1 Samuel 27-28, Romans 16
Then David said in his heart, “Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand.” – 1 Samuel 27: ESV
Even the godly, when they find themselves in difficult circumstances, can come up with ungodly plans. And what makes their plans ungodly is that they lack God's blessing or approval. They may sound wise and appear legitimate, but if any plans we develop are done so apart from God, they will always lead to future trouble. In these two chapters in 1 Samuel, we find both David and Saul coming up with their own solutions to their problems, apart from God. Each found himself in a tough spot and, driven by fear and a sense of panic, developed his own remedy to his predicament. David, while he was a man after God's own heart, eventually lost heart and wrongly concluded that, “I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul” (1 Samuel 27:1 ESV). Even though God had clearly chosen and ordained him as the next king of Israel, David had finally lost hope. He figured that his ongoing exile and life as a man on the run was going to end in his death at the hand of Saul. So he came up with a solution. He developed a plan. Saul, when faced with the prospect going up against a superior Philistine force, first turned to God for counsel. But when God refused to answer, he sought the help of a necromancer, a witch. He came up with a work-around in order to get the help he desperately needed.
What does this passage reveal about God?
While neither David or Saul were operating out of divine inspiration, God was still in control of the circumstances. Their unwillingness or inability to know God's will did not diminish in any way the fact that God's will was going to be done in their lives. While David had lost hope and was convinced that he was going to be a dead man if he didn't do something quick, God was not in a panic. He knew exactly what was going to happen. He was in complete charge or David's life and future. Even David's poor planning could not stop the divine will of God for his life. Saul, unable to hear from God, decided to do the unthinkable. He sought out the services of a witch, a woman who made her living communicating with the dead. Saul desperately wanted to know what to do, so he willingly broke the law of God in order to try and communicate with Samuel, the dead prophet of God. And God let it happen. The witch, much to her own surprise, was able to call up Samuel, and the prophet gave Saul a very clear picture of what was going to happen to he and his sons. God was in control. At no point in the story did He ever lose control. So while both David and Saul felt like God was nowhere to be found, He was there. He was working. He was fully in control of the circumstances.
What does this passage reveal about man?
When we take matters into our own hands, it almost always involves compromise, lying and deceit. Our plans, when developed without God's input, tend to require us to compromise our convictions or to go against God's revealed will for our lives. We can find ourselves fraternizing with the enemy. In David's case, his plan involved living with the Philistines, the enemies of Israel and of God. Rather than warring against the enemies of God, David found himself living with them. He became the personal body guard for the king of the Philistines. Saul fraternized with the enemy of God, Satan himself, by seeking out the services of a witch. The law of God had strictly forbidden such activity. In fact, the passage makes it clear that Saul was to have removed all such individuals from the land. But obviously, he had not done so.
But not only will our plans tend to cause us to fraternize with the enemy and compromise our convictions, they will almost always result in lying and deception. David had to lie to King Achish in order to conceal what he was doing. He had to cover his tracks and hide his real motives. But eventually his actions were exposed. The day came when David's ruse was uncovered. His original plan to seek refuge among the enemies of God put him in a difficult spot. He was going to have to fight with the Philistines against His own people or have his whole plan unravel before his eyes. Saul disobeyed the will of God and sought out the services of a witch. In order to do so, he had to come up with a plan that involved deception and lies. He couldn't just admit that he was seeking out a necromancer. So he disguised himself. He lied. He deceived. But his actions got exposed. And the news he eventually received was as bad as it could have been.
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
Any plans I make apart from God will always lead to some form of compromise. They will eventually involve deception and require me to lie, either to myself or others. Self-deceit is one of the hallmark characteristics of plans made without God's help. I can deceive myself into thinking that I am doing the right thing. I can then find myself twisting the facts in order to get others to agree with me and see my plan as wise and godly. But if my plans lack God's input or blessing, they are ungodly by nature. Paul wrote to the Romans, “For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil” (Romans 16:19 ESV). Paul was commending their reputation for obedience to God. But he reminds them that the real issue was that they be wise as to what is good. He wanted them to know what God's will was for their lives. He wanted them to obey God by doing what God deemed to be good. He wanted them to be innocent of evil. In other words, he wanted them to refrain from doing what was not in God's will for them. The evil they were to be innocent of was doing anything contrary to the will of God. When we make plans apart from God, we are doing what is evil. We are compromising our convictions and deceiving ourselves and others into thinking that what we are doing is good. We lie to ourselves and allow the enemy to lie to us. When all is said and done, God wants His will done, not ours. He wants us to seek His wisdom, not lean on our own. And while it is clear that His will always gets accomplished, either with us or without us, He still prefers that we walk in obedience to Him. Our compromises always have consequences. Our deception always leads to discipline at His hands. It is far better to trust Him than to attempt to develop plans apart from Him.
Father, I find it far to easy to come up with my own plans rather than wait for Yours to be fulfilled. Sometimes it seems as if You are silent. So when I don't hear from You, I act. Other times I don't even bother to ask You what Your will is in a given circumstance. I just launch out on my own. Then I justify my actions and usually end up having to compromise my convictions. Forgive me. Help me to trust You more. He me to wait on You longer. Your will and Your plans are always better in the long run. Amen