Being a servant of the Lord has never been easy. Though God has always desired good things for His people, the Bible shows that there has always been opposition and rebellion towards His work. There has always been people that despise the Lord, seeking to do His job better just like Satan. There has always been people that sought to disrupt and destroy the work that the Lord aspires to do by seeking to cause His people difficulties of various kinds. In many extreme cases, the opposition has been so intense that people have sought the lives of God’s servants. Knowing this, it is important to consider the promises of God since the cost of following Him can be so great. Jesus taught that those who desire to gain life (eternal) must be willing to loose life. In some cases, history has shown that those who desire to do the will of God are sometimes called to die, but not without promise and reward.
It is also important to understand that sometimes persecution comes from within. The persecution of God’s people does not always come from enemies in distant places. Sometimes the greatest opposition comes from the closest proximity. For example, the Bible teaches that when Jesus came into the world, the world did not recognize Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah. Those without the Word of God couldn’t recognize Jesus as God in flesh. Yet, when Jesus came to His own, His own rejected and despised Him. Jesus came to those who did have the Word of God, those that should have known about His identity and purpose, and yet those people rejected Him anyway. Jesus sought to bring salvation to the children of Israel. Yet it was the children of Israel that denied Jesus. Jesus sought to cleanse the corrupted Jewish religious system, and yet it was those very people that sought to kill Jesus. In fact, the Bible also shows that Jesus’ own brothers didn’t believe and gave Jesus a hard time until later in His ministry.
This same difficult principle is seen in the testimony of king David as well. Some of the greatest opposition that David received was not by the Philistines or other enemy armies. Some of the greatest opposition that David received came from Saul. Saul was the man that David perhaps served with the greatest effort and zeal, and yet Saul sought to kill him. Additionally, the persecution of Saul extended out farther than David. Saul grew so hateful against David that Saul began to attack others that were associated with David. Jesus taught that His disciples would be persecuted for His namesake. Since the world hated Jesus, those that followed Jesus would be hated by the world too. Likewise, Saul hated David, and eventually waged war against those who followed David, or associated with David in a friendly manner of any kind.
In 1 Samuel 22:6-23 the Bible testifies that Saul went after the priests in Israel on account of one man that helped David. Recall that when David was in need of food and a sword, he first approached Ahimelech in the city of Nob. David told Ahimelech that he was on a secret mission that required him to move quickly. David told Ahimelech that since he had to move so quickly, he didn’t have time to pack any food or weapons. Ahimelech knew of David, and sought to meet his basic needs. Knowing of David’s integrity and faithfulness, Ahimelech helped David by giving him bread and Goliath’s sword that was being kept there. The scriptures testified that there was a man named Doeg that was an Edomite that was present when these things took place. It is important to understand that the Edomites were a group of people that harbored great bitterness and jealousy against the children of Israel. The Edomites were the children of Edom, which is another name for Esau. Esau was the twin brother of Jacob, and while Esau was technically born first, he surrendered his birthright and blessing to Jacob in exchange for a bowl of soup. Jacob received Esau’s blessing and Esau was bitter about the situation to the extent that his descendants developed anger and spite against the descendants of Jacob.
This man Doeg was a man raised in a culture that the Bible explains had an “ancient hatred” for the children of Israel (Ezekiel 35:5). Therefore, when this man saw an opportunity to bring destruction against Israel, he took advantage. 1 Samuel 22:6-23 explains that Doeg went to Saul to inform Saul about the help that Ahimelech had offered to David. When Saul heard the news, he lost his mind and responded in even more anger than he had displayed before. The scriptures explain that Saul addressed all of his servants together. He questioned their loyalty since his son Jonathan had secretly helped David and no one told Saul about it. Saul felt t that everyone was against him. Saul also accused everyone else of conspiring against him in favor of David. Saul considered the help that Ahimelech offered to be a conspiracy against him as well. Saul grew incredibly paranoid and isolated himself in anger on account of his jealousy.
Saul eventually called Ahimelech to question him. However, rather than question only Ahimelech, he called for his whole family. Saul accused Ahimelech of conspiring against him as if Ahimelech’s actions to help David were intentionally malicious against Saul. Though Ahimelech had no idea that Saul was seeking to kill David and that David was on the run from Saul, king Saul sought to abuse his authority in a jealous rage. Saul wanted Ahimelech and his family dead. However, he was afraid to execute the servants of the Lord by his own hands, so he commanded his servants to kill Ahimelech. They refused to kill the servants of the Lord as well. However, Doeg the Edomite took advantage of the opportunity to attack the children of Israel, took a sword in hand, and slaughtered eighty-five men on the spot. The Bible also states that Doeg went into the hometown of Ahimelech and killed every man, woman, child, and animal in the area to exact Saul’s judgment. Though these men and women did nothing wrong and many of them were committed to serving the Lord as His priests, they were murdered on account of the jealousy of one man that sought to lord over the people as if he were God.
Thankfully, the scriptures explain that one man escaped Doeg and his rampage. One of Ahimelech’s sons, a man named Abiathar, fled and sought after David to let David know what was going on. David mourned the actions of Saul and actually took responsibility upon himself. Though Saul was the evil man that encouraged the murder of the Lord’s servants, David felt that he was responsible since he sought Ahimelech for help. David figured that, if he wouldn’t have asked Ahimelech for the bread and a sword none of those people would have suffered. However, the scriptures show that David was not at fault. The jealousy of Saul caused him to be consumed by a distressing spirit, which eventually caused him to resemble the character of the devil. David’s response was in accordance with the Lord, completely contrasting Saul’s. When David heard these things about Ahimelech and his family, David swore to protect Abiathar. David took the servant of the Lord in as a refugee and was committed to protecting him. Thus, David proved to be a man after God’s own heart, opposing evil with good, protecting the people of the Lord that the enemy sought to destroy.
The Bible describes the true church of Jesus Christ in an interesting way. When the Apostle Paul first addressed the Corinthian church, he sought to remind them about their nature in the eyes of God. Though the city of Corinth was made up of people that were mostly wealthy, they were also miserably depraved and living in intense darkness. Paul described the church in this manner:
“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” – 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
It is important to consider how Paul described the people that had been called to faith in Jesus Christ. Paul explained that God did not select the wise people of the world to be His children. He selected dummies. Paul explained that God didn’t select people that were considered noble and mighty. God selected people that are considered foolish, weak, and base. God purposefully selected men and women that have been despised and rejected by the wise, mighty, and popular of the world. God’s purpose in this is to put to shame the world and to show that no one in His presence will have the ability to boast.
The same could be said of Jesus’ ministry. When looking at the disciples that He hand selected, is there one that stands out as a pillar of society? Were any of the original twelve considered to be mighty men or game changers? When Peter, Andrew, James and John were called, their business was struggling as they failed to catch fish on the day that Jesus approached them. Matthew was a man despised by his fellow countrymen because of his profession. Nothing of note is mentioned of any of the rest of the men. In fact, the one common attribute of these men that Jesus highlights through His ministry is their lacking in faith. Clearly there was nothing to boast about there. When Jesus began to minister to the crowds, He did not go into the temple to develop relationships with the Jewish religious leaders in order to minister from the beauty of a structure. Instead, Jesus went to Galilee and separated from the men who were respected and admired. Jesus first healed a leper – one that was outcast from society. Jesus healed paralytics, blind people, and women – those who traditionally would not have been able to provide profit or increase to His work. Jesus revealed His identity as the Son of God and Messiah to Gentiles and Samaritans – people that were despised by the Jews. It is clear to see that Paul wrote what he did because it was in line with the pattern of Jesus’ own ministry.
It is important to recognize that God has always been working this way. God is not looking for the strong, the rich, or the influential to get His work done. Abraham was a friend and heir of God, but was nothing amongst his countrymen. Moses became a mighty leader for the Lord but only when he was separated from the worldly influence he had under the Egyptians. Joshua and Caleb were old men when they battled the native inhabitants of the Promised Land. Barak was afraid to fight without the accompaniment of Deborah. Gideon was afraid of the Midianites like the rest of Israel and had a bad attitude. While Samson might have had strength, his weakness was women. Yet all of these people are considered heroes, not for the natural ability they brought to the table as servants of God, but for the work that God did through these people that had nothing of value apart from God.
