God-Hearted #13 — 1 Samuel 27-28 — When A Life Is Built On Discouragement, Doubt, and Fear

Some of the Psalms David could have written during this next episode:

  • Psalm 10:1 (ESV) — 1 Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
  • Psalm 13:1 (ESV) — 1 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
  • Psalm 22:1 (ESV) — 1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

  • Theme: Discouragement overtook David for a season of his life, giving us a glimpse into a life built on attitudes of despair. In Christ, we can overcome.

1 Your Heart Overtakes God’s Word (1 Samuel 27:1)

1 Then David said in his heart, “Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand.”

  • Though successful against in trilogy of temptation with Saul, Nabal, and, again, Saul (1 Samuel 24-26), David began to believe he would perish one day by the hand of Saul.
  • He told himself he ought to escape to the land of the Philistines. This, he thought, was the only way he could dissuade Saul from seeking him within the borders of Israel. He saw no other way to escape out of Saul’s hand.

  • 1 Then David said in his heart

    • He did not pray to God—but his heart.
    • He did not consult the word—but the lies of his heart.
      • He had doubts about God’s promises.
      • He had fears about Saul.
      • He was discouraged by the situation.
  • We easily fall into the same trap:
    • Has God called me? No, he has not.
    • Does God love me? No, he does not.
    • Is God with me? No, he is not.
    • Does God have a plan for my life? No, he does not.
  • We must allow our hearts to be conditioned by the word of God.
    • Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV) — 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
    • Broken humanity is “under sin” (Romans 3:9), making our hearts terrible guides for life and truth.
      • And even after conversion, having received a new nature from the Spirit, we are prone to deception from the old nature.
    • 2 Timothy 3:15 (ESV) — 15 …the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
      • Timothy was already “saved” (past tense), but was still in need of “salvation” (continual).

2 You Will Experience Relief (1 Samuel 27:2-7)

2 So David arose and went over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to Achish the son of Maoch, king of Gath. 3 And David lived with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, and David with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail of Carmel, Nabal’s widow.

4 And when it was told Saul that David had fled to Gath, he no longer sought him.

5 Then David said to Achish, “If I have found favor in your eyes, let a place be given me in one of the country towns, that I may dwell there. For why should your servant dwell in the royal city with you?” 6 So that day Achish gave him Ziklag. Therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day. 7 And the number of the days that David lived in the country of the Philistines was a year and four months.

  • 2 So David arose and went over to the Philistines, particularly to Achish the king of Gath.
  • 2-3 David had gone to Achish during the first days of his flight from Saul. During that episode, David was mostly alone, but now he has six hundred men, their households, and his own household (his two wives, Ahinoam and Abigail).
    • In those early days, it appeared David and Saul might still become reunited, but by this time Achish may have thought to make David an ally.
  • 4 Sure enough, Saul responded to the news by seeking David no longer.
  • 5 David requested a country town from Achish.
  • 6 Achish gave him Zicklag, which became a permanent possession of the kings of Judah up to the time 1 Samuel was written.
  • 7 David lived in Zicklag, in the country of the Philistines, for a year and four months.

  • Saul no longer sought him.

  • David and his men got to live fairly normal lives.
    • But this relief was temporary.
  • Temporary relief will come.
    • Jonah slept in the boat.
    • Hebrews 11:25 (ESV) — 25 …the fleeting pleasures of sin.
  • In one sense, it is easy to get our of the place of trial; but then we get out of the place of blessing also.
    • How suffering can benefit us:
      • Suffering is preventative.
        • “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.” (2 Corinthians 12:7).
      • Suffering helps us learn obedience.
        • “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8).
      • Suffering deepens our fellowship with Christ.
        • “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death...” (Philippians 3:10).
      • Suffering increases our reward.
        • “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:13).
      • Suffering creates empathy in the body of Christ.
        • “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1 Corinthians 12:26).

3 You Turn To And Do Things You Normally Wouldn’t

8 Now David and his men went up and made raids against the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites, for these were the inhabitants of the land from of old, as far as Shur, to the land of Egypt. 9 And David would strike the land and would leave neither man nor woman alive, but would take away the sheep, the oxen, the donkeys, the camels, and the garments, and come back to Achish. 10 When Achish asked, “Where have you made a raid today?” David would say, “Against the Negeb of Judah,” or, “Against the Negeb of the Jerahmeelites,” or, “Against the Negeb of the Kenites.” 11 And David would leave neither man nor woman alive to bring news to Gath, thinking, “lest they should tell about us and say, ‘So David has done.’ ” Such was his custom all the while he lived in the country of the Philistines. 12 And Achish trusted David, thinking, “He has made himself an utter stench to his people Israel; therefore he shall always be my servant.”

  • 8-12 David and his men provided for themselves in the most terrible way, raiding the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites. They would kill everyone, taking no prisoners or servants for themselves, no one who would bring news to Gath and Achish.
  • 12 Achish, upon seeing this behavior, trusted David, thinking, “He has made himself an utter stench to his people Israel,” for David had told him he’d attacked Israelite settlements.

    • The targets were the inhabitants of the land from of old, so they had been marked out for judgement by God.
    • Saul was guilty of allowing the Amalekites to live.
    • But it does not seem as if David is serving God’s purposes of judgement here, but his own purposes of provision.
      • No defense.
  • He went to Gath, to Achish, with his two wives, and began slaughtering people to survive.

