March 3, 2010

Promises and Exile

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

When David was anointed by Samuel to become the next King of Israel, I'm sure he was pretty excited. Good things started to happen pretty quickly: he was summoned to Saul's court because he was known for his harp playing, and he quickly became a favorite of Saul. He steps out in faith and kills Goliath, being much younger and presumably smaller than any of the Israelite warriors; he just trusts in God's promise that He will let the Israelites prevail against those who spoke against the name of the Lord. For this, David is promised riches and the King's daughter in marriage; he's now set up to join the royal family.

Things are looking pretty good for the small town shepherd boy who always lived in the shadow of his older brothers, as he's just one or two steps away from stepping into that kingship he was promised. If I were him, I'd be on top of the world. After the Goliath incident David is made a military commander and meets with great success in the field, and everyone loves him.

But then his best friend's dad, Saul, a.k.a. King Saul, randomly attempts to kill David while he's playing the harp. The only reason I can imagine that David stayed around after this was that he was anticipating kingship; he didn't want to be far away from the throne. If he were just a regular servant, he would have every reason to get out of there.

More military campaigns, more success. And then a girl. Saul's daughter Michal falls in love with him. Maybe that attempt at murder was just a one time thing and there's nothing to worry about... after all, how can Saul kill his son's best friend and his daughter's love interest?

It seems like everyone underestimated how crazy Saul was. After a short episode where he tells Jonathan and all his servants to kill David (they don't, by the way), Saul goes after David personally. It's a repeat of last time: David's playing the harp, Saul has a spear. Fortunately the spear only ends up in the wall.

Recognizing a pattern, David gets out of there. Finally. Holding out for the crown doesn't seem to be an effective strategy at this point. Very confused and frustrated, he asks Jonathan "What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to take my life?" (1 Samuel 20:1). After some investigation, it's decided that David has to leave for good... he and Jonathan cry together before he leaves.

Where's God's promise at this point? So many things have happened that appear directly contrary to what God said would happen. God said he would become king, but now he's a lonely exile.

In Gath, a land of enemies, he pretends to be insane to avoid trouble. He gathers a band of discontented men soon afterward.

Saul has the priests of the Lord killed, all 85 of them, because they knew about David's escape but didn't tell Saul. Then he has the entirety of the village of Nob killed for similar reasons.

Imagine having that on your conscience. Then imagine that your entire family, along with everyone else's family, is kidnapped while you are away on errands. And your men start to talk about mutiny. How close does that crown feel now?

David doesn't lose faith, though. The families are recaptured. Saul commits suicide in battle, and David is anointed as King... after a very, very long time. But now he's prepared. He's led people through extremely tough times, and learned to really on God in each and every situation. He's now prepared to take hold of that promise.

Anything, no matter how terrible or inconvenient, that happens to you can lead to success; especially those things which seem to be perfectly detrimental to what God has promised you. Our perspective is so short-sighted. We can't see what's ahead, or how what hurts now will grow us years down the road; but He can. So, remember: when you are promised the crown and then you are exiled from your very home, don't worry. Cry, and be sad (that's normal), but ultimately... don't worry, don't turn away, and keep on walking toward Jesus. God's road map for our lives has a lot more depth to it than we can understand.


  1. Thanks, Zach - I needed that today :-)

  2. This is exactly what I needed to hear this morning, Zach! I hadn't been to your blog in a while and I forgot how inspiring it is. Thank you for sharing :)