Hopeless. Paranoid. Faithless. Liar. Schemer. Murderer.
I would go so far as to say that each of these words describe David in 1 Samuel 27. He has been on the run from King Saul for a very long time and just spared Saul’s life for the second time in chapter 26. However, the very first verse of chapter 27 tells of David’s innermost thoughts, saying ” I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape to the land of the Philistines (v1).” David is clearly worn down, he is tired of running, he is paranoid about everyone being a spy for Saul, and has lost all hope for his future. In his hopelessness, he turns to the Philistines – one of Israel’s most hated enemies – for sanctuary. He runs to the enemy of God’s people because he was scared. He was so run down from running that he lost faith in God’s promise over his life. He was scared that God wouldn’t deliver. So he ran and took sanctuary under an enemy.
My heart breaks for all the times we do just as David; we lose sight of the future God has spoken over us and lose hope that our lives will ever be different then they are in that moment. Have you ever had a time in your life when you feel like the trials will never end? When God has promised you something different but it never seems to change? I know so many times I was striving towards God only to be derailed and lose hope in the future – I ran back to take shelter under something familiar, to an old relationship that God purposefully brought me out of, or an old practice from which God had freed me. Aren’t we so quick to lose faith? Don’t we allow our problems to become so big that they eclipse the truth of God’s Word? Like David, we allow our problems to so fill our vision that we can no longer see the God that is so much bigger. We panic and run. Praise God that he is long-suffering and compassionate (Exodus 34:6)!
Not surprisingly, we see David start to act in a way that is far different than ever before. He is granted some land by the king of Philistine in Ziklag (what a name, right?!) and he went and lived there with his 600 men for one year and four months (27:6-7). Verse 8 begins to unravel a tale that just hurts my heart. David becomes a murderer and thief, paranoid to the point of leaving no man, woman, or child alive from Shur to the land of Egypt (check out the map. It’s a lot of land.). Verse 9 says that David “would strike the land and would leave neither man nor woman alive, but would take away the sheep, the oxen, the donkeys, the camels, and the garments, and come back to Achish (the king of the Philistines).” Achish would then ask David who he raided that day and David would tell him – except David would change the location of the raid. Instead of telling Achish that he was raiding neighboring villages, he told them he was raiding the Israelites! Then verse 11 lets us know that it is because of these lies that David left no witnesses – he didn’t want anyone left to tell Achish the truth of the raids. All the while Achish is plotting on keeping David as a “servant” because he has “made himself an utter stench to his people Israel.” Little did he know… And people think the Bible is boring 😛
Flip the switch for a moment and take a look at Psalm 10 with me. Psalm 10 was written while David was in Philistine and is titled, “Why do you hide yourself?” Can’t you just imagine the distance he felt from God at this point?! God doesn’t let us know how he felt about this ugliness David allowed into his life, but you can be sure he had an opinion. And I can only imagine it was not an opinion of approval. However, don’t you think even in God’s disapproval, he had compassion? Don’t you think God looks upon us in our moments of hopelessness and feels our hearts break, knows our desperation and panic and understands our choices – even though they are the completely wrong ones? I can just imagine him screaming at David, “Come back! Come back, David!! I promise, it’s just a little while longer. I promise I am faithful!” I look back at these times in my life and imagine God saying the same to me, “Audrey, love, come back. It’s just for a little while longer.” I imagine he might be saying the same to you, ” Beloved, come back. It will only last a little while longer.”
But when we lose hope in God’s promises, we often turn to the things of the past or where we feel comfortable. We often put distance between ourselves and God because we are scared that he won’t or can’t deliver. We turn from our paths because the road has become too hard to bear without the hope or belief in God’s faithfulness, just like David. The key to not losing hope (as cliché as it might seem) is the promises found in the Word. We are fickle beings – our emotions run away with us. We allow ourselves to believe the lies told by our emotions instead of resting in the truth of the Bible. We feel let down, dejected, refused, abandoned, worthless, and allow them to swallow us instead of taking up the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God, our ONLY offensive weapon in the spiritual realm) and fighting off every one of those defeating thoughts and emotions (Ephesians 6:17). We HAVE to cling to the promises of God; when what we feel is adverse to the promise of God’s truth, we have to immerse ourselves in His Word and flood our mind with God’s promises to us: that we are alive, saved, and BLESSED, made for a future planned by God himself (Ephesians 2). Don’t be like David who lost himself in a sea of hopelessness; cling to God and the promises he has spoken over you. It is in the times of your darkest that God will shine the brightest. Reach for him and watch him shine!