1 Samuel 28:4-20; 30:1-31
When life throws difficult circumstances your way, where do you turn for wisdom and direction? Hopefully, as a follower of Jesus, your automatic answer to that question would be that you turn to God in prayer. You reach out to God for help. That’s good, but there is a second and deeper question. In what spirit do you reach out to God? Do you have in your mind what you want God to do, so, in approaching Him, you lay out a list of demands and say, “OK, God, this situation stinks and here’s what I think you should do about it.” Unfortunately, too many times we slip into that mode. We probably do not consciously think in such brash terms, but deep down we really do have an agenda that we want God to follow.
In today’s readings we see this point illustrated in yet another heart contrast between Saul and David. Saul was faced with an oppressive enemy. He became afraid and cried out to God. You can read between the lines that he was crying out to God to deliver him from this enemy. But what did God do? How did He respond? God responded with silence. God did not give the answer that Saul had expected or desired. Up to this point Saul has done nothing wrong. Actually, he has done things right. He approached God with his request. Where he went wrong and exposed the true nature of his heart is what he did with God’s response. Saul rejected God’s response. He said, “I do not accept that response, so I am going to find another means of getting what I want.” Saul’s desire to see his own will be done was so strong that it led him to violate not only God’s Laws, but his own laws as well. Saul had expelled the spiritual mediums out of the country. Now, he was consulting one himself. This was the final straw for Saul and his own inquiry into the realm of the paranormal prophesied his own imminent doom.
David, on the other hand, exposed a very different attitude. Imagine the feeling in David’s heart when he mounted the final rise and saw the smoldering ashes of what was once his home. In that moment a thousand thoughts of terror must have been racing through his mind. Where are my wives? Where are my children? Will I see their burned bodies impaled on a pike? Will the raiders return for more? Who did this? Why did this happen? Where was God when this happened?
For the typical warrior-type person, the first gut response to this travesty and heinous violation would have been to find out who had done this, hunt them down, and pay back blow for blow the violence they had perpetrated on your people. But not David. What was the first thing he did? He said, “Where’s the priest? I need to consult with God. Lord,” he asked, “should I pursue the perpetrators, or is there something I am missing in this situation?” What is amazing about this is that the godly response to this event seems like it was so evident; he needed to go rescue his family. Yet, even in a situation that seemed like a no-brainer, David stopped and asked first.
Here is the heart of David. David saw himself as a servant of God. This village, and even his family, did not belong to him. Everything belonged to God and everything that was done needed to be done as a result of God’s direction and for His glory.
This point is further illustrated in the second part of the story. After David gets permission to pursue the perpetrators, and after he acquires all the plunder from their villages (which, in those days, was his rightful compensation for a victorious battle), look what he does with it. Does he say, “Now I have been repaid for what was taken from me? This is mine and is my just reward?” No. He says, “Hey everybody, look at the bounty that God has provided for us. Here, take some.”
Here are a couple of quick observations about David’s heart. It would do us well to pattern our heart after this.
1. David’s heart was focused on God, not himself.
2. David’s concern was for his nation, his community, not himself.
3. David’s heart was a generous, giving, other-oriented heart.
The next time you are faced with a difficult situation, do a heart check. Are you approaching God with an agenda? If He doesn’t fulfill the expectations of your agenda, are you going to “take your ball and go home.” In that moment, remember David. Remember that this situation, as bad as it may seem, is actually within the boundaries of God’s control. He has the agenda, not you. Come to Him with a receiving heart, ready to hear His plan, and then to obey no matter what it costs.