The testimony of David shows that God did a similar work in his life. When David slew Goliath, he was only a shepherd boy and a harp player. This is hardly the description of one someone we would select to fight the enemy’s champion in hand-to-hand combat. When David was anointed as king, he was not immediately put into a position of authority over Israel because he was merely a boy. He had no experience. He had no wisdom. In fact, the Bible kind of explains that Saul might have been better looking as a king than David. All David had was a maturing relationship with the Lord God Almighty. However, even that didn’t assure David great power and strength as a king until much later in his life. David had to spend a great deal of time running for his life due to the jealousy of Saul. When he fled to Gath he had to pretend to be a madman, drooling and clawing himself in hopes to be pitied enough to be spared. One would hardly consider this behavior to be wise, mighty, or noble.
In 1 Samuel 22:1-5 the Bible explains that God started to build the kingdom of David using the same pattern of work that has been described so far. After David left Gath in the Philistine territory, he sought refuge in the caves of Adullam, which was south of Gath. Shortly after, the Bible testifies that David’s family heard about where he was so they went to see him. His brothers expressed greater compassion for David than they had in the past. The Bible explains that Jesse’s entire household went down to be with David likely to comfort and support him. Though David was fleeing from the king of Israel, they sought to help. Additionally, it was likely that after Saul could not capture and kill David that Saul would end up pressuring and threatening his family in order to get to David. However, David was not content with his mother and father living in caves, and didn’t want them to be living under the threat of Saul. He inquired of the king of Moab if his parents could take refuge there until the Lord revealed His purpose to David. The king of Moab agreed, and David’s parents were accounted for.
The Lord’s work did not stop there however. So far, David was receiving help and comfort from his brothers and his father’s household, but one must consider the position David was in based on what is known of those people. Recall that the household of Jesse was not renown. Jesse was not a rich man. Jesse was not a mighty warrior or trainer of great men. Therefore, his household was made up of slaves and his sons. Remember that his sons were just as terrified by Goliath as the rest of Israel. They were not brave men accustomed to great military exploits. Yet they are the men God put with David. Additionally, 1 Samuel 22:1-5 states that many other men started to hear about David’s circumstances and go to him. The Bible says that “everyone” who was in distress, in debt, and discontented gathered to David!
Though David was under a great deal of stress and needed help, God brought to him more men that were stressed that also needed help. David was to be the king of Israel – the start of the Messianic kingship – but was a man living in caves with a bunch of other lousy men. The original language describes the men as, “distressed,” which describes those who are in anguish, in confinement or with a disability. The original language describes the men as in debt. This means that these men had nothing to offer. David had to take leftover showbread and a Philistine sword from Ahimelech. He was clearly a man in need. Yet God did not provide David with people of great resources to borrow from. God sent more people in need to David. The people that sought David were those who had nothing to offer. If David was going to lead these men, he wasn’t going to get anything for it in return. The original language states that these men were “discontented.” This means that they were bitter. They carried heavy burdens. They were angry. They had bad attitudes. They were not encouraging men sent to David to give him pep talks. These men were salty in the worse way. Yet God brought every one of these types of men to David during this time in David’s life!
The scriptures go on to say that David was going to stay in the strongholds of Moab to try to be close to his parents and stay safe from Saul. However, there was a prophet named Gad that commanded David to go down to the region of Judah instead – closer to the action. Therefore, David obeyed and took four hundred of these men into the forests of the area to live there. What kind of life is this for the king of Israel, the first of the Messianic line? What kind of foundation is this to a powerful kingdom that is supposed to be anointed by God? It is interesting to look at the beginning of David’s ministry service unto the Lord and compare it to the end. King David is certainly known for his great military victories and the power that he brought to the nation of Israel. However, the scriptures clearly show that his victories and strength were not of himself. David’s mighty men were well known in Israel in the later part of David’s life, but they were the despised and rejected of Israel before they were known as mighty. The men that bravely fought Israel’s enemies to expand Israel’s boarders and bring peace amongst their enemies were first Israel’s most pitiful, bitter, and broke men in Israel. These are the men that God selected for the job.
Usually when a person with authority is trying to put together a team that is expected to succeed, they seek the best of the best. They seek those with a proven track record or those with the most promise and upside. They seek talent. They seek vetted wisdom. They seek people with resources and influence. God doesn’t work this way. He is the Creator of all things and is sovereign above all things. He is Provider and so His selections of His people are with the intent to prove these truths. He selects men and women without strength so that He can show the world He is the Provider of strength. God selects men and women without wisdom so that He can prove to everyone that He is the Provider of wisdom. God purposefully selects men and women that are not great, that are not liked, that are straight pitied in this world with the purpose to prove that He is able to impart His glory unto anything and anyone as the sole Possessor of greatness. Therefore, do the children of God have any reason to boast? Should the children of God speak as if wisdom, strength, honor, greatness and glory are natural to God’s people? According to the Bible, the only merit that God’s people have worthy of gloating over is God’s own spirit on account of faith – and nothing more. Everything else about a true child of God is pitiful, not only in His sight, but the world’s especially. The pattern of God’s work is clear in scripture. God selects weak and foolish men and women to do great and powerful things through for His glory sake so that the weak are made strong and the foolish are made wise only in Him!
The Bible provides a wealth of testimonies that prove that the Lord’s mercies transcend the follies of His people. Even though God’s people have been equipped with His Spirit, carrying the power of God from within, God’s people still fail. The Lord Jesus simply taught that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. As Christians, we have the eternally unconditional promises of God given to us in the Word, verified by history, and even confirmed from within by the Holy Spirit, yet many of us respond in fear to the various circumstances that life brings. God commands His people over and over to abstain from fear, trusting in His power, sovereign control, kindness, and faithfulness to His promises. Yet the Bible is filled with examples of God’s people failing to trust Him. The Bible exposes the brittle nature of our faith in the Lord, showing that when things get hard and uncertain, there is a very strong human tendency to fear circumstances rather than trust the God who is in charge of them.
Perhaps one of the most shameful examples of this reality is provided through the testimony of king David. Of all people, the Bible shows that the might warrior, king David, had moments of doubt, uncertainty, and put himself out there to be considered a fool and a madman. In 1 Samuel 21:10-15 the Bible explains that after David left Ahimelech’s place, being given food and sword, he moved on to hide from Saul in the city of Gath. When David arrived in Gath, he did not seek to find refuge by explaining his circumstances. David knew that his presence in Gath brought risk, though he figured it to be less risk that being where Saul could find him. The city of Gath was one of the cities of the Philistines. In fact, the Bible explains that Gath was the native city of Goliath! As the slayer of Goliath, David was certainly concerned about how he might be received if he was discovered being there. Nevertheless, David figured if he could stay hidden amongst the people, he would be safer amongst the enemy Philistines rather than in the presence of Saul.
Problems followed David quickly when he got to Gath. The people nearly immediately recognized him. The people even questioned one another in awe saying, “Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of him to one another in dances saying, ‘Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands?’” The exploits of David against the Philistines was well known in the city of Gath, and it didn’t take long for the people to find David in their midst. There are some things worth noting in this reality. First, note that, while David had not yet been installed as the king of Israel, the enemy certainly recognized the authority of David as king even though Saul still carried the title. The work that God did through David was significant enough that the enemy saw David as a greater man than the one who actually carried the title. Samuel had anointed David as king in private, but the Lord was making it so that David carried the attributes of a king in such a manner that those around him recognized. The magnitude of God’s work was obvious, speaking loudly amongst onlookers.
