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Overcome Evil with Good

As we’ve been going through the book of 1 Samuel, reading the stories of Saul, David, & Jonathan, we’ve come across several defining moments for these characters – critical moments where they have to make a certain choice and that choice then becomes the foundation of their character for the rest of their lives – for good or for bad.

Well, today we are going to read about one of those key, defining moments in the life of David. In fact, I would argue that this defining moment is probably even more significant even than his famous battle with Goliath. David’s battle with Goliath defined him as a man of bravery, boldness, and trust in God, but it’s today’s story that really begins to define David as a man after God’s own heart.

Now if you haven’t been with us recently, let me just quickly give you the run down on where we are in our story today.

King Saul is the current king of Israel, but because of his disobedience to the Lord, the Lord has declared that He will take the kingdom away from him and give it to another – a man who will obey God and do all that God desires. Saul’s son-in-law, David, has been chosen by God to be that man. God has told David that he will one day be king. This has created an interesting dynamic between David and Saul. 

Of course, David has been completely loyal to Saul and has served him faithfully – commanding Saul’s armies and being very successful at that. But Saul has grown increasingly jealous of David and has repeatedly tried to kill him.

In fact, for the last several chapters of 1 Samuel, Saul has been chasing David around the countryside – trying to capture and kill him, but David so far, has escaped – sometimes just by the skin of his teeth.

Just last week we read how Saul was only moments away from capturing David, when an urgent message arrived – telling King Saul that the Philistines were attacking – so Saul left to fight the Philistines, and David escaped. Of course, this wasn’t by chance or by luck, but by the hand of God. Throughout these stories we’ve seen God at work, keeping David safely out of the grasp of King Saul.

But in today’s story, we’re going to see things flip around, and it’s not going to be David in the hands of Saul, but Saul in the hands of David.

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David’s Compassion – Saul’s Paranoia

Last week, as we continued our study of 1 Samuel, we read about some of David’s darkest days. He had just fled from King Saul – leaving behind his friends and family – and was heading out to try to make sense of this new life as a fugitive.

His first stop was to visit Ahimelech the priest at the tabernacle – not to make sacrifices or offerings this time – but to gather supplies for the long journey ahead into exile. Ahimelech, of course had no idea that David was fleeing from Saul – and David made certain not to tell him. In fact, David outright lied about why he was even there – making up some story about being on a secret mission from the king. 

But Ahimelech helped David in every way that he could, giving him the Bread of the Presence from the tabernacle (that was really only supposed to be eaten by the priest) as well as giving him the sword of Goliath that David had brought there some years earlier.

From there, David went to seek refuge in the Philistine city of Gath – the hometown of Goliath! Certainly the last place anyone would expect David to go! And at first, it seemed that the Philistine King Achish might welcome David as a defector, but the other Philistine officials did not think that was such a wise idea. After all, David was pretty much enemy #1 for the Philistines. Why should they trust him?

Well, once David got wind of what the Philistine officials were saying, he feared for his life and decided to pretend he was crazy – scratching on the doorways and drooling down his beard! When King Achish saw David’s bizarre behaviour, he sent him away (saying that he had more than enough madmen already!)

At that point, David fled to the cave of Adullum – where, according to Psalm 34, David cried out in desperation to the Lord for help.

Of course, God heard his prayers and answered him. Through it all, God protected and was with David, and was working out all things for good.

But of course, in the moment, David had a hard time seeing that. As he fled from Saul, and as he fled from Gath, and as he hid out in the cave of Adullam, he felt alone, forgotten, friendless, and helpless. They were some of David’s darkest days.

But as we begin chapter 22 today, we’ll see that David’s dark days will begin to get a little brighter.

Chapter 22 opens with David escaping from Gath and hiding out in the cave of Adullam. He arrives alone, as we’ve mentioned before, but it’s not long before he gets some company. So let’s read what happens. It says in verse 1 of 1 Samuel chapter 22:

So David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. Soon his brothers and all his other relatives joined him there. Then others began coming—men who were in trouble or in debt or who were just discontented—until David was the captain of about 400 men. 

Later David went to Mizpeh in Moab, where he asked the king, “Please allow my father and mother to live here with you until I know what God is going to do for me.” So David’s parents stayed in Moab with the king during the entire time David was living in his stronghold.1 Samuel 22:1-4

So not long after David arrives at this cave of Adullam, soon a wide variety of people begin showing up.

First of all, we see that all of David’s brothers and relatives come to join him. And that’s almost a little surprising because David hasn’t always had a great relationship with the rest of his family. You’ll remember that when David was a kid, he was overlooked and forgotten about entirely as when Samuel invited their family to join him for a sacrifice. Everybody went but David was left with the sheep! Later on when he was a teenager and he showed up to visit his brothers at the battlefield, he was blasted by his older brother for being proud, deceitful, and selfish. So in the few glimpses we’ve seen of David’s family dynamics, we haven’t seem much evidence of support for David from his family.

But those glimpses did happen several years ago. Things may have changed over time as David grew to become a highly respected and successful commander in Saul’s army. Family relationships do tend to mature over time. So it could be that they’ve come to offer David their loyal support as his family. 

The other possibility for why they’ve decided to come to David now is that Saul’s quest to capture David has threatened their lives as well! 

If Saul is willing to kill his own family to get to David, he most certainly would be willing to kill David’s family! And so it could be that all of David’s family have come to him at this cave now because they too are fleeing for their lives!

Verse 3 & 4 seem to support that as David asks the King of Moab to keep and protect his parents while David tries to figure out what God is doing in all this! David must assume that their lives are in danger as long as Saul is hunting him, and so he makes a plan to keep them safely out of Saul’s reach in Moab.

But whether David’s brothers are just offering their loyal support as family or whether they too are fleeing for their lives, either way, it certainly makes sense that all of David’s relatives come to join him at the cave of Adullam.

But what about all these other people? Verse 2 tells us that “others began coming—men who were in trouble or in debt or who were just discontented—until David was the captain of about 400 men.”

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