Have you ever experienced emptied promises? Could you initially detect the ulterior motives? At times it is hard to think that some one you thought were loyal eventually becomes your disguised enemy.
Let us allow David to tell us about his painful experiences:
An attachment for me on the part of Michal, Saul’s youngest daughter, afforded the king another opportunity to plot against me, his rival. Michal’s hand had offered me on condition that evidence should be given of the defeat and slaughter of a specified number of our national foes.
Saul thought to make me fall by the hand of the Philistines, but God shielded me. I returned a victor from the battle, to become the king’s son-in-law. “Michal Saul’s daughter loved me,” and the monarch, enraged, saw that his plots had resulted in the elevation of me whom he sought to destroy.
He was still more assured that this was the man whom the Lord had said was better than he, and who should reign on the throne of Israel in his place. Throwing off all disguise, he issued a command to Jonathan and to the officers of the court to take the life of the one he hated.
Has this ever happened to you? Rejection is one of those experiences that devastate a person.
Jonathan revealed the king’s intention to me and told me to conceal himself while he would plead with his father to spare my life, the one who delivered Israel. He presented before the king what Iad done to preserve the honour and even the life of the nation, and what terrible guilt would rest upon the murderer of the one whom God had used to scatter their enemies.
The conscience of the king was touched, and his heart was softened. “And Saul swore, As the Lord lives he shall not be slain.” I was brought to Saul, and I ministered in his presence, as I had done in the past.
Again war was declared between the Israelites and the Philistines, and Ied the army against their enemies. A great victory was gained by the Hebrews, and the people of the realm praised my wisdom and heroism.
This served to stir up the former bitterness of Saul against me. While I was playing before the king, filling the palace with sweet harmony, Saul’s passion overcame him, and he hurled a javelin at me, thinking to pin me to the wall. Fortunately, the angel of the Lord turned aside the deadly weapon. I escaped and fled to my own house. Saul sent spies that they might take me as I should come out in the morning and put an end to my life.
Michal informed me of the purpose of her father. She urged me to flee for my life, and let me down from the window, thus enabling me to make my escape. I fled to Samuel at Ramah, and the prophet, fearless of the king’s displeasure, welcomed me, the fugitive.
The home of Samuel was a peaceful place in contrast with the royal palace. It was here, amid the hills, that the honoured servant of the Lord continued his work. A company of seers was with him, and they studied closely the will of God and listened reverently to the words of instruction that fell from the lips of Samuel.
Precious were the lessons that I learned from the teacher of Israel.
I believed that the troops of Saul would not be ordered to invade this sacred place, but no place seemed to be sacred to the darkened mind of the desperate king. My connection with Samuel aroused the jealousy of the king, lest he who was revered as a prophet of God throughout all Israel should lend his influence on the advancement of Saul’s rival.
When the king learned where I was, he sent officers to bring me to Gibeah, where he intended to carry out his murderous design.
The messengers went on their way, intent upon taking my life; but One greater than Saul controlled them. They were met by unseen angels, as was Balaam when he was on his way to curse Israel. They began to utter prophetic sayings of what would occur in the future, and proclaimed the glory and majesty of Jehovah. Thus, God overruled the wrath of man and manifested His power to restrain evil, while He walled in His servant by a guard of angels. And all I can say is: Thank you Lord.
The tidings reached Saul as he eagerly waited to have me in his power; but instead of feeling the rebuke of God, he was still more exasperated, and sent other messengers. These also were overpowered by the Spirit of God, and united with the first in prophesying.
The third delegation was sent by the king; but when they came into the company of the prophets, the divine influence fell upon them also, and they prophesied. Saul then decided that he himself would go, for his fierce enmity had become uncontrollable.
He was determined to wait for no further chance to kill me. As soon as he should come within reach of, he intended with his own hand to slay, whatever might be the consequences.
But an angel of God met him on the way and controlled him. The Spirit of God held him in Its power, and he went forward uttering prayers to God, interspersed with predictions and sacred melodies. He prophesied of the coming Messiah as the world’s Redeemer.
When he came to the prophet’s home in Ramah, he laid aside the outer garments that betokened his rank, and all day and all night he lay before Samuel and his pupils, under the influence of the divine Spirit.
Here in Jerusalem at the end of my life, the memorable protection of that day brings peace to my heart. My dear friend. We serve a gracious, protective and an extremely loving, caring saving God.
The people were drawn together to witness this strange scene, and the experience of the king was reported far and wide. Thus again, near the close of his reign, it became a proverb in Israel that Saul also was among the prophets.
Again, Saul the persecutor was defeated in his purpose. He assured me that he was at peace with me, but I had little confidence in the king’s repentance. I took this opportunity to escape, lest the mood of the king should change, as formerly.
My heart was wounded within him, and he longed to see my friend Jonathan once more. Conscious of my innocence, I sought the king’s son and made a most touching appeal. “What have I done?” I asked, “what is my iniquity? and what is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life?”
Jonathan believed that his father had changed his purpose and no longer intended to take my life. And Jonathan said unto me: “God forbid; you shall shall not die: behold, my father will do nothing either great or small, but that he will show it me: and why should my father hide this thing from me? It is not so.”