The challenge is that God’s work had put a target on David’s back. It is true that the people recognized the authority God instilled upon David, but this brought risk to David. It is likely that he figured, “The family and friends of the giant that I slayed probably won’t be happy to see me here, and will likely seek an opportunity to avenge Goliath as long as I’m in their midst.” Unfortunately, David allowed this possibility to instill fear into his heart. The scriptures say that David became very afraid of Achish, the king in Gath. David became so afraid that scripture says that he “changed his behavior.” It should be noted that those who “change their behavior” on account of fear of circumstances and people are not doing what is pleasing to the Lord. Remember how many times God called His people to abstain from fear? Remember how the Lord promised to protect His people from the enemy? The circumstances David faced caused him to quickly forget those things of God. While David was confident in the Lord to deliver him from one giant, David was not as confident in God to deliver him from the community of the enemy. It was as if David saw the numbers of the people and figured them to be more dangerous than the power of God. This is unfortunate.
The fear of David caused him to conduct himself in a shameful way. The Bible testifies that David pretended to be a madman. Hoping to be pitied by the people, David scratched on the doors of the gate and let saliva fall down his beard. He made himself to look like a bum and forced himself to act out of character like a lunatic. This was not representative of the man that God created David to be. This was not representative of the bold boy that slayed Goliath. This was not representative of the young man that slayed two hundred Philistines to collect their foreskins on behalf of Saul to marry his daughter. This was not representative of the young man that had recently received the kind and affectionate help of Jonathan and Abimelech as by the Lord to sustain, equip, and encourage him. David allowed the difficulty of his circumstances to block the remembrance of all the work God had done to bring him to the place he was in life.
It is true that David was not in a very comfortable place in life at this time. Life was not treating David kindly by any means. David’s life was sought by his own people and by the king that he faithfully served and loved. David was dwelling amongst his enemies that surely would seek vengeance at some point in time. Nevertheless, do the change in circumstances ever cause God to change? Certainly not! If God doesn’t change, then why should His people on account of circumstances? When Achish the king saw David acting like a shameful fool, he pitied him indeed. Achish was actually embarrassed by David’s conduct and so he sent David away. Achish told his people that he has no need of madmen in his presence, and had no desire to have David in his home or amongst his people. David was shamefully sent away.
This testimony shows that, while David was able to escape the enemy safely, his witness of the Lord was not very good. Nevertheless, God was merciful. The mercy of God is actually revealed in Psalm 34. According to the title of the Psalm 34, this is the psalm that David wrote in response to his time in Gath. David wrote about how fearful the circumstances were. David explained how his world was against him, and yet the Lord delivered him. David’s life was genuinely threatened, and though David was afraid, God rescued him. God was able to use the shameful conduct of David as a way to deliver David into safety. David attributed his escape from Gath to the Lord, not his madman acting routine. David wrote praises to the Lord, expressing that the Angel of the Lord (the Old Testament manifestation of Jesus Christ) encamps around those who fear Him. Though David feared Achish, he still feared God more, and God responded kindly to that. David implored his readers to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” David didn’t write this phrase in the midst of victory. David wrote this phrase in the midst of deliverance despite his inability to handle the situation with strength and courage.
David goes on to remind the people of God that those who trust in the Lord and fear Him are satisfied with the good things of God, regardless of ability to handle situations properly. David taught that the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, which is a compelling statement considering David’s conduct around Achish. According to this testimony, the “righteous” are obviously not those who respond as heroes in every set of circumstances. The Bible teaches that Abraham “believed” and it was accounted to him as “righteousness.” When considering that statement in context with David’s testimony in 1 Samuel 21:10-15, it is clear to see that even the faithful have lapses in faith. Even the faithful have fear. Yet still, God is more faithful, and His mercy transcends the faithlessness of His people in times of fear. Though God’s people might express fear every now and then like David, blowing their testimony, God is merciful to deliver His people anyway to uphold His own namesake. In 2 Timothy 2:13 the Bible teaches, “If we are faithless, he remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” The testimony of David in Gath certainly proves this as true. Thus, while there is not an excuse for the shameful fear of God’s people, God’s people can rest assured that His faithful mercy and grace is far greater than the silly ways His people might respond to the trials of life.
The scriptures teach that God is merciful and compassionate. He looks upon His creation, and when He sees a legitimate need that is profitable for spiritual means, He addresses it. The perfect example of this truth is seen in the testimony of Jesus Christ. The Father saw that human beings were unable to deal with the issues of sin that lead to condemnation and death, and so He mercifully took the task upon Himself to give sinners an opportunity to receive forgiveness and eternal life according to the Father’s original plan. While Jesus was dealing with the sins of the world in His time on this planet, He also showed the mercy and compassion of God to meet certain physical needs as well. Jesus healed people in pitiful positions. Jesus fed people in need. Jesus raised the dead. While Jesus’ motives for doing these things were PURELY spiritual to prove His identity as the Son of God and Messiah, He was willing to offer physical and emotional comfort nonetheless.
The Apostle James encouraged a suffering church to do the same, despite the suffering. The Book of James explains that if a believer in Jesus Christ sees someone in need, they should make efforts to address that need if they have the means. When a Christian sees another in need and simply says, “Be warm and filled,” without addressing the need, there is no profit for anyone in this. Imagine if God had looked upon the human race that was condemned to death, and instead of dying for the sins of the world, He simply said, “Be warmed and filled,” having that as the extent of His help. We’d all be dead! Jesus was not only able to meet the physical and spiritual needs of all people as the Son of God, but was also willing to die to Himself in order to do so. Before Jesus fed the 5,000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish, the Bible testifies that Jesus looked at the crowds and was moved with compassion. Upon being moved with compassion, Jesus healed many people and cast out many demons from them. According to the Bible, compassion is not just feeling bad for someone. Compassion is having sympathetic distress for another with the desire to alleviate their pain. When examining the example of Jesus, compassion requires response based on a desire to demonstrate and fulfill the character of God.
The testimony of David shows that there were people that God put in the life of David to show compassion to David. That compassion allowed David to become the mighty warrior and king that he ultimately became. David had Jonathan in his life that showed compassion to help David escape the murder attempts of Saul. After David was forced to leave his home to escape Saul, the Bible explains that God put the priest Ahimelech in the life of David to help him continue on his walk with the Lord. In 1 Samuel 21:1-9 the Bible explains that David left his home and made his way to the city of Nob. Having to leave his home in great haste to preserve his life, David didn’t have any food or supplies with him to take care of his needs and the few men that he had with him. By the time that David got to Nob he and his men were hungry. It had been at least three days since David left his home during the feast of the New Moon, and so David was in search of help.
The scriptures testify that when David got to Nob he sought out the priest Ahimelech hoping that there would be food in the place of his service. David didn’t want to tell Ahimelech that he was on the run for his life due to the unjust murder attempts of Saul. Therefore, when Ahimelech asked why David was there alone with such a small group of men, David made up a story. He told Ahimelech that he was on a special secret mission that required him to leave Saul with great haste. Since he left so quickly, he was unable to prepare food and weaponry for he and his men. Upon explaining the situation, David asked Ahimelech if he could have five loaves of bread, presumably because there were four other men with David. Ahimelech eventually ended up helping David and met his needs, but explained a certain dilemma that caused a minor issue with David’s request. David asked Ahimelech if he had bread. Ahimelech confessed that he had bread. However, the bread that Ahimelech had was not supposed to be used for the purposes that David requested.
The bread that Ahimelech had was the showbread of the tabernacle. God’s commands concerning the showbread begin in Leviticus 24:5-9. God commanded that the Levitical priests were to always keep twelve pieces of fresh bread on display in the tabernacle on a special table built specifically for this bread. The bread was to be placed in two rows, and was supposed to be symbolic of the twelve tribes of Israel. The bread was not for eating. It was called “showbread” because it was bread that was only for display. Since the bread had significant symbolic meaning, He considered it holy. The bread was to serve as a memorial, made with oil and frankincense. The ingredients, the arrangement, and purpose of the bread was to be symbolic of Jesus as the spiritual nourishment of the twelve tribes of Israel. The showbread was to be freshly baked and replaced every week. After a week, the old showbread was to be consumed by the high priest and his sons in a designated holy place. This was the only bread that Ahimelech had access to when David asked.
