1 Samuel 27
But David kept thinking to himself, "Someday Saul is going to get me. The best thing for me to do is escape to the Philistines. Then Saul will stop hunting for me, and I will finally be safe." – 1 Samuel 27:1 NLT
Consulting with yourself can be hazardous to your health. When we stop talking to God and start taking advice from ourselves, it usually doesn't end well. And it usually starts with a little doubt. We begin to wonder if God is really going to take care of us. Is He really going to come through and accomplish all He has promised? Things start going a little south and we decide that God is either not there or He doesn't care, so we take matters into our own hands. Our doubt leads us to despair. That's what seems to have happened to David in this chapter. Listen to what he says: "Someday Saul is going to get me." David had been running and hiding for some time now. He was tired. He was frustrated. And in spite of the fact that he had been anointed by Samuel as the next king of Israel, and had seen God preserve his life from Saul time and time again, he began to conclude that he was going to die someday at the hands of Saul. He doubted God's word. His doubt led to despair. His despair led to a really poor decision. He and his men return to Gath – the hometown of Goliath – the man David had killed. David is so down that his decision to go find refuge with the enemy sounded plausible and preferable to running from Saul. David seemed to forget his last experience in Gath when he had to pretend he was certifiably crazy just to escape. No, David consults with himself and comes up with the great idea to flee to the Philistines for safety.
Nowhere in this chapter do you see the name of God. David doesn't consult with God as he has done before. He doesn't seek God's advice or counsel. David had concluded that he was going to die if he stayed in the land of Judah, in spite of the promises of God and His prophet. David was human. He wasn't divine. His life as a fugitive had taken its toll. He couldn't see any other way out of his circumstance, so he made a decision. But it does not appear that his was the decision God wanted him to make. Yet in spite of his ill-conceived, self-determined plan, God remained with him. God continued to use him. David may have suffered a lapse of faith, but he was still committed to God and His cause.
David's doubt led to despair. His despair led to a poor decision. And that decision led to a life of deception. In order for David to remain in the land of the Philistines, he had to deceive king Achish into believing he was on his side. Yet David also wanted to remain true to his God. King Achish seems to have agreed to let David and his 600 warriors remain in his land because he was convinced that David had turned against Saul. Achish believed that David and his men would fight against Saul and the people of Israel because they were now sworn enemies of Saul. And David was willing to give Achish's conclusion support. He asks king Achish to give him a town in which to live with his men, and the king gives him the town of Ziklag. David uses a false humility as his rationale for moving out of the royal city. But his real motive was to use Ziklag as a base of operations to run raids into the land of Judah to fight against Israel's enemies. For almost a year and a half, David kept up a deception that led Achish to believe he was attacking Israelite cities, while in reality, David was wiping out the enemies of Israel. In fact, David was accomplishing the will of God. He was clearing the Promised Land of the enemy just as God had commanded and the people had failed to do all these years. But David was mixing his obedience with deception. He was doing God's will, but in his own way. Always a dangerous combination.
David would experience a measure of success with his plan. He would escape the constant threat of Saul. He would successfully wipe out the enemies of Israel. But he would also have to live a life for almost a year and a half. And as we will find out, his decision would ultimately result in destruction. God's will done man's way never ends well. David's compromise with the enemy was going to have negative ramifications. He may have escaped Saul, but he was not going to escape the results of his god-less decision. Seeking God's will is always the best way. Leaning on our own understanding is always dangerous. Allowing our doubt to led to despair will always result in a life of deception and end in destruction.
Father, I have seen time and time again in my life where my doubt in You has caused me to despair and then it has led me to make self-conceived plans that never end up turning out quite like I had planned. Help me to trust You at all times. But thank You that even when I doubt and make bad plans, You never leave me. You let me learn from my mistakes. You teach me to trust You more by exposing that I can't be trusted. My ways are not Your ways. My plans will never measure up to Yours. Amen