1 Samuel 27 David in the Land of the Philistine

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!

Luke 18:1-8 The Persistent Widow and the Power of Prayer

This parable has always been one of my favorite parables spoken by Jesus. It is found in Luke 18:1-8 and is one of the more obscure parables. I love it so much because it tells of the power of persistence, specifically the persistence of prayer. In fact, Luke begins the narration of this parable by telling his audience that the reason Jesus told it was “to the effect that they ought always pray and not lose heart (18:2 ESV).” It is so easy for us to pray and lose faith when we don’t get immediate response, or even a response in what we might consider a “timely manner.” This widow shows us why it is so important to be persistent. Go read Luke 18:1-8!

This parable begins in v2 with an introduction of a judge “who neither feared God nor respected man.” It is so important to the rest of this parable that we understand that this man was ugly of heart; he was not righteous in any way and did not have any love or respect for anyone other than himself. Haven’t we all known people like this? Can you imagine awaiting judgment from the one that person, or trying to receive justice and compassion from that person? This is the one to whom the widow pleads her case: an unrighteous man without compassion. Verse 3 introduces the widow who kept coming to him and asking for justice against her adversary. I love this word, kept. This woman was tenacious! I just wonder the last time we had to be tenacious with God? How long do you pray before you give up on getting an answer?

Verse 4 says that the judge refused for a while, but finally he said to himself, “Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.” Again, we see the judge use the word “keeps;” in Greek this word is kopos, meaning, “a beating, an intense labor with trouble and toil.” Can’t you just see the image this definition evokes? This widow beats the judge down with her persistence, her intense labor finally wearing him down to surpass his apathy if only to get rid of her. Essentially, this woman makes herself such a nuisance that the judge has to give into her demands to be rid of the trouble she’s causing him. Do you know what this means for us? We are allowed to make a nuisance of ourselves before God in our desire for His answer! It is not a lack of faith when we repeat our prayers – Jesus told us to do it! We only turn our prayers into actions of faithlessness when God has already given us the answer and we do not believe him in his word.

The awesome part is what Jesus says in his explanation of the parable in vv7-8, “And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.” There is an obvious contrast between God and the judge: the judge in v2 is characterized as neither fearing God nor respecting man, whereas God is seen as a loving judge who hears each cry of his people. This highlights the both the depravity of the human judge in v2 and also the abounding love the Holy Father has for His children. The contrast used in this passage strengthens Jesus’ argument that if the unrighteous judge will begrudgingly, finally give justice to the widow, how much more will the Ancient of Days dispense His holy justice? Not only will God dispense perfect justice, but he answers the cries of his people swiftly and speedily.

Sometimes it doesn’t seem like God answers us swiftly – definitely not as swiftly as we want. I prayed for 6 years for God to direct me in my future path. What I know now is that those 6 years were preparing me to enter a ministry in which I was no way prepared to undertake when I first started praying. I continued to pray and all the while, God was molding me into the person I needed to be before I could even entertain the idea of a career in God’s work. That’s the beauty of God’s timing; sometimes He simply is waiting to answer you until you are finally ready and capable of understanding His answer. Take heart, Dear One; God is constantly preparing you into the one you need to become to face your future. God is breathing in your prayers like incense and they are sweet indeed (Revelation 5:8). Be persistent in your prayers and have faith that God is preparing you for the time when your answer will come ❤

Take Me to the King

I am a music girl. Oh yes. I swear the only way I get anything done around the house – this includes cooking – is if I have my music on and have a dance party in my kitchen. #truth. So today, my house was in dire need of a good cleaning, so I put on my music and jammed out while I was picking up. Then this song by Tamela Mann came on called “Take Me to the King”… Oh my. I stopped cleaning and stood there with my broom in my kitchen and soaked up these words:

Truth is I’m tired
Options are few
I’m trying to pray
But where are you?
I’m all churched out
Hurt and abused
I can’t fake
What’s left to do?
Truth is I’m weak
No strength to fight
No tears to cry
Even if I tried
But still my soul
Refuses to die
One touch will change my life
Take me to the King
I don’t have much to bring
My heart’s torn in pieces
It’s my offering
Lay me at the throne
Leave me there alone
To gaze upon Your glory
And sing to You this song
Please take me to the King

All I could think about was all the times in my life I have felt like this: when church doesn’t cut it. When the “church-talk” is too superficial and doesn’t get into the realness where it’s needed. When your friends don’t understand. When you family has no clue. When you can’t speak the words to convey the sorrow. When your soul is screaming and nothing and no one can help fix it, what do you do? I love the words to this chorus: “Lay me at the throne and just leave me there alone!” I remember sitting on my couch with a broken heart that I just could not put back together – nothing I tried for months could fix my broken soul. Until. Finally I heard some words to a Psalm – I may have remembered them from my childhood, but I think it was God whispering them into my ears knowing I would search for them. It went something like this: “Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am languishing; heal me Lord, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD?! How long? (Psalm 6:2-3).” Those words, “how long, O LORD, how long,” repeated in my head as I cried my sorrows into my pillow and waited for the God who promised to be there. I felt abandoned. But slowly God showed me that he is indeed the healer; he is the one who takes the offering of a heart torn to pieces and sews it into a new and beautiful creation. It took me laying at his throne alone – it was just Him and I, no church, no friends, no family. He put me back together in a way that I could never have done, and he gave me a new life that surpassed my wildest dreams. As I laid at His throne, He showed me his glory and replaced my broken love with one that filled me with peace and joy in all circumstances. When my father died two years ago, I knew that the throne was the only place I could go that would reach into my sorrow and mend it from the inside out. And God was there, He was with me every moment of every day, showing me the joy in each day. He did not always give me the answers I craved, but always he gave me peace and rest.

So, Beloved, when your heart is in pieces and “church” just doesn’t cut it. When what lies broken in you is more than man’s words can handle: lay yourself at the throne. Lay there all alone and gaze upon His glory, singing this song. Go to the King and offer Him the pieces. He is the only one that can revive your broken heart ❤