According to the Law of Moses, David would not be allowed to have this bread. However, Ahimelech recognized several things that eventually caused him to give the bread to David. First, David and his men were in need. Ahimelech likely wouldn’t have considered giving the showbread to David if he had not first recognized David’s need, having a desire to meet his need. Second, Ahimelech recognized that it was the seventh day that the showbread was put out. This means that the available bread that Ahimelech had was no longer to be put on display. It was now his bread to be consumed by him and his family in a special holy place. The bread was no longer considered to be holy, but was in fact common. Third, Ahimelech knew that the bread was to be consumed by the priests. Therefore, Ahimelech asked David if he and his men had been “pure.” Ahimelech wanted to ensure that David and his men were not ceremonially unclean, having come in contact with any dead person, having had sexual relationships with a woman, or other things of uncleanness according to the Law.
David assured Ahimelech that he and his men were indeed pure. They had not been with any women for over three days, and had not been in contact with any impure thing according to the Law. As Ahimelech examined the circumstances according to the present needs, he recognized that he was in a position to help the people of God and did so. Ahimelech gave David the five loaves of bread that he requested. Additionally, David asked Ahimelech if there were any swords in the building. David told Ahimelech that he had to leave with such great haste that he forgot to bring his sword. Ahimelech confessed that he only had one sword – Goliath’s sword. Ahimelech told David that he could take the sword of the one that he killed. It was wrapped up in a cloth, not being used by the priest, and so David took it.
The scriptures show that Ahimelech was extremely helpful to David. He was first willing to acknowledge the need. He wasn’t so absorbed in his own business that he dismissed the needs of others. Ahimelech then recognized that the Lord had provided him with excess in order to help meet the needs of others. Ahimelech didn’t need five extra loaves of bread. Ahimelech didn’t need a sword. The excess that Ahimelech received from God was given to those in need to help them accomplish the purpose that God had for them – much in the same way that the early church shared their individual possessions. Ahimelech was also wise in his giving. He was not foolish to just give out that which God had intended for other use. Ahimelech was a good steward of God’s possessions, making sure that he was not foolishly giving away the Lord’s possessions. After measuring the circumstances with wisdom according to God’s righteousness, he understood that his resources were helpful to God’s people and used them in helpful ways. This is how it should be done.
The Apostle Peter wrote that the true church of Jesus Christ is to show fervent love to one another above all things (1 Peter 4:8). According to the Bible, the most fundamental and critical facet of church life and ministry is based on fervent love that is shown between those who believe in Jesus Christ. The Bible defines “love” as the revelation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Messiah for the purpose of salvation. Biblical love between believers in Jesus Christ is made manifest when a person dies to their own selfish ambitions and desires in order to ensure the spiritual benefit of the other. This is what Jesus did – to the point of literal death. The Bible teaches that “God is love (1 John 4:8),” and since this is what God did in flesh as Jesus, true Biblical love can only be shown in this manner. However, it is not just that the church is supposed to show love, but even “fervent” love. This means that the church is supposed to relentlessly pursue opportunities to serve the spiritual needs of others – whether it be unto salvation, or to encourage someone already saved. The life of a Christian should model the life of Christ in the sense that each believer should be committed to serving God by dying to self with the motivation of leading others to Christ in some way, shape, or form, regardless of risk, inconvenience, or discomfort. Since the Holy Spirit is the One that motivates and manufactures this type of attitude and conduct, then it is important to recognize that God is the author of the bond that is to exist between His people; and that bond should be strong!
This command shows that the people of God are supposed to care for each other. Too often, the modern church operates under the premise of individualistic compartmentalization. People often show up to a church service, do their thing, and leave. They may attend a church for years and never get to know anyone in the building. They never learn about the needs of others that might be sitting right next to them. They never have the desire to pour into other people for their benefit. They never look to the right or the left to acknowledge the needs of others. Some might even despise the people in the church. They might sarcastically make jokes about how they love church but hate people. Some try to hide their distaste for others through crude humor. None of these things are in line with the commands or character of God. None of these things resemble the relationships seen in the Bible based on the compassionate and affectionate bonds that God created between His people.
The Bible provides clear examples of what “church” relationships should look like, even before the formation of the church. God has been joining and bonding people together for a long time for His glory sake. An example of the type of relationship that God desires His people to have for one another can be seen in the lives of Jonathan and David. The selfless care and compassion that Jesus expressed in the New Testament is clearly seen through the faithful kindness that Jonathan showed to David. The testimony of 1 Samuel 20:1-42 documents an instance in which the bonds that God forms between people was really evident. The testimony begins when David sought out Jonathan to inquire why his father, Saul, was so adamant about killing him. David wanted to know what he had done wrong. David wanted to know why Saul hated him so much. David wanted to know what he did to offend Saul and what he could do to restore the relationship between them. Saul had already made several attempts on David’s life, and David had no idea as to why Saul wanted him dead.
When David approached Jonathan about Saul, Jonathan assured David that Saul would not have his way. Jonathan assured David that he would live and that his father would not be allowed to cause any harm. Jonathan had already expressed his willingness to defy his father in order to ensure David’s safety. Jonathan had already professed and proved his loyalty to David, not necessarily to spite his father, but to uphold justice and righteousness. Though Jonathan did not know that Samuel had anointed David as the king, he knew deep down that David would take his father’s place. Jonathan knew that his father’s desire to kill David was unjust and evil. Jonathan despised his father in order to stand up for righteousness, not to be rebel. Jonathan appreciated David and the common faith they had in the Lord. Knowing that David was a man of God and that God was using David to do great things in Israel, Jonathan sought to protect the instrument of the Lord by any means necessary.
Jonathan and David met in a field to discuss the situation concerning Saul’s evil intentions to kill David. Since David had fled to Naioth to hide with Samuel, David wanted to know if it was safe for him to return back to his family and his wife. Jonathan and David came up with a plan to communicate Saul’s intentions, whether they remained wicked, or if he was willing to relent against David. The two men made an oath before God, leveraging the upcoming feast day to measure Saul’s intentions. David told Jonathan that he would hide in the fields for the three days of the feast of the New Moon. They figured during that time that Saul would notice David’s absence. David told Jonathan to inform Saul that when he inquired about his absence, to tell Saul that he went to Bethlehem to offer sacrifices with his family during the feast day. They determined that if Saul grew angry about David’s absence, then Saul’s intentions were likely still evil and David’s life was not safe. If Saul did not care about David’s absence on account of him being with his family, then Jonathan and David determined that Saul’s anger had passed and he was safe to return.
Jonathan then came up with a plan to communicate Saul’s attitude. In order to conceal his assistance for David, Jonathan told David that he would go to the field at the end of the feast. He would shoot three arrows at a distance and tell his servant to go get the arrows. If he declared that if he told the servant that the arrows were near and to bring them in, that it was safe to return. Saul’s anger had subsided. However, if Jonathan told the servant that the arrows were beyond him and too far off, Saul’s anger had not subsided and David would have to flee. Upon David hearing Jonathan’s commands to his servant in the field, he would know what to do and could do as Jonathan determined was best for David’s life. When the feast of the New Moon came, Jonathan and David made efforts to execute their plan together to ensure David’s safety. Though this plan put Jonathan at great risk with his own father, Jonathan was committed to helping David and the two men swore an oath together before the Lord.
The Bible explains that when the first day of the feast came, Saul noticed that David’s seat was empty. He figured that David was not ceremonially prepared to celebrate the feast day, and was unclean. Saul didn’t think anything more of it and assumed David would make efforts to prepare himself for the next day of the feast, and join the celebration then. When the next day came and Saul saw that David’s seat was empty again, he inquired of Jonathan where David was. Jonathan stuck to the plan that he had formed with David in the field. He told his father that David had gone down to Bethlehem to celebrate the feast day with his family as was the custom to share in a special sacrifice. Saul had no compassion for David and didn’t buy into Jonathan’s story. Saul immediately accused Jonathan of conspiring against him. Saul’s anger erupted and he called Jonathan, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman” in front of everyone at the feast. Saul had no filter and had no sense to understand why Jonathan sought to help David. Saul considered his own son to be his enemy simply because Jonathan sought to do what was right in the sight of the Lord. Saul’s anger caused him to publicly proclaim his desire to kill David once again, and when Jonathan asked why he wanted David dead, Saul took up a spear and heaved it at his son! Saul tried to kill his own son on account of his anger and insanity.
