David: man of war or man of peace?
David of Israel was a mighty warrior in his younger days. But what of his mature years?
Strange as it may sound, if there ever was a man who sought peace most earnestly, it was David.
It is true that as a mere youth David went into one-to-one combat with the giant Goliath, whom all the fighting men of Israel feared. It is true that David fought and won many battles into which King Saul had sent him in the hope that he would be killed. But what did David do when Saul tried to pin him to the wall with a spear for no valid reason at all (1Samuel 19:9-10) and then sent men to assassinate David in his home that same night (1Sam 19:11)? Did the mighty warrior David seize the spear and pin Saul to the wall like a wriggling moth? Wouldnít he have been justified if he had called out his troops and mounted a coup díťtat to kick the unworthy Saul out? After all, David had already been anointed as the next king of Israel. Here was his chance to seize the throne! And yet, David did none of these. For who was he to raise a hand against the Lordís anointed king? Who was he to say that Saul was unworthy when God himself had made him king?
So, instead, David fled to Godís prophet Samuel at the hill town of Ramah (19:18), then moved south to Nob just north of Jerusalem, and after that sought sanctuary with Achish king of Gath in Philistia. However, Achish was dangerously suspicious of David, so David had to pretend to be insane, to be no threat to Achish. When he had the opportunity, he left Gath and hid in the cave of Adullam, just inside Israel. Still Saul pursued him.
David now hid himself in remote desert areas of Judah and Moab. He played deadly hide-and-seek with Saulís army in the Wilderness of Ziph on the hills overlooking the Dead Sea, the Wilderness of Maon to the south, in the hilly wilderness along the western shores of the Dead Sea, and in the deserts of Moab. Poor David, always on the run, keeping to cover, covering his tracks, probably moving in the hours of darkness to avoid being seen, hiding in caves and among rocks, constantly looking back and feeling hunted and in danger. Food and water were huge problems for David and his band of a few hundred men. Each watering hole could be under watch by Saulís men. And as Saul had offered a reward for information on his whereabouts, every movement of his fugitive band had to be kept secret. Imagine keeping the whereabouts of hundreds of armed men secret, and keeping them supplied with food and water and all the things they needed, year after year.
The question that comes to mind again and again as I read about all this, is: Why didnít David fight back? After all, David was a superb fighter and a great army commander, victorious in every battle. Couldnít he have ambushed Saul and killed him, and saved himself all the trouble of moving furtively from place to place and being in constant danger, running for his life? To be sure, David could have easily done that. In fact he crept close enough to Saul to stab him, on several occasions (1Sam 24:1-10; 26:7-12), but he did not.
What went through Davidís mind during those many years of eluding the superior forces of Saul sent to kill him? Fortunately for us we can get to peep into Davidís mind and see some of his thoughts in those danger-filled times. For he wrote a song called Psalm 34 when he was on the run for his life after fleeing from Philistia. Amazingly, David starts with praise, praise for the God who kept him alive. "I will extol the Lord at all times, His praise will always be on my lips" David sang (Psalm 34:1).
He even sang that his "soul will boast in the Lord" (Ps 34:2). What has a hunted fugitive in constant fear of losing his life got to boast about? The only thing he could boast about was the miraculous way in which God had kept him alive against all odds, despite a relentless manhunt with him as the target. And incredibly, David invited all those around him, and he invites us even today: "Glorify the Lord with me, let us exalt his name together" (Ps 34:3).
From the psalm we see that the brave David did experience fear, but he testifies that God "delivered me from all my fears" (v.4). Indeed, God saved him out of all his troubles (v.6). What blessed assurance we can receive from Davidís statement that "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them" (v.7).
From all his years of continual troubles David has distilled these words of advice for us: "Turn from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it" (v.14). How David must have yearned for peace as he ran from Saulís forces. David the pursued sought peace and pursued it. And with Godís help, David eventually triumphed over overwhelming odds.
Today the world is no more peaceful than it was in Davidís time. The newspapers, radio and television pour out an endless cacophony of reports about yet more strife, revolution, war, mob violence, terrorist and gang violence, and violent crimes of passion or of greed in countries around the world.
Amid all this saddening violence, may we Christians seek peace and pursue it, with Godís help.
on 22 March was taken by the library staff. Daisy led in worship with
Lee Pin on the piano. Kok Weng shared how the Lord is helping him to
recover from backsliding through the study of the shepherd and sheep
theme. He shared from his study of Psalm 23 and his compilation from the
Internet of numerous interpretations and adaptations of this favourite
Psalm. The session ended with each one identifying someone to pray for
through the words of Psalm 23.The link of this prayer is at http://www.kingdompraying.com
Chapel speaker on 29 March will be Dr Augustine Pagolu and on 5 April, Pastor Jerry Seow.
Courses beginning in the month of April 2006.
Please visit our website for full course descriptions. For registration call 6227-6815 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
A BLESSED BIRTHDAY TO....
Mdm Alizys Soon 3/4
Ms Lee Wai Ying 3/4
Ms Soo Hsi En 3/4
Ms Lydia Chua 3/4
Ms Genevieve Goh 5/4
Mr David Lim 6/4
Ms Ng Geok Har 7/4
Mrs Emily Wan 8/4
Ms Aileen Goh 8/4
Rev Park Eun Hyung 9/4