July 16, 2015

Between a rock and a hard place

1 Samuel 28:1–29:11, 1 Peter 2:13–17, Psalm 130:1–131:3

Saul displeased the Lord, but David was cared for and protected. These two men were both sinners, yet there was something about their hearts . . .

Saul did some things right, but it was not with sincerity or a full heart. After Samuel had died, Saul had put the mediums and the necromancers out of the land. Then the Philistines assembled and when he saw their army, he was terrified. He inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. So what did he do? Instead of waiting on the Lord until He answered, Saul sent his servants to find a medium so he could find out what God had not told him. (1 Samuel 28:3–7)

This medium somehow conjured up Samuel. Saul told him of his distress and that God had turned away from him. Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has turned from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done to you as he spoke by me, for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David. Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you this day. Moreover, the Lord will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me. The Lord will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.” (1 Samuel 28:15–19)

David seemed to be doing something wrong also. He had fled to the land of the Philistines seeking protection. He found it under a man named Achish who soon trusted him as a friend. Now the Philistine army was going to attack Israel. David was with them. Would he attack his own people? Would he rise up against Achish who had taken care of him? David was between the proverbial rock and hard place.

God came to his rescue. The commanders of the Philistines said, “What are these Hebrews doing here?” And Achish said to the commanders of the Philistines, “Is this not David, the servant of Saul, king of Israel, who has been with me now for days and years, and since he deserted to me I have found no fault in him to this day.”

The Philistine commanders were angry and made Achish send David and his men back. They said, “He shall not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he become an adversary to us. For how could this fellow reconcile himself to his lord? Would it not be with the heads of the men here?” (1 Samuel 29:2–4)

By their decision, David did not have to make a dire decision. He respected Achish, loved his people Israel, but also respected and bowed to the Word of the Lord.

The NT reading reveals much about the attitude of godly people, like David. It says, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:13–17) His obedience to God was not mere show, but from the heart. He honored Saul, and his own people, but also the authority of the Philistine who protected him, and God honored his heart.

Even the reading from the psalms ties into the way David trusted the Lord. He was not like Saul, impatient and taking matters into his own hands. He was like Jesus who fully trusted His Father in heaven. He could say, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.” (Psalm 130:5)

Whether I get into such a predicament or not, trusting the Lord is always the right decision. He is the only one who can move both rocks and hard places.

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