The scriptures testify that Jonathan was angry with his father and grieved for David. The bond that God had developed between Jonathan and David caused Jonathan to have great concern and care for David. Jonathan was offended that his father wanted to kill David. Jonathan was hurt that Saul despised David on account of jealousy. Jonathan’s affection for David was such that he was willing to risk his relationship with his father and even his life because he believed that David was God’s instrument of righteousness. Jonathan didn’t simply like David because he was a nice guy. The bond between Jonathan and David was on account of their common faith in the Lord and their desire to see His will be done in Israel. Jonathan was willing to defy his father because he considered the will of God more important. Jonathan was willing to risk his life for David because he believed that David’s was God’s anointed. It was their connection to the Lord that caused these two men to be extra close, taking oaths in the name of the Lord, risking their own lives for the benefit of the other.
After Saul tried to kill Jonathan, it was pretty clear that Saul still had evil intentions against David. Jonathan then fulfilled the next part of the plan. He took his servant out to the field, shot the three arrows and yelled out to the servant that the arrows were too far and beyond him so that David could hear the warning in code. The servant of Jonathan turned back and Jonathan’s plan went successfully. The Bible explains that David and Jonathan met up later in the field to say goodbye to one another. The two men knew that David had to flee and both men were distraught about the circumstances. They cared for one another and wanted to be involved in the work that the Lord was doing through each. Jonathan really desired to see the Lord’s work through David, believing that he would be the next king of Israel. Jonathan made David swear that he would show his family favor forever on account of the help that Jonathan provided, anticipating David to be king. David agreed, knowing that his life was preserved by the work that the Lord was doing through Jonathan. Before the men departed from one another, David fell on his face to the ground, bowed before the Lord three times, wept with Jonathan, gave each other holy kisses, and departed.
The Bible describes a sad and pitiful scene as Jonathan and David separated. The relationship between Jonathan and David might seem unusual to some, but this is the kind of bond that God forms between His people. This testimony shows that God’s people actually care about each other. God’s people are actually concerned for one another. God’s people actually want to spend time together. God’s people actually desire to see the work that the Lord does in His other people. God’s people are actually interested in the benefits and growth of others. The testimony of Jonathan and David doesn’t show selfishness or introversion at all. The conduct of Jonathan shows that the bond God causes between His people is such that one is willing to lay down one’s life for one’s friend. Jonathan was even willing to forsake his wicked father to help promote the work of God through his brother in the Lord. Though these types of relationships are seldom seen in the church today, the scriptures make it clear to see that these are the types of relationships that the Lord forges to further His purposes and glorify Himself.
In a world of uncertainty, there is no shortage of people and organizations trying to comfort the people with various offers of security and safety. It is important to understand though, that the world’s version of safety and security is all vanity. The world’s version of safety and security is brittle in nature, and ultimately fake. Consider how many people invested so much of their income into safety and security for retirement and then lost everything during the real estate crash. The cushions that people built up were suddenly deflated. The plans people make were quickly foiled. So many people panicked because where they thought they were safe and secure, they quickly found out that they were not. There have been plenty of people that have worked diligently to move their families into “nice neighborhoods” only to find out that violence, robbery, and pedophilia happen in “nice neighborhoods” too. The Bible teaches that God is the true provider of safety and security. He is Protector. He is Provider. He is our Strong Tower, our Rock, and our Fortress. The world cannot duplicate what He does, and so it is important that the people of God trust Him and not false claims of security and safety that come from the world.
When speaking about safety and security in the Bible, it is important to understand a critical truth. God is interested in the spiritual integrity of His people more than the physical circumstances. When the Bible teaches that God is not willing that any should perish, it does not mean that Christians don’t die. The Bible teaches that it is appointed for a person to die once, and then the judgment. This includes God’s children. History has shown that plenty of God’s people have died horrible and violent deaths – including Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah King of Israel. God’s offer of safety and security does not guarantee that His people will live peaceful and comfortable lives in this world. In fact, Jesus promised that His followers would suffer persecution. The Book of Acts confirmed Jesus’ promise as true. Rather, God ensures that His people remain in a usable condition in this life so that He is able to accomplish His purpose with them while in this world. God’s identity as a protector refers to His ability to maintain the integrity of His people so that they are able to fulfill His purpose in this life. In other words, God’s people will be as physically safe and secure as they need to be in order to accomplish their purpose; and will spiritually safe and secure in the hands of God unto eternity.
An example of this truth is provided in the testimony of David. Before David was able to serve as the king of Israel, he had to deal with the wickedness of Saul. Saul was a jealous man, provoked to bitterness and hate to no fault of David’s. David served Saul humbly and peacefully, but Saul grew angry at David to the point that he made many attempts to take the life of David. As David’s popularity grew amongst the children of Israel, Saul grew angrier. As David continued to escape the plans that Saul made to harm David, Saul grew angrier. As David continued to succeed on behalf of Israel through the Spirit of God, Saul grew angrier. 1 Samuel 19:11-24 documents some of the desperate attempts that Saul made to destroy David. However, the Bible shows that God exercised His sovereign power to ensure that David remained safe so that God’s plans for David could be fulfilled.
First, the Bible shows that Saul tried to kill David himself by throwing spears at David. Though David sought to comfort Saul by playing him soothing music, Saul took spears in his hands to pin David to the walls. When David escaped, Saul dedicated more time and effort into trying to destroy David. Saul sent messengers to David’s house to try and kill David. The Bible explains that these “messengers” were to stay and wait for David, watching him, seeking to find an opportune time to surround him, ambush him, and kill him. However, David’s wife Michal (Saul’s daughter) found out about her father’s plans and informed David. The scriptures testify that she pleaded with David to run from Saul’s plans with haste so that his life could be spared. David was lowered down in a large basket from a window and was able to escape. Meanwhile, Michal found a figure of some sort and covered it in David’s clothes and animal hair, then put it in David’s bed. She later told the “messengers” of Saul that David was sick in bed.
Saul’s servants returned to Saul to explain the situation and how they were unable to kill David. Saul grew in frustration and anger. He commanded the servants to go back to David’s house and bring the whole bed back to Saul with David in it so that Saul could kill David himself. The servants actually went back to David’s home to remove David while in his bed, only to find out that Michal had tricked them. When Saul found out about this, his furry grew even more. He questioned his daughter as to why she would help David at the expense of his own desires. Though Saul was seeking to murder David, he was angry and his daughter had deceived him. Michal lied to her father again by saying that David forced her to help him escape. Her continued deception was likely on account of the fear she saw in her father, but David’s safety was preserved nonetheless. Though Saul’s rage against David continued to grow, and his plots to kill David didn’t cease, God exercised His sovereign control to influence even Saul’s own children to protect His servant David. Both Michal and Jonathan had betrayed their father in efforts to protect the future king of Israel.
Saul did not stop there. When David escaped from his home, the Bible explains that he immediately sought refuge with Samuel at his home. Samuel took him in and the two went off to a city called Naioth in Ramah. While there, Samuel and David linked up with some other men of God and prophesied. Eventually Saul heard that David was with Saul, and so he sent “messengers” again to David to try and take his life. The Bible testifies that when the servants of Saul arrived in Naioth, they saw the group of prophets, were filled with the Spirit of God, and began to prophesy with the prophets! Though Saul had sent those men with evil intentions, God exercised His sovereign control again and caused them to praise Him through prophecy. That which man intended for evil, God used for good. The Bible explains that this happened three times. Three times Saul sent groups of men to Naioth to kill David. Yet three times those groups of men were filled with the Spirit of God and ended up prophesying with the other prophets. The plans of Saul were not only foiled, but God showed Saul that He could take Saul’s own resources and convert them unto His own use at any given time.
