Updated: Jun 1, 2021
This Week's Scripture & Reflection: I Samuel 27:8-12
Have you ever told a lie, and then proceeded to tell another lie, and another one after that to maintain the “truth” of the previous two lies that you told? If that sounds exhausting, it’s because it is! The more you lie, the more you continue to sink into a hole of deception that can seem impossible to escape! Maintaining a successful succession of lies actually requires much more effort and analytical thinking than simply telling the truth. While telling the truth in a particular situation may be difficult or even life-threatening, it arguably does not compare to carrying the weight of deception.
In last week’s devotional, we discussed the correlation between pressure and compromise, specifically how being under pressure in certain situations can cause you to compromise your convictions, beliefs, and ultimately your character! Before he officially occupied the throne, a young David found himself under constant pressure from King Saul who was desperately trying to kill him. Even after being presented with two prime opportunities to kill King Saul, David refused to do so, recognizing that Saul was still God’s anointed one. After David spares Saul’s life for a second time, Saul offers him some flattering encouragement, but David remains convinced that Saul will continue to pursue him as long as he is alive. Therefore, David, an Israelite, decides to settle himself, his two wives, and an accompanying army of 600 men in a city called Gath, which is located in the region of Philistia, one of Israel’s sworn enemies.
In Samuel 17, David boldly stood against Goliath, the Philistines' fiercest warrior, and defeated him! Fast forward to Chapter 27, David is now living in the land of the Philistines, the enemy’s territory. According to David’s logic, Saul would stop searching for him to kill him if he knew that David was residing in the land of the Philistines. Fortunately for David, his logic proved to be correct; once Saul received word that David had fled to Gath, he stopped searching for him. Although the immediate threat of Saul has been eliminated, David now finds himself in a comprising situation living in the land of his country’s sworn enemy and feigning allegiance to Achish, the king of Gath (if you haven't already, read last week's devotional, "The Pressure To Compromise, Part I" to read the full background of this account!)
Although he is still truly fighting on behalf of Israel, David gives Achish the false impression that he has transferred allegiance from Israel to Philistia, not only to maintain his residence in Gath, but ultimately to preserve his life. On a normal day, David would venture out with his army and raid the territories of the enemies of Israel (“Now David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites [the enemies of Israel that Joshua had failed to annihilate] ...but he took the sheep, the cattle, the donkeys, the camels, and the clothing…”). When David would return to Gath, King Achish would ask him which regions he’d raided, to which David would lie, saying that he raided regions of Israel, more specifically the land of Judah (“When Achish asked, “Where did you raid today?” David replied, “Against the Negev (the South country) of Judah, and against the Negev of the Jerahmeelites, and against the Negev of the Kenites”).
Not only did David raid the territories of the enemies of Israel, but he also purposefully killed everyone residing in those territories so that no one would be able to travel to Gath and inform Achish of what he was really doing (“David did not leave a man or a woman alive to bring news to Gath, saying [to himself], “Otherwise they will tell about us, saying, ‘This is what David has done, and this has been his practice all the time that he has lived in the country of the Philistines.) Had Achish discovered that David was actually raiding and killing Israel’s enemies instead of Israel itself, David could have been killed. However, Achish believed David’s lies and was convinced that he would serve him permanently moving forward (“Achish believed David, saying, “He has certainly become hated by his people in Israel; so he will always be my servant.”)
Without question, David knew the Lord to be a Deliverer: lions and bears, Goliath the Philistine giant, King Saul; his testimonies of the Lord’s faithfulness in the Psalms are definitely experiential. Having been on the run for the majority of his young life, however, we can strongly surmise that David gradually grew tired of running. He wanted to be able to live in peace without his life constantly being threatened. While David’s desire for rest and relief from his enemies was pure and justified, he placed himself in an even more stressful situation by not only hiding out in the enemy’s territory, but also feigning allegiance to the enemy. What could be more mentally exhausting than living life on the run? Living a double-life! We cannot say for certain where the Lord would have sent David had he sought Him first after he spared King Saul’s life for a second time, but He surely wouldn’t have sent David to seek refuge in the enemy’s camp and live a life of deception to preserve his livelihood!
As believers, every decision that we make requires us to trust God and seek Him for direction! At times, it may be tempting to “take a break” from following His lead and follow the plan that we’ve developed in our minds based on our own understanding of the situation. However, that’s just it: our understanding apart from His inspiration and revelation is limited, which can lead us to make decisions that may possibly resolve an immediate issue, but could also potentially put us in more stressful and troubling positions than before. That’s why Solomon instructs his son to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (cf. Proverbs 3:5-6).
Exhaustion can also lead us to make unwise decisions, which is why Jesus instructs “all who are weary and burdened” to come to Him so that He can give us rest (cf. Matthew 11:28)! Rest is essential to making wise decisions; it renews our mind and re-centers our focus on the One we know is able to deliver, but also keep and sustain us in the midst of any situation! In our pursuit of resolution, we must remain diligent to refrain from yielding to the pressure to compromise our godly convictions and character. What we see as a quick solution to a problem from a carnal perspective could actually be the first step in a long line of decisions that can and will lead us on a journey from “I’d never do that” to “I did it”, if we don’t remain steadfast in the conviction of our faith.
It is never God’s will that we compromise our identity as His children and representatives for the sake of our livelihood. Both honesty and an unwavering commitment to defend and live according to the truth of His Word honor the Lord, not deception. The good news is that God’s mercy and grace extend to us no matter how far we’ve strayed away from His will. Not only does His grace and mercy extend to us, but they also lead us back to Him in repentance and renewal of the mind. Be sure to join us next Monday as we discuss David's return to the Lord!