The Pressure To Compromise, Part I
Updated: Jul 28, 2020
“1 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.’ 2 So David arose and went over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to Achish the son of Maoch, king of Gath. 3 And David lived with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, and David with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail of Carmel, Nabal’s widow. 4 And when it was told Saul that David had fled to Gath, he no longer sought him.”
I Samuel 27:1-4 ESV
Some of the things that we’ll do under pressure can truly be mind-bottling, even shocking to a point because we probably never thought we’d be able or willing to do such things under normal circumstances! That’s just it, however: being under pressure can cause us to see situations from a perspective that is often characterized by fear and panic, which as a result doesn't fall under the category of “normal circumstances”. World-renowned psychologist Dr. Hendrie Weisinger, Ph.D., describes pressure as “a situation in which you perceive that something at stake is dependent on the outcome of your performance” (Morin, 2015).
How many times have you found yourself in the middle of a situation where the recovery of something that you perceived to be at risk or in jeopardy was dependent on the outcome of your actions? Let’s take it one huge step further: in those situations, how often did you resort to compromising your convictions in an attempt to rescue whatever you perceived to be at risk? Dr. Charles Stanley, the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia and President/Founder of InTouch Ministries, offers some profound revelation regarding compromise in this statement: “What believers…”, and people in general, “…often don’t realize is that the journey from ‘I’d never’ to ‘I did’ is made up of small steps, each one a compromise” (Stanley, 2019).
King David, one of the most notable men in Biblical history, always seemed to be under pressure, especially during his young adult life. Having been anointed as the next king of Israel by the prophet Samuel and having defeated the Philistine giant Goliath with one divine blow to the head, David quickly became the prime target of the man who was sitting on his future throne at the time: King Saul, whom God had already rejected as King! From I Samuel 19 to 27, David was constantly on the run from King Saul and his army who ruthlessly set their sights on killing him! In I Samuel 24 and 26, respectively, David is presented with two separate opportunities to kill King Saul! However, David spares Saul’s life on both occasions, recognizing that Saul was still the Lord’s anointed, despite his attempts to kill him! Following David’s second sparing of Saul's life, Saul tells David, “Blessed be you, my son David! You will do many things and will succeed in them” (cf. I Samuel 26:25).
Although these words from Saul seemed encouraging and relieving, David was not convinced that he was safe from his wrath (“Then David said in his heart, ‘Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul”). He was sure that as long as he was still alive, Saul would continue to pursue him. As a result, David convinced himself that his best option was to hide from Saul in the land of the Philistines (“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 his hand”).
In I Samuel 17, we learn that the Israelites and the Philistines were sworn enemies! It was these two nations who were at war against each other when David arrived on the scene to deliver food to his brothers and ultimately ended up challenging the Philistine giant Goliath to battle! Therefore, David decided to settle in the land of his nation’s fiercest enemy in order to escape who he believed to be his greatest enemy. Well, David wasn’t entirely wrong in his logic; when Saul was informed that David had fled to Gath, a city located in the heart of the region of Philistia, Saul stopped searching for him (“And when it was told Saul that David fled to Gath, he no longer sought him”). Although David was now safe from Saul, he was now living in the land of the Philistines, the enemy's territory!
God delivered David from the hand of the lion and the bear as he fought to protect his sheep from being slaughtered. God delivered David from the hand of Goliath while on the battlefield. God delivered David from King Saul’s numerous attempts to kill him. Yet on this occasion, the psalmist who confidently wrote: “The Lord is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear?” (cf. Psalm 27:1) and “The Lord is my rock and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge…” (cf. Psalm 18:2) sought refuge in the enemy’s camp rather than the Lord.
It’s not that David didn’t know what to do or who to turn to; he simply chose not to do what he knew was right! He yielded to the pressure of the ongoing threat from Saul, believing that the preservation of his life was dependent on his decision to settle in Gath with King Achish. Rather than inquire the Lord for his next set of instructions as he did in I Samuel 23, the future king of Israel leaned to his own understanding by choosing to settle in the enemy’s camp and feigning allegiance to them. Although Saul eventually stopped searching for him, David’s resort to living in Gath with the Philistines ultimately demonstrated a lack of trust in the Lord to protect and preserve him, even in the aftermath of sparing Saul’s life once again.
Oftentimes what appears to be the only perceivable way to escape a difficult situation may require you to sin, to violate godly principles and or compromise the convictions of your faith as a believer. Do not yield to the pressure! Do not yield to the fear of man! Be encouraged with the words of the apostle Paul: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (cf. I Corinthians 10:13).
When you choose to take the Lord’s way of escape, not only will you find refuge, but you also won’t have to compromise your faith to enjoy the safety that it provides! As previously stated, the journey from “I’d never” to “I did” is comprised of numerous steps, each one representing a departure from the truth and your determination to obey the truth. Next week, we’ll see how David’s initial decision to flee and settle in the land of the Philistines resulted in a series of decisions that were contrary to his character, for a lie cannot be maintained without telling additional supporting lies!
Morin, A. (2015, March 18). Your Failure To Differentiate Stress From Pressure Could Be Your Downfall. Retrieved from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2015/03/18/your-failure-to-differentiate-stress-from-pressure-could-be-your-downfall/#14e1e19f3a32
Stanley, C. F. (2019, November 12). The High Cost of Compromise. Retrieved from In Touch Ministries: https://www.intouch.org/read/magazine/daily-devotions/the-high-cost-of-comprmise