To further demonstrate His power to protect David, God did the same thing to Saul. After the third group of men failed to kill David, Saul went to Naioth himself to try and kill David. Once again, when Saul approached the men prophesying, God filled Saul with His Spirit so that Saul was prophesying amongst the rest of the men as well! Saul could not even control his own will and desire to kill David. God proved that, not matter the intents, resources, or influence a person might have, they are absolutely powerless against God and cannot foil God’s plans. God anointed David to be the king of Israel because David was going to be the king of Israel. Nothing was going to change that reality. Though Saul sought to challenge God’s will, God proved that He is able to do whatever it takes to get His purpose accomplished. David lived, that those men who had evil intentions were consumed by the Holy Spirit to speak of the wonderful works of God through prophecy. The Bible teaches that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Christ is Lord – enemy and friend alike. The testimony of 1 Samuel 19:11-24 shows that God is able to make this happen at any time He wants!
This testimony shows that God is able to protect His own investment. God had purpose for David and so God did the work that needed to be done in order for David to accomplish the purpose God ordained for him. No matter how many people sought to destroy David, God intervened to protect David. No matter how power the people that opposed David were, God flexed the power He needed to in order to preserve David for his purpose. No matter how persistent the enemies of David were, God’s strength and authority was longer lasting so that David lived to be the man God created him to be in order to accomplish the things God wanted him to accomplish. This doesn’t mean that David’s life was easy. Clearly, David’s life was not filled with comfort and peaceful circumstances. Nevertheless, David was a safe and secure as he needed to be in order to do that which God purposed for him in this life. David’s eternal security was never an issue either. If God was able to foil the exhaustive plans of Saul to destroy David’s life in this world, and spiritually controlled Saul’s people to do so, then clearly God’s authority extends into the spiritual realm as well, enabling Him to keep His people in His possession at all times. That said, how does the safety and security of the world compare? Can political figures, insurance policies and investments, or other human efforts match the work of God demonstrated in the life of David? Thus, all of God’s people would be wise to trust in Him and Him alone in the manner that David did.
The Bible teaches that God’s judgment is very real. Hell is not a joke. God’s wrath is not a joke. Jesus is the sole Judge and will use the righteousness of the Father’s declared Word as the basis for which people will either escape wrath or receive it. Those who have faith will live, and those who do not will die. It is that simple. This is important to understand as the basis for God’s judgments. Since all sin and fall short of the glory of God, all people deserve the wrath of God. It is a miracle that any person can be saved from His judgment. The reason that the miracle of salvation takes place is because the Bible teaches that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. When God addressed the children of Israel because of their transgressions to warn them of coming judgment, He often said, “Why should you die? Turn and live!” This goes to show that those who actually end up perishing in hell are not “sent” there by God, but instead chose to walk that long dark road on their own by rejecting the opportunities God gives to live according to His grace. People go to hell because they don’t like the life that God gives and the manner in which it comes. When the Bible shows God judging and making determinations that cause people to suffer in torment on account of sin, it is only in response to the condition of the person’s heart that has repeatedly rejected God over long periods of time.
An example of this truth is seen in the testimony of Saul. In 1 Samuel 19:8-10 the Bible explains that Saul made great efforts to pursue ungodly emotions, which eventually caused him to do ungodly things. The Bible never describes his remorse or efforts to repent. In this portion of scripture the Bible testifies that the Philistines arose against Israel again. Saul sent David with the armies of Israel to fight against the Philistines, and since the Spirit of the Lord was upon David, he had great success. The scriptures testify that David delivered a mighty blow against the Philistines and brought Israel another victory in the name of the Lord God Almighty. David continued to serve according to the commands of Saul in humility unto the Lord, and the Lord continued to use David as an instrument of victory and deliverance for the children of Israel. Each time David went to fight, the Philistines fled in fear on account of the work God was doing through him.
Saul did not like this one bit! The Bible explains the distressing spirit from the Lord went to Saul again. Since Saul was distressed, and Jonathan had arranged a truce between David and Saul, David was called back to the court in order to play his music in hopes to soothe Saul’s mind. While David was playing, Saul, motivated by the distressing spirit of the Lord, took a spear in his hand and heaved it at David again. This was the third time Saul sought to take David’s life while David was in the midst of trying to bring comfort to the tormented Saul. Seeing this take place, it is important to recognize the pattern that scripture provides concerning the temperament of Saul. It is true that the distressing spirit that caused Saul to try to kill David came from the Lord, but it is also important to note that the distressing spirit only came when David had victories from God and was in the presence of Saul.
The scriptures clearly show a pattern in the life of Saul that caused him venture down the road of attempted murder. God would bring victory and success for Israel through David. Saul would not have any part in the work God did. Saul would then have the distressing spirit come upon him from the Lord, then desire to kill David. The common culprit in each of these instances was jealousy. Saul was jealous that David had the Spirit of God but he didn’t any more. Saul was jealous that David experienced the victories of the Lord as a direct instrument of valor, but Saul didn’t. Saul was jealous that the people revered David instead of him. Saul was jealous over the way God was using David because he wasn’t being used the same way. However, Saul never once acknowledged the righteousness of God according to the goodness of His work and the ways that He accomplishes it. Saul never sought to correct his attitude in repentance. Instead, Saul let this jealousy fester in his heart, which brought about bitterness.
Bitterness is a terrible spiritual-cancer that has brought down believers and non-believers alike. For the believer, bitterness can effect one’s connection to God in prayer and in the Word, and rob a child of God of the joy that He desires to provide. For the non-believer, bitterness can keep a person from repentance and salvation. Unfortunately, this was the case for Saul. Saul was so angry with the manner of God’s work through David, that instead of saying, “God help me,” his attitude reflected a heart that said, “God why him?” This attitude reveals a heart that refutes the goodness of God, the righteousness of God, and the holiness of God. This attitude reveals the heart of Satan himself as he looked unto the Lord and felt himself capable to do God’s job more sufficiently. Those who look unto God with such an attitude as Saul are those who despise the work of God, the means by which He does it, and feel they can do better.
This bitterness led Saul into a darker hole so that by the time the Lord sent the distressing spirit, Saul was well into “distress.” The scriptures do not show that the distressing spirit was the cause of Saul’s anxiety. The distressing spirit was the effect of Saul’s bitterness. God did not send the distressing spirit to destroy Saul’s life. God sent the distressing spirit to Saul to make manifest the bitterness that was already consuming Saul on account of jealousy. The distressing spirit simply amplified the darkness that already resided in the heart of Saul. God was not the cause. God was simply the One able to make the wickedness of Saul manifest in a way that was visible to everyone, so that when God brought judgment, his judgment was seen as right. The distressing spirit that God sent did not cause Saul to seek David’s life. The distressing spirit only made internal bitterness visible through outward hate. When Saul threw spears at David, it was only because he had harbored ungodly emotions, feelings and opinions that festered to the point of hate. God is not responsible for hate. He is only responsible for the unveiling of hateful hearts. Therefore, it is still up to the individual to repent from jealousy, bitterness, and hate so that one does not have to stand in shame before God when He eventually exposes the true nature of a heart that rebels against Him as He did with Saul.
Since the world is in constant turmoil, there are always clamors for peace. Consequently, there is seldom a shortage of ideas and proposals from men and women scheming to bring a form of peace that they believe satisfies the needs of the people desiring peace. History has shown that regardless of the intelligence and/or resources, peace is always elusive in this life. The chief problem with past efforts to bring peace is that they hardly ever consider the Lord God Almighty – Jesus Christ – who is the Prince of Peace. The scriptures plainly explain that Jesus is the administrator of peace, and the only way to know peace is to seek Him. The Bible teaches that people are to hear the claims of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, trust them as true, and submit to the righteous authority of Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah. While this might seem like an oppressive plan, this is only because Jesus alone is good. History has proven the Bible to be true in that mankind can only produce “thorns and thistles,” not fruit. Therefore, we as people are dependent on the Lord to provide His own goodness apart from the corruption of humanity. True peace can only come when His people consider His identity, His nature, and respond His convictions in humility.
