I Samuel 22B-23: Re-Routing
Can you imagine how tired David is? He is constantly in fear for his life. In just a short period of time David has gone from shepherd boy to giant slayer to becoming the most well- known and beloved hero in all of Israel. Now he dwells in a cave. An innocent fugitive who has a price on his head and insanely jealous king after him with all his army. He is worn out, tired, in need of food, rest and sleep. He is in need of mercy and grace. Where do we go to find this rest? Where is there a source which can provide us with these desperately needed things? David longs for safety.
David wrote Psalm 57 while hiding in the cave: “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities pass. I cry out to the God Most High, to God, who fulfills His purpose for me.” We can be thankful David found himself in such dark places of discouragement, for it was in those dark places he wrote these inspired Psalms which encourage us in our times of discouragement. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne room of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4) Coming to the throne room of the God Most High reminded David of the One under whose authority and power he lived and breathed.
Did you see the names David used: the God Most High, and then a description of what God does- ‘to God who fulfills His purpose for me’? David knew he was anointed by Samuel as God’s choice to become king. What he did not know was the training program for kings would involve such hardships. Who can imagine the next king of Israel was training his troops in a dark cave, yet this was God’s plan. When God reroutes your life journey, do not be surprised where He might send you to fulfill His purpose for your life.
In the coming passages and adventures we will see David and his army become a sort of Robin Hood and his merry band of men. Hiding out but always with his eyes on the one and only God Most High. Perhaps this is a name you need to use when you are at your lowest point to remind yourself you are talking to the God Most High and what you are seeking is His purpose for your life.
Here is another Psalm which David wrote during his cave dwelling days: “I cry out to the Lord with my voice; with my voice I make my supplication. I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare before Him all my trouble. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then you knew my path. I cried out to You O Lord; I said you are my refuge. My portion in the land of the living, attend to my cry. For I am brought very low; deliver me from my persecutors for they are stronger than I. Bring my soul out of prison, that I might praise Your Name; the righteous shall surround me, for You shall deal bountifully with me. “(Psalm 142) Notice some of David’s descriptions of his condition: overwhelmed; very low, in prison.
In Psalm 81 we hear the heart of God when He speaks and tells us: “ I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. But my people would not heed my voice, and Israel would have none of Me. So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels. Oh that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways! I would subdue their enemies and turn My hand against their adversaries.” (Psalm 81: 10-14) Are you listening to God? Are you doing what He tells you to do? For if you are not- He will give you over to a stubborn mind to walk in your own counsel.
“This is what the Lord says: Stand at the crossroads and look and ask for the ancient paths; ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, “I will not walk in it.” (Jeremiah 6: 16) God will intervene in your life to re-route you, just like your GPS will re-route you when you make a wrong turn. Just like your ‘router’ does for your computer. A router connects devices within a network by forwarding data packets of information between them. I have the Spirit of God within me- He is my Router. And sometimes He re-routes. Re-Routing when traveling involves changing directions.
LISTENING TO GOD
If we want to walk with God, we must listen to God. Do you believe God wants to show you great and mighty things? He tells us He wants to do just that- in Jeremiah 33: 3. Surely what comes to David’s mind sometimes is the same thing which comes to your mind during a difficult time: can anything good come out of this situation? Let me say when God is involved- the answer is YES! Realize it may take time, in some cases years. David will be on the run for 10 years. Joseph was sold into slavery at age 17 and did not reach the place God had re-routed him to until age 30. And in those 13 years, probably 10 years were spent in an Egyptian dungeon.
David wrote ‘even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me.’ There is only one way to face adversity and that is with faith in Jesus Christ. Turn to Him. Ask Him to give you wisdom and strength. He will perfect that which concerns you. His lovingkindness is everlasting. (Psalm 138: 8)
Paul wrote: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4: 13) *This is the secret to handling life’s difficulties. It is total dependency on a sovereign, all powerful God who loves you with an everlasting love.
Paul knew something about adversity. Listen to what his re-routed journey brought into his life:
“Five times I received 39 lashes from the Jews. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned and left for dead. Three times I was shipwrecked and spent a night and day in the deep. In danger from robbers, in danger from my own countrymen, danger from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the country, dangers at sea and dangers among false brothers. (2 Corinthians 11) Now keep in mind, before Paul, previously known as Saul of Tarsus, was saved and re-routed, he was on the path of achievement and success. A Pharisee of Pharisees. A promising young man gifted with intelligence and ambition. Probably with the goal of one day becoming the High Priest.
In David’s 10 year journey to become king of Israel, God has re-routed David’s life. It is a difficult, but necessary time in his life to prepare him to rule and reign as God’s chosen man to be king of Israel. One of the most important things David must learn, is the same thing we must learn: How to Listen to God.
For a Christian this is probably the most important lesson we can learn. Some might think, as a recent television host did, that people who think God speaks to them are crazy. But I can assure you God speaks to you, the question is are you listening. How does God speak to us? Hebrews 1 answers the question: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in the past to the fathers by prophets, has in the last days spoken to us by His Son.” God speaks to us individually. If you have not learned the secret of personalizing scripture, that is putting you name in the place of the pronoun in a verse and claiming this specific promise for you, then you have missed a blessing and the intention of the Word of God. For God longs to gather you as mother hen would her chicks under His wings. Allow the Holy Spirit, your Router to bring this information to you, right where you are in the midst of troubling circumstances.
God speaks through His Word. Through the Holy Spirit. Through People. Through Circumstances. God’s Goal in speaking to us is: To know the truth- about Him, about ourselves and the world around us. His goal is to conform us by transforming our mind. To do this God communicates truth to us which sets us free in order to communicate this Truth to others. As Christians we have something to say and we must know how to say it!