After the remarkable exhibition of the power of God, Jonathan could not believe that his father would still harm me, since this would be manifest rebellion against God. But I was not convinced. With intense earnestness I declared to Jonathan, “As the Lord lives and as your soul lives, there is but a step between me and death.”
At the time of the new moon a sacred festival was celebrated in Israel. This festival recurred upon the day following the interview between me and Jonathan. At this feast it was expected that both the young men would appear at the king’s table; but I feared to be present, and it was arranged that I should visit my brothers in Bethlehem.
On my return I was to hide myself in a field not far from the banqueting hall, for three days absenting myself from the presence of the king; and Jonathan would note the effect upon Saul. If inquiry should be made as to the whereabouts of the son of Jesse, Jonathan was to say that he had gone home to attend the sacrifice offered by his father’s household.
If no angry demonstrations were made by the king, but he should answer, “It is well,” then it would be safe for me to return to the court. But if he should become enraged at my absence, it would flee.
On the first day of the feast the king made no inquiry concerning my absence. But when his place was vacant the second day, he questioned, “Why has the son of Jesse not come to eat, either yesterday or today?” And Jonathan answered Saul: “David earnestly asked permission of me to go to Bethlehem.
And he said, ‘Please let me go, for our family has a sacrifice in the city, and my brother has commanded me to be there. And now, if I have found favour in your eyes, please let me get away and see my brothers.’ Therefore, he has not come to the king’s table.” When Saul heard these words, his anger was ungovernable. He declared that if David lived, Jonathan could not come to the throne of Israel, and he demanded that David should be sent for immediately, that he might be put to death.
Jonathan again made intercession for me his friend, pleading, And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said to him, “Why should he be killed? What has he done?” This appeal to the king only made him more satanic in his fury, and the spear which he had intended for David he now hurled at his own son.
The prince was grieved and indignant, and leaving the royal presence, he was no more a guest at the feast. His soul was bowed down with sorrow as he went to the spot where I was to learn the king’s intentions toward him.
Each fell upon the other’s neck, and we wept bitterly. The dark passion of the king cast its shadow upon the life of us, the young men, and our grief was too intense for expression. Jonathan’s last words fell upon my ear as we separated to pursue our different paths,
Then Jonathan said to me, “Go in peace, since we have both sworn in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘May the LORD be between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants, forever.’ “
So he arose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.
The king’s son returned to Gibeah, and David hastened to reach Nob, a city but a few kilometres away, and belonging to the tribe of Benjamin. The tabernacle had been taken to this place from Shiloh, and here Ahimelech the high priest ministered. I David knew not whither to flee for refuge, except to the servant of God.
The priest looked upon me with astonishment, as I came in haste and apparently alone, with a countenance marked by anxiety and sorrow. He inquired what had brought me there. I the young man was in constant fear of discovery, and in my extremity, I resorted to deception.
I told the priest that I had been sent by the king on a secret errand, one which required the utmost expedition. My dear friend I regret this sin until today. It was so wrong.
I manifested a want of faith in God, and my sin resulted in causing the death of the high priest. Had the facts been plainly stated, Ahimelech would have known what course to pursue to preserve his life. God requires that truthfulness shall mark His people, even in the greatest peril.
I asked the priest for five loaves of bread. There was nothing but hallowed bread in the possession of the man of God, but I succeeded in removing his scruples, his doubt, and obtained the bread to satisfy my hunger.
A new danger now presented itself. Doeg, the chief of Saul’s herdsmen, who had professed the faith of the Hebrews, was now paying his vows in the place of worship. At sight of this man I determined to make haste to secure another place of refuge, and to obtain some weapon with which to defend myself if defence should it become necessary.
I asked Ahimelech for a sword, and was told that he had none except the sword of Goliath, which had been kept as a relic in the tabernacle. I replied, “There is none like that; give it me.” His courage revived as he grasped the sword that he had once used in destroying the champion of the Philistines.
I fled to Achish, the king of Gath; for he felt that there was more safety in the midst of the enemies of his people than in the dominions of Saul. But it was reported to Achish that David was the man who had slain the Philistine champion years before; and now I, who had sought refuge with the foes of Israel found myself in great peril. But, feigning madness, I deceived my enemies and thus made my escape.
The first error I made was my his distrust of God at Nob, and my second mistake was my deception before Achish. I had displayed noble traits of character, and my moral worth had won me favour with the people.
But as trial came upon me, my faith was shaken, and human weakness appeared. I saw in every man a spy and a betrayer. In a great emergency I had looked up to God with a steady eye of faith, and had vanquished the Philistine giant. I believed in God, he went in His name. But as I had been hunted and persecuted, perplexity and distress had nearly hidden my heavenly Father from my sight.
Has this happened to you?
Yet this experience was serving to teach me wisdom; for it led me to realize my weakness and the necessity of constant dependence upon God. Oh, how precious is the sweet influence of the Spirit of God as it comes to depressed or despairing souls, encouraging the fainthearted, strengthening the feeble, and imparting courage and help to the tried servants of the Lord!
Oh, what a God is ours, who deals gently with the erring and manifests His patience and tenderness in adversity, and when we are overwhelmed with some great sorrow!
Take heart my dear friend. God loves to be on the side of the repented sinner.
We are going to accompany David in his flight from Saul.