God's Presence and Blessing
“And Saul hurled the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David evaded him twice.”
~ 1 Samuel 18.11
God’s presence and blessing do not bestow immunity from difficulty and danger.
David has now become a regular part of Saul’s retinue and is a fixture at his court. But his obvious competence – a result of the presence of the Spirit in his life – has made him a focus of Saul’s hatred. It is good to remember that God’s promise to be with us is without qualification; he is with us no matter how difficult the situation.
The text tells us that Saul has been suspicious of David ever since the people began singing the praises of Israel’s new champion. (1 Samuel 18.7-9) But this day, provoked by “a harmful spirit from God,” a raging, out-of-control Saul attempts to kill David – not once, but twice! What is going on here? We know that God is with David and has chosen him to be Israel’s next king. And yet, here is David in mortal danger! If David were a contemporary believer, right now he would be looking for a way out of this special relationship with God, because it is definitely NOT working out!
But the Bible presents us with a much more robust and realistic perspective on the life of faith than is commonly held today. Scripture does not teach that strong faith allows the believer to opt out of the difficult parts of life. God’s people in the Bible faced disease, poverty, family struggles, persecution, and death. Yet they remained faithful to God through all these trials and grow even stronger in their faith. (Re-read Hebrews 11 if you doubt this.) The Bible teaches that God protects His people not by removing them from difficulty but by preserving them in the midst of difficulty.
David had learned this principle from Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and the entire Exodus account. He understood one cannot gauge the extent of the Lord’s blessing (or judgment) by external circumstances. In fact, what seemed to be a trial turned out to be a blessing. As a direct result of this attempt on his life, David’s responsibilities and influence within Israel actually increased because Saul sent him into the field as a “commander of a thousand.” Because the Lord was with him, David saw great success and his prominence within Israel increased; the people came to love him. These trials were making David into the warrior king God’s people needed, while at the same time demonstrating God’s faithfulness to His promises. And so, David endured and matured.
David’s endurance prefigured that of our Lord Jesus, who “learned obedience through what he suffered.” (Hebrews 5.8) As the Son of David, Jesus – from his birth onwards – was threatened by the rulers of God’s people. He was “despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53.3), and he taught his disciples to expect the same kinds of harsh treatment that he received. Yet by contrast, when God’s enemies sought to pin him, not to a wall but to a cross, he did not evade the death blow. Where David had to live to ascend to the throne, Jesus chose to die. Once resurrected, he ascended to the very right hand of God where he rules now as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Sadly, the Lord’s preservation of and blessing upon David only served to enflame Saul’s rage against him. But, over time, that rage became fear (1 Samuel 18.12) – a fear which later produced dread. (1 Samuel 18.15) Yet Saul’s fearful actions ultimately led to David’s accession to the throne. It was the same with the enemies of our Lord Jesus whose rage condemned him to the cross, ultimately paving the way for his cosmic triumph over all his foes.
We should not be surprised when that same pattern plays out in our lives as well. (Cross reference 1 Peter 4.12-14) God’s people are not immune to difficulty and danger, but the fact that we are enabled to endure such circumstances with strong faith and joy are an indication of God’s presence and blessing in our lives.
~ Pastor Dan Steere