Know this: there is no problem too great for God. He specializes in hope, for He is the God of all hope. When David the shepherd boy bowed his head for Samuel to anoint him king, he had no idea of the trouble and turmoil which lay before him. A cave of discouragement taught David a lesson which could only be taught in the dark cave. He learned to trust God with his circumstances and leave the consequences to Him. Have you learned this lesson?
Learning to listen to God through His Word is the most important thing you can do because there is no other way to experience the abiding life, the exchanged life, the abundant life God has for you except through His Word.
So through the study of God’s Word and His working in the life of David, we will learn:
No problem is too great for God. But we will also learn and see there will be the tests of endurance. Endurance is linked with patience. Listen to these verses: “And we desire the each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience (endurance) inherit the promises.” (Hebrews 6)
Do not throw away your confidence- do not throw in the towel admitting defeat. God has an answer for your need. He will provide the faith to stand and where does faith come from? Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Wait for God’s timing. Solve your problem through prayer and discover the power of praying God’s Word and promises back to Him.
God wants to train us to do His will. David and his men are in boot camp. In the meanwhile, King Saul has come to Nob and put Ahimelech, the priest on trial. Doeg, the Edomite delivers misleading testimony and Saul slaughters 85 priests in Nob. One of the priests, Abiathar escapes and fled to David. He knew David was his only hope. David had to be crushed by knowing what had happened to the priests and the role he played in it.
Now I mentioned earlier, David and his band of men reminded me of the legendary Robin Hood and his band of men. David hears the Philistines are attacking the city of Keilah and robbing their threshing floors. David prays, inquires of the Lord should he attack the Philistines in Keilah. Interesting word used in describing David’s prayer- he ‘inquired of the Lord.’ Inquire means to ask for information, to question someone. The One David inquires of is God Almighty who possesses all knowledge and wisdom and is all powerful. David knew who he was talking to- God Most High. And we read, “The Lord said to David…” Do you believe David heard from God? This question must be answered by you. Prayer is a conversation with God. Conversation means we talk and we listen. We listen to God. Is God still speaking to us today? Yes. He has in these last days spoken to us through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. God wants to encourage you. He wants to give you directions. He wants to transform your life.
David’s men thought attacking the Philistines in Keilah was a foolish move for this would put them in greater risk from Saul and his forces. Yet we read: “So David and his men went to Keilah, fought the Philistines and carried off their livestock. He inflicted heavy losses on the Philistines and saved the people of Keilah.” If we lose sight of God’s purpose during times of testing, we will lose heart and grow weary. Remember this: God is conforming us to the image of His Son. By His divine power He has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him.
Our purpose on earth is to pursue godliness. The sanctification process is training. Paul writes to Timothy and says, ‘….discipline (exercise) yourself for the purpose of godliness. ‘Spiritual disciplines are those personal disciplines to promote spiritual growth. These spiritual disciplines are given to us by God to help us pursue holiness. Now we must not be like the Galatians who began in the Spirit and then tried to finish in the flesh. Pursing godliness creates and builds godly people. Godly people are disciplined people because godliness comes through discipline. God uses three catalysts to change us: people, circumstances and the Word of God. People and circumstances work on us from the outside in, but intake of Scripture works on us from the inside out. We have little or no control over the people and circumstances God allows to come into our lives. But we have control over how much time we spend in meditating in the Word of God.
ENCOUNTERS WITH GOD
Obviously when God re-routes our lives it is not to put us further away from Him, but bring us into a closer encounter with Him. Strange how being a cave of discouragement can bring you closer to God. Yet, many a Christian who has entered the dark, unknown cave of a cancer diagnosis has found the re- routing of their life has altered their life and their perspective like nothing else. Same can be true of failures by the world’s standards are sometimes God’s most important successes in our lives in the pursuit of holiness.
Think of the blindman, Bartimaeus, and his encounter with the Lord Jesus in Mark 10. He was blind and a beggar who for years had sat by a roadside near Jericho begging for alms. Then one day he heard a crowd of unusual numbers. Interesting how the loss of sight makes one hearing more acute. He heard the excitement and inquired what is happening. Someone said it is Jesus of Nazareth passing by. Bartimaeus had heard the stories of Jesus’ healing. There is the sense of hearing again- for faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Bartimaeus began to shout with all his might, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Others told him to be quiet, to shut up. But Bartimaeus would not be quiet. I like what Jesus did next. “So Jesus stood still…” Can you picture this scene? Can you imagine when you cry out to Jesus in your desperation that He stands still and listens to you?! Jesus then commanded them to bring Bartimaeus to him. Then Jesus asked him, “What would you have me to do?” Bartimaeus answered: “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well. And immediately he received his sight and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people when they saw it, gave praise to God.”
Now right after this in Luke 19, Jesus enters into Jericho, and we read there was man named Zacchaeus who was chief tax collector and very rich. He sought to see Jesus. He was not physically blind, but spiritually blind. But he was seeking. So many of the spiritually blind around us today are seeking for something which is missing from their lives. The Bible says we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. Coming short was also a description of Zacchaeus’ physical stature. So climbed up in a tree to see Jesus. Jesus looked at him, called him by name and went to his house that day and Zacchaeus was saved.
Spiritual disciplines start with intake of God’s word. This our road map which will re-route our lives and place us the path of God’s grace. And when we ask, seek and knock we will receive, find and have opened to us the way God would have us to go.
He will re-route our life’s journey.