As history provides ample examples of human folly apart from God, the history of the Bible also shows moments in which chaotic situations became peaceful, and the means by which that change took place. For example, in 1 Samuel 19:1-7 the Bible explains that king Saul really strived to destroy the life of David. Saul had tried to kill David himself by hurling spears at David when he was playing music. When Saul war reminded that the Lord was with David, he tried to use trickery to destroy David. Saul sent David out to fight against the Philistines, saying that if he could kill one hundred of them and bring back their foreskins, he would give his daughter to David as his wife, making David the son-in-law of the king of Israel. Saul figured that David would die trying to fight the Philistines, but he was wrong. David not only successfully fought the Philistines, but as the Lord was with him, he killed two hundred of them, and took Saul’s daughter as his wife.
Since Saul’s plans to kill David were not working, he essentially hired his servants as hit men against David. Saul was afraid of David because he knew the Lord was with David. Therefore, he was not willing to try and kill David himself, and instead told his servants that they needed to make efforts to kill David. When Saul told his servants this, Jonathan his son was present. The Bible explains that Jonathan and David had a deep friendship. Therefore, when Jonathan heard what his father was planning against David, Jonathan told David. Jonathan was willing to betray his father to do what was right and good for David. Jonathan was willing to make a stand for righteousness. He knew that his father’s desires were wicked and unjust. Jonathan knew that David didn’t deserve to die and that he was a helpful servant of the Lord. Hence, Jonathan did what needed to be done to preserve God’s righteousness according to His will.
When Saul was away, Jonathan called to David and explained his father’s plans. Jonathan helped David to hide and told David to find another place to stay for a while so that he could make efforts to talk his father out of his wicked desires. David was able to escape the plans of Saul again. This shows that when God has a plan for someone, He always provides the help that is necessary to accomplish the task. It might feel as if we are alone when called to do the Lord’s work, and that the world is against us, but the testimonies of scripture prove otherwise. God has made it so that each of His people has the help that is needed to do that which He has ordained. David had Jonathan as a good friend, committed to upholding the righteousness of God, even if he had to deny his own father to do so. God used Jonathan to preserve the life of David, and though it seems like a small matter, Jonathan’s intervention prolonged David’s life, ultimately allowing David to become the true king of Israel later in his life.
While David was away hiding, God used Jonathan to bring peace to the chaotic situation that Saul had caused. The scriptures testify that Saul and Jonathan were in the neighboring field where David was hiding when Jonathan spoke to his father on David’s behalf. He implored Saul to call off his men and his plans to kill David. Jonathan reminded Saul of the good things that God had done through David. Jonathan reminded Saul that David volunteered his life to fight against Goliath, and reminded Saul of the great victory that God brought as a result. Jonathan reminded Saul about how Saul even rejoiced over the victory that God brought through David. Jonathan reminded Saul that God delivered Israel through David and that God had only done good things by him. When Jonathan reminded his father of these things, he made sure to emphasize that, though these good things happened through the hands of David, God was the Author of the goodness. This was clear evidence that God desired to deliver His goodness to Israel through David. David was innocent. Jonathan asked his father, “Why then will you sin against innocent blood to kill David without a cause?”
The scriptures show that Saul was convicted by the words of his son. It was not just convicting to hear that David was innocent, but that God was using David to do good in Israel. Why would someone want to break the tool that God uses to do good? The point is, Jonathan reminded his father about the good works of God’s grace that were being done through David. Saul could not defeat Goliath, but Goliath was defeated. Saul could not deliver Israel from the Philistines, but Israel was delivered. Jonathan reminded Saul that God was responsible for both of these things and that David was an innocent tool God happened to be using. Considering this reality caused Saul to withdraw in his plan to kill David. The Bible explains that Saul swore to his son that David would not be killed. Consequently, David was allowed back into the court of Saul just as he had been before. The chaos that Saul caused momentarily subsided and it was the convictions that the testimony of God brought that caused peace. Jonathan’s reminders about who God was and the wonderful works He desired to do caused convictions in the heart of the one that caused chaos. Jonathan’s willingness to remind Saul of God’s grace brought peace for a moment. Jonathan’s willingness to stand up for righteousness (even against his own father) brought peace for a moment. When people desire peace, the focal point of the desire has to be centered on the Author of peace, and the people must submit in humility recognizing His grace.
When the Lord anoints His people for a purpose, He also provides the means by which they will accomplish that purpose. If God sets someone out to do something in His name and for His glory, He ensures that the person can get the job done so that He is glorified and His name exalted. God is not counting on the resolve of His people. God is not counting on the strength of His people. God is not counting on the clever ideas of His people. The Bible teaches that God provides His Spirit to equip and empower His people so that the responsibility ultimately falls upon the Lord to exalt His own name and glorify Himself. In fact, He is glorified in that He uses people that could not otherwise do much, yet the Holy Spirit is able to produce fruit that makes others marvel. It is the very work that God does through unqualified and unsuspecting people that brings attention to God as the Author and Enabler of the work. By extension, God’s name is exalted and His purpose is accomplished.
The testimony of king David is a good example of this reality. The Bible explains that David was engaged in a lot of sensational activity early on in his life, but wasn’t qualified to succeed in any of it. The Bible explains that when Samuel obeyed the command to anoint David as king of Israel, David was just a shepherd boy. When David fought Goliath, David was still a young shepherd boy, yet he was able to defeat the man that all of Israel was terrified of. David was able to escape the paw of the bear and lion, the sword of Goliath, and even the schemes of Saul. When considering these truths, it is important to recognize that David wasn’t really responsible for any of it. David attributed his victories over beasts and giants to the Lord. When David had to start dealing with Saul, the scriptures do not mention that David formulated clever plans to escape the wicked traps that Saul tried to set. The point is, God had a plan and a purpose for David to be the king of Israel according to the promises of Messiah. David would be the first in the line of Judah to serve as the true king of Israel so that his line would lead to the birth of the Savior and King of kings. Therefore, God did what needed to be done to ensure that David fulfilled that purpose, regardless of threats, plots, schemes, or other dangers. God provided for David the things he needed to fulfill God’s purposes. God protected David to fulfill God’s purposes.
In 1 Samuel 18:17-30 the Bible shows that God helped David in these ways. Saul’s jealousy of David motivated him to take extra steps to rid of David. However, since Saul knew that the Lord was with David, he was afraid to lay his own hand against David. Therefore, Saul thought it was clever to try and orchestrate circumstances that would put David in compromised positions in battle so that David might die by the hands of Israel’s enemies rather than by Saul’s own hand. Saul figured he could trick God and overcome the protection He gave to David by doing this. Thus, the scriptures show that Saul sought to bait David into a battle by offering up his daughter in marriage. Saul told David that if he would go out and fight the Philistines on behalf of Saul, he would be permitted to marry the oldest daughter of Saul. David was extremely humbled by the idea of being married into the first royal family of Israel. David was honored to be considered as a candidate to be the son-in-law of the king of Israel. Saul on the other hand was displaying the extent of his wickedness and hate for David. When Saul was anointed as king, he was anointed as the one to lead Israel into battle and bring victory. Yet Saul was seeking to forfeit this responsibility over to David in hopes that the responsibility would be the demise of David. While Saul feared David taking the kingship away from him, the Bible shows that Saul worked hard to forfeit the kingship.
