Tag Archives: Philistines

Purpose in the Pain

Purpose in the Pain (CaD 1 Sam 27) Wayfarer

But David thought to himself, “One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines.
1 Samuel 27:1

Yesterday Wendy and I, along with our backyard neighbors, hosted a backyard cookout for over one hundred people from our local gathering of Jesus’ followers. It was awesome. For the record, I still smell like a charcoal grill.

One of the many interesting conversations I had was about how God orchestrates His purposes for us even through seemingly “bad” times. I had a couple of people relate to me about how they could look back and see how God was using difficult stretches of their life journeys to orchestrate positive outcomes and divine purpose even though it wasn’t obvious at the moment.

In today’s chapter, David finally realizes that no matter what promise Saul makes, and no matter what oath he swears, Saul will never stop trying to kill him. David determines that his best option is to live among his nation’s enemy, the Philistines. David knew that Saul could not risk the diplomatic crisis of invading Philistine territory looking for David. So, David goes to Achish, King of the Philistines, and secures sanctuary for himself and his men.

The author of 1 Samuel slips in two important facts regarding the continuing development of David’s leadership and preparation for the throne in the year and four months that David lived among his enemies.

First, the author notes that David’s band of outcasts, misfits, and mercenaries is at 600. That two hundred more men that David started out with back in chapter 22. His private army is growing as David continues to develop his leadership skills, and these men are loyal to David, not to a particular nation. This will serve David well when he eventually ascends to the throne. He has a highly trained and experienced army who are fiercely loyal to him and not just tribal conscripts who will follow whoever happens to be sitting on the throne.

The second fact is easy to miss for contemporary readers. While living in Philistine territory, David and his men raid towns and people groups who were supposed to have been conquered during the conquest of the Promised Land but were never successfully defeated. For the author’s Hebrew audience, this is significant. David is finishing the job given to Joshua that the Hebrew tribes could not, or would not, finish after Joshua died. In their eyes, this makes David a successor to their hero Joshua, marking David once again as God’s man for the job of leading the nation.

In the quiet this morning, these observations reminded me of my conversations from yesterday afternoon. When David flees Saul and is forced to live among his enemies, I doubt he saw what God was doing in the grand scheme. In fact, I think it likely that David only felt like his prophesied ascension to the throne was only getting further and further away from becoming a reality.

As I enter into another day, and a new work week, I’m reminded of a lyric from Psalm 112, which may have even been penned by David himself:

“Even in darkness light dawns for the upright.”

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

Benched

David Robinson of the US Olympic men's basketb...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So Achish called David and said to him, “As surely as the Lord lives, you have been reliable, and I would be pleased to have you serve with me in the army. From the day you came to me until today, I have found no fault in you, but the rulers don’t approve of you. Now turn back and go in peace; do nothing to displease the Philistine rulers.”
1 Samuel 29:6-7 (NIV)

It’s one thing to ride the bench when you know you’re not a star player. It’s another thing to ride the bench when you know you’re one of the best players on the team, or even the league MVP. The other day I used professional athletes in free agency as a word picture for David’s move to serve the rival Philistine king, Achish. The word picture remains apt in today’s chapter. It is a new season, and for the first time David is going to face King Saul and his men. But, in an unexpected move David and his men get benched by their manager, Achish. They don’t even get to suit up and watch from the sidelines. They are sent back to the team’s training facility.

Having watched sports my whole life, I’ve come to realize that coaches and managers bench players for different reasons. Sometimes a player needs a day off. Other times a player may be benched as a precaution against debilitating injury. In some cases, a player needs to be benched when they’ve forgotten that there is no “i” in team. Talented competitors may have a hard time seeing the big picture of career or season when they find themselves in the heat of a single rivalry game.

We have seen that David has spent years being groomed for leadership through difficult circumstances. Being benched by Achish is just another lesson in time that will profit him as king, but it doesn’t make it easy for the talented warrior in the moment. My experience is that there is an ebb and flow to God’s work through us as we progress through our life journey. We don’t set records every game, nor are we in a position to win with a dramatic hail mary every week. Sometimes God puts the ball in our hands because we’re uniquely suited for a particular play or circumstance. Other times we’re asked to play a supporting role on the field. Sometimes we’re told to ride the bench for a game, or for a season.

Today, I am reminded that embracing God’s timing includes an acceptance that there are times we may be a critical part of a particular play in life, and there are times we are asked to ride the bench. Being on God’s team requires acceptance of the fact that it’s not about me.

Spiritual Arteriosclerosis

Schematic of a transplanted heart with native ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh did? When Israel’s god dealt harshly with them, did they not send the Israelites out so they could go on their way? 1 Samuel 6:6 (NLT)

The events described in the past few chapters occurred some 400 years after the Israelites were delivered from their captivity in Egypt. How fascinating that the events of the Exodus were well known to Israel’s neighbors hundreds of years later. Not only were they aware that the events happened, but they knew the story of the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart. The pagan priests of the Philistines knew the story, and believed the story, well enough to warn their own leaders against making Pharaoh’s mistake.

There is a consistent theme in God’s Message of people being afflicted with spiritual arteriosclerosis, the hardening of the arteries. Pharaoh had it. The Philistines warned against it. Solomon warned of it’s consequences in his proverbs. Belshazzar was afflicted with it in Daniel’s day. The prophet Zechariah warned the people of Israel against the condition.  Jesus said that many did not understand His parables because of the spiritual hardness of their hearts and later chastised many in the throng of those who followed him because of the condition. Paul warned in his letter to the Jesus followers in Ephesus that the condition leads to darkened understanding and continued separation from God.

Thank God there is a cure. The prophet Ezekiel wrote that God desires to perform a spiritual heart transplant on each of us. When we enter into a relationship with Jesus and receive Holy Spirit into our hearts He takes away our “heart of stone” and gives us “a heart of flesh.” It’s actually a simple procedure. Better yet, it’s totally free to us because God paid for the operation Himself. All you have to do is agree to it.

Our culture is well aware of the risks of heart disease and cardiac health. Today, I’m thinking both about the condition of my physical heart, but also my spiritual one. As long as I sojourn in this life, I want my spiritual heart free of the plaque that builds up over time and slowly reduced the life flowing in me. Even as my body ages and fails, I want my spiritual heart pumping life in and through me.