lord did one even better. Not only did David recover all that had been stolen and taken, but he also was able to get as spoil, “all the flocks and the herds” (1 Samuel 30:19-20). In other words, The Lord not only gave David everything he had lost, but He also gave him much more besides, and you, the believer, can have the same thing if you will dare to believe God. So, now we come to the conclusion of nearly 15 years of trouble and heartache. That which The Lord had spoken through Samuel as it regarded David being the King of Israel was now about to take place. However, he would be the King of Judah alone for some 7 ½ years before he was fully chosen by all of Israel to be their king. Men are slow to bring about the will of God, and it seems they do so only when they think it’s in their best interest. To be sure, it is always and without fail our best interest to be in the will of God. That should go without saying.
Man of Sorrows, what a name
For the Son of God Who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim;
Hallelujah, what a Savior!
Bearing shame and scoffing rude
In my place, condemned He stood,
Sealed my pardon with His blood;
Hallelujah, what a Savior!
Guilty, vial, and helpless we,
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
Full atonement, can it be?
Hallelujah, what a Savior!
Lifted up was He to die,
“It is finished!” was His cry,
Now in Heaven exalted High!
Hallelujah, what a Savior!
When He comes, our Glorious King
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew this song we’ll sing,
Hallelujah, what a Savior!
David Chapter 4