Falling into a pile of fertilizer, coming out smelling like incense

Ever known someone who could totally mess up, yet come out of it all way better off than when he or she started messing up? Well, check out King David. Before becoming King, David was hated by King Saul, who ended up pursuing David, wanting to kill him. David fled to enemy territory, to live in a city under the rule of King Achish, a Philistine. And in so doing, David incurred an obligation to King Achish.

In those days the Philistines gathered their forces for war, to fight against Israel. And Achish said to David, “Understand that you and your men are to go out with me in the army.” David said to Achish, “Very well, you shall know what your servant can do.” 1 Samuel 28:1,2

So David’s in a bit of a pickle here. He knows he can’t fight against Israel. He also knows that he has lived under King Achish’s rule; David owes the Philistine king. Here’s what Matthew Henry says:

“[In] verses 1-6 here is, I. T he design of the Philistines against Israel. They resolved to fight them, v. 1. If the Israelites had not forsaken God, there would have been no Philistines remaining to molest them; if Saul had not forsaken him, they would by this time have been put out of all danger by them. The Philistines took an opportunity to make this attempt when they had David among them, whom they feared more than Saul and all his forces.II. The expectation Achish had of assistance from David in this war, and the encouragement David gave him to expect it: “Thou shalt go with me to battle,’’ says Achish. “If I protect thee, I may demand service from thee;’’ and he will think himself happy if he may have such a man as David on his side, who prospered whithersoever he went. David gave him an ambiguous answer: “We will see what will be done; it will be time enough to talk of that hereafter; but surely thou shalt know what thy servant can do’’ (v. 2), that is, “I will consider in what post I may be best able to serve thee, if thou wilt but give me leave to choose it.’’ Thus he keeps himself free from a promise to serve him and yet keeps up his expectation of it; for Achish took it in no other sense than as an engagement to assist him, and promised him, thereupon, that he would make him captain of the guards, protector, or prime-minister of state.”

Now the Philistines had gathered all their forces at Aphek. And the Israelites were encamped by the spring that is in Jezreel. As the lords of the Philistines were passing on by hundreds and by thousands, and David and his men were passing on in the rear with Achish, the commanders of the Philistines said, “What are these Hebrews doing here?” 1 Samuel 29:1-3

David’s not going to be allowed to fight against his own people. Here’s how Matthew Henry explains it: “It is strange if those that associate themselves with wicked people, and grow intimate with them, come off without guilt, or grief, or both. What he himself proposed to do does not appear. Perhaps he designed to act only as keeper to the king’s head, the post assigned him ch. 28:2 ) and not to do any thing offensively against Israel. But it would have been very hard to come so near the brink of sin and not to fall in. Therefore, though God might justly have left him in this difficulty, to chastise him for his folly, yet, because his heart was upright with him, he would not suffer him to be tempted above what he was able, but with the temptation made a way for him to escape, 1 Co. 10:13 .II. A door opened for his deliverance out of this strait. God inclined the hearts of the princes of the Philistines to oppose his being employed in the battle, and to insist upon his being dismissed.”

The lesson to take from David’s experience is to stay out of the enemy camp. Yet, we’re Christians, and we’re being made perfect, but we’re still waging a war on the flesh. We are going to become enmeshed in some affair or other that has the potential to drag us into sin. It is at that point we must remember David’s response to King Achish, and not commit ourselves further. That gave David time to wait upon the Lord, and the Lord rescued him from a grievous error.

Thinking about what King Achish was asking of David–a promise to fight for the Philistines, against Israel–I wonder how many times I’ve made a promise about something that I had no right to make. Perhaps it seemed innocent enough at the time, but how can I know what may occur in the future. How many promises have I made in nearly sixty-five years that I’ve broken? Perhaps rather than saying, “Sure I’ll do” this or that, it may be more ambiguous a response, like David’s, to say “Let’s see what happens,” or “I’ll see what I can do.”

The thing is, we, as Christians, need to be more shrewd in our dealings with the “world.” I think often that we are too gentle, too naïve, too willing to accommodate without thinking through exactly what it will cost our souls.

What do you think?

Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .

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