“And David said in his heart, ‘Now I shall perish someday by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape to the land of the Philistines; and Saul will despair of me, to seek me anymore in any part of Israel. So I shall escape out of his hand.’” 1 Samuel 27:1
David had been running from Saul for a long time. Sometimes when we’ve been struggling with the same situation and there’s no change and there’s no assurance that there will ever be any change in the near future it’s easy to give up hope and start looking for solutions that are not part of God’s plan for us. And that’s what David did.
What he did wasn’t a new idea for David, in fact, David first had this idea right at the beginning of when he had begun running from Saul. He would go and obtain asylum for himself among the Philistines and live with them.
At first he got permission from Achish, the king of Gath, for he, his two wives, his six hundred men and their families to live in Gath, but later he sought and received permission to live in the country away from Gath and he and his band moved to the village of Ziklag. All total, scripture tells us that David lived with the Philistines for one year and four months.
During the time of his exile David must have needed to prove his loyalty to the Philistines and he did so by raiding the Canaanite people living to the south toward Egypt. When he and his men would make a raid they made sure to leave no survivors that could report their activities back to the Philistines. Then when Achish would ask David what he and his men had been doing they would say that they had raided a town or village in Judah, and Achish would think to himself that David was loyal to him and hated by the Israelites.
Of course this was all a lie. David didn’t want to live among the Philistines, he was not attacking the Israelites, and he was not loyal to Achish. What he was, was tired of running from king Saul but what he chose as a solution was just a different kind of running and hiding. That’s often the way it works for us when we make decisions based on faithlessness and fatigue. Far better to follow Solomon’s advice in Proverbs chapter three, verses five and six, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
It’s not easy to learn to walk by faith. Often times its not the big or sudden things that pose the biggest challenge. It’s the everyday grind, the long, slow, relentless slog that puts our faith to the greatest test. That’s why everyday we have to renew our choice to trust in him, every hour renew our decision to rely on his wisdom, and every moment to turn to him to point us in the right direction.
As we learn to live by faith its good to also remember that David’s mistakes didn’t cause God to reject him. God doesn’t cast us aside for imperfect decisions. His love and grace is great enough for him to patiently forgive us, bring us back and set us once again on the path that’s best for us.