Saul made arrangements to give his first daughter Merab to David as a wife. However, on the day that she was to be given to David, something happened so that she was actually given to another man. In that moment, one of Saul’s other daughters expressed that she actually loved David greatly. When word got back to Saul, he was delighted. Saul figured that the love his daughter had for David would serve as the perfect trap to entice David into battles that would kill him at some point. Therefore, Saul made efforts to prepare his daughter Michal for David. Once again, David was humbled by the idea of being the king’s son-in-law. Yet there was another matter that humbled David as well. Traditionally when a man took on a wife, his family would give a dowry to the father of the bride. David confessed that as a young boy from a poor family, he did not have a dowry worthy of the king of Israel to give to him. Saul was able to overcome this objection. Saul saw this as an opportunity to scheme David into peril. Saul told David that he would not have to give a dowry for Michal, but instead asked for one hundred foreskins of Philistine men. Saul figured that David would certainly die trying to kill one hundred Philistines to collect the foreskins of those men.
The scriptures explain that David took on the challenge, and since the Lord was with him, David was able to quickly collect two hundred Philistine foreskins! The Bible testifies that David did so in a short matter of time, and then brought them before Saul, counting each and every one in his presence. Saul was at a loss. Saul figured his scheme would be sufficient to put David to death, yet David survived and came back with an excessive abundance. Saul figured his scheme to present impossible circumstances for David and figured David would die trying to accomplish the feat. Nevertheless, the Lord was indeed with David to provide protection and the abundance that he later brought to Saul. The scriptures state that at that moment, Saul understood well that the Lord was with David. It was the protection and the provision that God gave that served as evidence that God had great purposes for David so that the schemes of men would not be able to thwart them.
Saul was then forced to give his daughter Michal to David as a wife. When Saul’s plan failed, the scriptures show that Saul grew even more afraid of David. It was painfully clear to Saul that God was deeply involved in the life of David and there was nothing he could really do about it. It was clear that God had a plan and purpose for David. It was clear that David was near and dear to the heart of the Lord God Almighty. Yet the Bible never shows that David did anything to warrant this favor from God. In fact, the Bible shows that David was undeserving and without merits, showing that God’s favor poured upon David was in the form of grace. God’s selection of David to be the first king from the line of Judah to kick off the Messianic kingship was based on grace. David’s humility allowed God’s grace to be seen in miraculous ways. It is not the efforts of men and women that inspire God to provide and protect. God provides and protects according to His pre-determined will and purposes for each individual. Unfortunately, not all are called to be king David. However, the provision and protection that God graciously gives is magnified by the humility of the people He calls according to His purposes. The testimony of David shows that the name and presence of God is exalted, not by the intelligence and strength of people, but by the wisdom and courage that God provides in grace.
The Bible shows that there is usually a stark difference in conduct and temperament between the people of God that are filled with His Spirit, and those who are not, filled with other sorts of spirits. The New Covenant promises of God as outlined in Jeremiah Chapter 31 explain that God swore upon Himself to fulfill His eternally unconditional promises to Israel and the world concerning sin, by replacing the hearts of His people. He promised that He would replace sinful hearts with a heart that resembles His own so that His Spirit can take up residence from within His people. This means that those who receive the Spirit of God (by faith, and faith alone) will actually have the essence of God dwelling within them. There most certainly should be a difference between the children of God and those who do not possess His Spirit! Thus, the true children of God should live in manners that dramatically contrast the everyday person that does not believe.
The testimonies of Saul and David show that this contrast and difference in temperament and character are real. The Bible explains that, though the Spirit of God dwelt within Saul for a time, his rejection of God caused the Spirit to depart. Instead, the Bible explains that God filled Saul with a “distressing spirit.” Rather than the Holy Spirit, Saul had a spirit within him that caused great anxiety, stress, frustration, jealousy, uneasiness, and unjustified anger. God exercised His sovereignty over the heavens and the earth to bring torment against Saul since Saul rejected God. In contrast, the Bible explains that David was filled with the Spirit of God. The humility and meekness that David displayed was inviting to the Holy Spirit so that even before God’s New Covenant promises were proclaimed, David resembled a beneficiary of the Lord’s promises.
In 1 Samuel 18:10-16 the Bible explains that Saul did not respond kindly to the affection and popularity that David was receiving. The song of celebration that the women sang really got under Saul’s skin. The people sang about Saul slaying thousands of enemies, but David slaying tens of thousands. Saul grew very jealous. The jealous anger that Saul fostered caused God to send the distressing spirit against him again. This shows that, while God exercised His authority to bring torments against Saul, God only brought Saul that which he wanted. Saul did not seek repentance from jealousy and anger. Saul harbored ungodly feelings and was overrun by his emotion and didn’t seek the Lord. Before the distressing spirit came, Saul was distressed. The distressing spirit was only a spiritual response to the wickedness Saul already had, thereby making Saul’s wickedness evident to everyone. God used the distressing spirit to make the darkness of Saul apparent to everyone around him, exposing the evil heart that only God could see.
The scriptures state that David sought to help. As was the custom, when the distressing spirit would come upon Saul, David would play his harp to try to sooth the mind of Saul. This is another important detail to consider. The popularity that David was receiving did not change David’s heart, character, or temperament. Though David slayed Goliath, he continued to serve the king – even though he was the true anointed king. Though Israel sang songs about the victory that God brought through David, he continued to serve the king. Though David was put in charge of the Israelite army to charge the Philistines, he continued to serve the king. It is true that David had great success as a beneficiary of the work that God had done. However, David didn’t have the expectation of God providing even more increase and promotion. David didn’t resent his position playing music for Saul just because he had become a war hero. David continued to humbly perform the duties that he had before the victories until God told him otherwise.
While David played his music, Saul’s anger and jealousy consumed him. The Bible testifies that Saul, having a spear in his hand, hurled it at David. Though David sought to bring comfort to David, the scriptures explain that Saul tried to kill David by pinning him to a wall with a spear! David was able to escape, but the scriptures provide more subtle details that testify of the extent of David’s humility and patience as a result of being filled with God’s Spirit. The Bible declares that Saul tried to kill David in this manner twice. David escaped both times. This means that David went back to serve Saul after Saul had tried to kill him! David didn’t seek to escape. David didn’t seek to retaliate. David stayed a servant of the king until He was unable to be a servant of the king. David was not afraid of Saul. David was not afraid of the spirit that drove Saul to this insanity. David was diligent to serve in whatever capacity he was called and did so with the utmost integrity and boldness.
Ironically, the Bible explains that Saul was the one that was afraid. Saul recognized that the Lord was with David; and also recognized that the Lord was no longer with him. This made Saul fearful. This is what provoked Saul to try to kill David. This made Saul even crazier about David and so Saul commanded that David leave his presence. David was not allowed to play music before Saul anymore. David was not allowed to be in front of Saul’s face anymore. Though David was filled with the Lord, Saul wanted David to go. This is persecution in its most literal form. While David was pleasing to the Lord, the Lord’s presence in David caused him to be unpleasing in the eyes of those without the Lord. The Bible shows that those without the Lord often find those with the Lord as threatening. They can see the power and strength of God, know it to be superior, and quickly become intimidated and paranoid. This was the case with Saul, and so David was sent away with different duties. Rather than serve the king directly, David was put in charge of one thousand men as a captain.
David submitted to his new duties. The Bible does not show that David expressed any complaints. The Bible does not show that David expressed any bitterness. Rather, the Bible explains that David conducted himself wisely. The original Hebrew language teaches that David was prudent, and careful in his judgment. The original language expresses that David was considerate of all of his circumstances and careful in his responses towards them to ensure that he remained with Godly integrity and humility. While Saul was impulsive in response to his jealous anger, David was calm and calculated. Saul was afraid and paranoid. David was diligent and focused. This difference in conduct, attitude, and character did not go unnoticed. The Bible states that the people of Israel and Judah grew in love for David. They appreciated his leadership through humility. They were attracted to the wisdom that he demonstrated on account of God being with Him. In contrast, Saul grew more isolated from the people. Those without the Lord eventually find that they are segregated from the unifying and joyous work of the Lord. Though David was persecuted by Saul and threats were made against his life, those who seek the Lord and His righteousness are always comforted and strengthened in humility, wisdom, and exalted as instruments of righteousness.