    • But, in a way, it all made perfect sense.
  • Discouragement gives you a defeated mentality.
  • Doubts eliminate faith.
  • And fear makes you strive.
    • You begin to say and do and think things your normally wouldn’t.

4 You Will Be Forced Into Terrible Choices (1 Samuel 28:1-2)

1 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.” 2 David said to Achish, “Very well, you shall know what your servant can do.” And Achish said to David, “Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.”

  • 1 Eventually, in those days the Philistines gathered their forces for war, to fight against Israel. This may have been brought on due to Saul’s obvious instability, or because David was now firmly on their side, or for some other reason.
  • 1 But after sixteen months of living in Zicklag, David was invited into battle against Israel!
    • The reader is meant to be shocked! The future king of Israel is about to war against Israel!
  • 1 Achish said to David, “Understand that you and your men are to go out with me in the army.”
  • 2 David seems to have agreed with Achish, saying, ”Very well, you shall know what your servant can do.”
  • 2 Achich, pleased with David’s response, said, ”Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.”

  • David might never have suspected this day would come.

  • Make your decisions in advance.
    • Joshua 24:15 (ESV) — 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

5 You Still Have Hope, So Build Your Life On God’s Word (Commands and Promises) (1 Samuel 28:3-7)

3 Now Samuel had died, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his own city. And Saul had put the mediums and the necromancers out of the land.

  • 3 We are reminded that Samuel had died, which is important to this story for two reasons. First, Saul was no longer able to hear God’s voice. Second, more importantly and shockingly, Samuel would be called up from the dead to speak with Saul!
  • 3 It is also noted that Saul had put the mediums and the necromancers out of the land.
    • Mediums were “mumblers” who pretended to communicate with the dead. The raw Hebrew word means “bottle, water skin, or ventriloquist.”
    • Necromancers or spiritists were “conjurers of spirits.”
    • Saul had removed them, but in the story he will seek for one.

4 The Philistines assembled and came and encamped at Shunem. And Saul gathered all Israel, and they encamped at Gilboa. 5 When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. 6 And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. 7 Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at En-dor.”

  • 4 The Philistines assembled for war, and Saul gathered all Israel to war against them.
  • 5 Saul, a man who had failed to see God’s army for many years, was afraid when he saw the army of the Philistines. His heart trembled greatly.
  • 6 In his distress, Saul inquired of the LORD by all the typical means of his era—dreams, Urim, or prophets.
  • 7 Desperate to hear something from someone, Saul told his servants to find him a medium. Though he had banished them previously, his servants knew of a medium at En-Dor.

  • God was not speaking to Saul.

  • But he was willing (as we will see) to speak to David.
    • There is still hope.
  • Consider the outcome of Saul and David’s way of life.
    • Hebrews 13:7 (ESV) — 7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.

6 Look To The Better King (1 Samuel 28:8-25)

8 So Saul disguised himself and put on other garments and went, he and two men with him. And they came to the woman by night. And he said, “Divine for me by a spirit and bring up for me whomever I shall name to you.” 9 The woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the necromancers from the land. Why then are you laying a trap for my life to bring about my death?” 10 But Saul swore to her by the LORD, “As the LORD lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing.”

  • 8-10 The woman was afraid of his request to divine a spirit for him, reminding them the King Saul had cut off the mediums and necromancers from the land.
  • 10 Saul swore to her that no punishment would come upon her for this thing, a promise she, for some reason, received.

11 Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” He said, “Bring up Samuel for me.” 12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul.”

  • 11-12 Saul requested Samuel, and when Samuel actually showed up she was shocked and cried out with a loud voice.

13 The king said to her, “Do not be afraid. What do you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I see a god coming up out of the earth.” 14 He said to her, “What is his appearance?” And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped in a robe.” And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground and paid homage.

15 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Saul answered, “I am in great distress, for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams. Therefore I have summoned you to tell me what I shall do.” 16 And Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the LORD has turned from you and become your enemy? 17 The LORD has done to you as he spoke by me, for the LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David. 18 Because you did not obey the voice of the LORD and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the LORD has done this thing to you this day. 19 Moreover, the LORD will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me. The LORD will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.”

  • 13-19 Saul told her, ”Do not be afraid.” He then asked her, ”What do you see?”
    • Samuel confirmed for Saul that he would die tomorrow, departing this world.
    • 19 You and your sons will be with me: Though not necessarily a statement regarding Saul’s eternal hope, it might be.

20 Then Saul fell at once full length on the ground, filled with fear because of the words of Samuel. And there was no strength in him, for he had eaten nothing all day and all night. 21 And the woman came to Saul, and when she saw that he was terrified, she said to him, “Behold, your servant has obeyed you. I have taken my life in my hand and have listened to what you have said to me. 22 Now therefore, you also obey your servant. Let me set a morsel of bread before you; and eat, that you may have strength when you go on your way.” 23 He refused and said, “I will not eat.” But his servants, together with the woman, urged him, and he listened to their words. So he arose from the earth and sat on the bed. 24 Now the woman had a fattened calf in the house, and she quickly killed it, and she took flour and kneaded it and baked unleavened bread of it, 25 and she put it before Saul and his servants, and they ate. Then they rose and went away that night.

  • 20-25 The woman and the servants convinced Saul to eat one last meal before they went away that night.

  • We overcome in Christ.

    • 2 Corinthians 4:7–11 (ESV) — 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.