Every person experiences life’s unfairness. Every person goes through periods of suffering. And in every person’s life, are moments where people in our circle of relationship treat us with injustice and unfairness. Today I want to visit about David and King Saul.
Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be running.
In today’s story, King Saul is the lion and David is the gazelle. David spends 10 years of his life on the run in danger from Saul. David is the prey, and King Saul is the predator. How do we deal in life with people who mistreat us? How do we deal with life when all of it feels unfair? I think David teaches us some important lessons of faith. Let’s remember a little biblical history.
King Saul was anointed by Samuel to be the first king of God’s people. He had a prophetic gift. He had leadership qualities. He was tall and a victorious warrior. He was the type of individual that dripped with potential, and every man would want his daughter to marry a man like Saul. But, despite all his good qualities, King Saul, at key moments, lived in disobedience to God without remorse. None of us are perfect but when we fall or when we fail, we repent of our wrong. We regret what we have done. Not King Saul. He was defiant in his disobedience. So God said, “I have taken your kingdom, Saul, and gave it to another. In another place in God’s Word it says, “The Spirit of God left Saul, and he knew it not.”
So Samuel, instructed by God, anointed David to be the next king. It’s a fascinating story in I Samuel 16 where God reminds Samuel, human beings look at the outward appearance, but God sees the heart. It says in the book of Acts that God found in David a man who sought His heart. I wish to be that man in my faith life.
The proof of God’s anointing with the Spirit’s power in David’s life was played out when he was victorious over the giant Philistine, Goliath. Saul saw in David someone he could use for tremendous advantage, so David became a tremendously victorious soldier in Saul’s army, and he became wildly popular with the people. That led to this song of the women,
“Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands.”
In that moment, the heart of King Saul was revealed. Saul was jealous, angry, and displeased. From that day on, Saul’s heart turned against David. Saul was troubled and obsessively paranoid, insecure. He found it difficult to trust anyone and thought everyone was against him. He was the victim, and he blamed others for his failures. He would attack anyone who he thought was a threat to his power or made him look bad. He was an emotionally unbalanced narcissist, and he thought the kingdom was his to possess, not God’s.
On one occasion, Saul promised his daughter in marriage to David but gave her to another. Then Saul learned that his other daughter Michal loved David. Perfect! King Saul thought. I’m going to require a dowry of David of proof of a hundred Philistines’ lives. He’ll either die in battle or become the loathed, hated target of the Philistines. David continued to have tremendous military success and raised the dowry by killing two hundred Philistines. That led up to that day where Saul was so upset emotionally, in a reactive moment he hurled the spear trying to pin David’s body to the wall as he played the harp.
Do you know anyone in your life who is the equivalent of a spear thrower like King Saul? Someone who is toxic, self absorbed, and committed to your destruction? Someone who wants to dangerously hurt you in order to promote themselves? Someone who is willing to damage, hurt, criticize or destroy you? Someone who is truly a threat your well-being? With words and actions, they try to bring you down. They are spear throwers. Maybe you work for them. Maybe when you married your dear spouse, you discovered the extended family is filled with dysfunction and chaos – a group of spear throwers – who make your life miserable. Maybe you live with someone with some form of addiction or someone who cycles with anger issues.
How do you deal with spear throwers? How do you deal with difficult people? Eventually King Saul sicced the whole Israeli army on David, and he spent ten years hiding in the wilderness and in caves. David was literally a hunted man on the run. What does he do in response? Here is where we learn important lessons for our faith journey.
First, in the midst of his adversity and suffering, David cries out to God. Psalm 59 says, “Deliver me from my enemies, O God. They lie in ambush for my life. They try to attack me.” In Psalm 143 David wrote, “My enemy persecutes me and tries to crush my life, and I live in darkness.” In his emotional terror and pain, David cried out to God.
Second, David did not retaliate. He did not return evil for evil. He did not seek revenge. The Bible tells us David could’ve killed King Saul two different times, but he said, “I will not raise my hand against the Lord’s anointed.”
Third (this is an important one), David prays himself through his sense of helplessness into a position of confident hope. Let me say that again. David prays himself through his sense of helplessness into a position of confident hope.
When you are struggling in emotional pain, do you pray your self through that sense of powerlessness?
Fourth, even in his suffering David praised God. Again we read in Psalm 59: “I will sing of your strength. I will joyfully sing of your loving kindness in the morning. You are my stronghold, my refuge in my distress.”
Fifth, David lived into his anointing. His anointing was not just proven in the slaying of giants with raw power. Another proof of the Spirit’s touch on David’s life was that he lived with gentleness and self-control.
Sixth, David asked God for mercy. He didn’t come to God and say, Lord I’ve been such a good boy, I deserve it. He always came to God with humility begging for God’s mercy.
Seventh, David waited for the Lord to deliver him. The Bible says David wrote, “Wait for the Lord. Be strong. Let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for the Lord.” For ten years, he lived like a wild animal in caves but his heart was waiting expectantly for God to deliver and save and rescue him.
So during this whole period, what is God up to in shaping the inner heart of David? And why did Saul rule so long? Why would God allow Saul to be in power for so long?
Gene Edwards, in his book The Tale of Three Kings writes this, “God sometimes gives unworthy vessels a greater portion of power so that others will eventually see the true state of internal nakedness within that individual.” God let Saul reign that long to expose his weakness and his flaws for all to see. “But it also says,” Edwards wrote, “for David, his suffering had this purpose: God wants to take the Saul out of us. In each one of us, there’s a sinful leaning toward egocentricity, toward pride and jealousy and resentment and a willingness to do harm to others. If it helps us, God wants to take the Saul out of your heart and life. God sometimes will use suffering to purge and purify the believer’s heart to shape our character to the heart of Christ.
So in the midst of it all, God taught David to love the unlovely. God taught David to live without bitterness. God taught David not to live as a psychological victim wallowing in his own self-pity, but rather to trust God deeply in all things.
David’s hope was in God’s power, in the history of God’s faithfulness, in God’s promises, and the truth that he knew he had been anointed for a future to serve God and His purposes. David’s hope was in God’s power. That’s why he said in Psalm 27, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear.” Paul wrote in Romans 8, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
The working of the Spirit is not always in the raw power of deliverance. Sometimes the working of the Spirit empowers perseverance and patient endurance so we learn to trust God in all things. Our hope is in God’s power, but our hope is also in the history of God’s faithfulness, which is found in the biblical witness of God’s story with His people. However, it is also from our personal story of God’s moments of deliverance and help and grace to us in our own journey of faith.
Our hope – like David’s – is in God’s promises. David wrote in Psalm 139, “Lord, you are intimately acquainted with all my ways and you’ve laid your hand on me. Where can I go from your Spirit? If I go to heaven, you are there. Even in hell, behold you are there. Even there your hand will lead me. Even the darkness is not dark to you, O Lord.”
We need to remember that Jesus, the Son of God our Savior, went to the cross to absorb the worst evil that the world can hurl at Him, to absorb into His own body the darkness of the world’s injustice so we would know in times of difficulty, adversity, and suffering, we are not alone. The presence of Jesus within us gives us strength to persevere in faith, no matter how dark the way. We are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ who loves us.
Finally, David knew he had been anointed by God for God’s purposes. Jeremiah 29 says, “I know the plans I have for you, for your welfare and not calamity, to give you a future full of hope.” As a believer, you are anointed by God’s Spirit. God has plans for your life – plans to bless you and to use your life for His glory!
Trust the Lord, even in times when spear thrower is trying to do you wrong. Even when you go through suffering and pain and great adversity, the Lord is with you. Trust in Him. Amen.
Pastor Lee Laaveg