David Rejected from Philistine Battle Lineup
In coercive redirection, God intervenes by placing an insurmountable obstacle to compel a person to abandon planned wrongdoing or a course of actions inimical to self-interest. That is, people planning to do something that would cause them to depart from God’s path encounter circumstances beyond their control that force them to withdraw from the plan. We discuss an example from David, when Philistine commanders rejected him from joining their battle lineup against Israel.
We discuss an example of divine intervention whereby circumstances beyond a person’s control compel him/her to abandon a planned course of actions that would harm his/her interest or the interest of others. As a result of the intervention, people planning to do something that would cause them to depart from God’s path encounter an insurmountable obstacle that compels them to abandon the plan.
The bible provides an excellent example based on the rejection of David from a Philistine battle lineup. The Philistines setup camp to attack Israel from the North in the area around Mt. Gilboa. David lived in Philistine on exile at the time, hosted by Achish, the king Gath. The king co-opted him to join the Philistine lineup for the battle.
However, Philistine commanders did not accept David joining them in battle against Israel. They prevailed on Achish to order David to return to his base: “Now get up early, along with your master’s servants who have come with you, and leave in the morning as soon as it is light” [1 Samuel 29:10]. Therefore, David and his men departed the Philistine battle lineup and returned to their base of Ziklag inside Philistine territory. Thus, the rejection became an “insurmountable obstacle” that God used to compel David to abandon his plan of joining Philistines in battle against Israel. The Philistines later defeated Israel in the battle and killed Saul and his three sons, including Jonathan, at Mount Gilboa.
PLAN INIMICAL TO SELF-INTEREST David’s interest would have been harmed by joining Philistines in the battle, irrespective of the battle outcome. If he fought faithfully alongside the Philistines, then his reputation with the people of Israel would be harmed, irrespective of whether the Philistines won or lost. If the Philistines won (as they did), then the people of Israel would have blamed David for their defeat and the death of Saul and subsequently would likely not accept him as their king. On the contrary, if the Philistines lost with David fighting on their side, Israel would also have rejected him as their king because of fighting alongside their enemy. Alternatively, if he flipped to join Israel during the battle but they still lost to the Philistines, the people of Israel would have considered him too weak to lead them as king. Still the worst outcome would have been if he flipped and helped Israel and Saul to victory against the Philistines. Such an outcome would have violated God’s plan to terminate Saul with the battle and would have harmed David’s projected kingship. God would not permit his plan to be thwarted. He stepped in to redirect David away from joining the Philistines in the battle. Thus, God placed the Philistine commanders as an insurmountable obstacle to compel David to abandon a plan that would have harmed his interest.
PRAYER FOR COERCIVE REDIRECTION David’s experience illustrates coercive redirection as a form of divine intervention that God may cause to occur for any person using another as channel. May we join in prayer to ask God for coercive redirection whenever we find ourselves on a path inconsistent with his purpose. May we pray the same prayer for our children, especially for our children. If ever any of our children should allow themselves to approach a path to wrongdoing or a course of actions inimical to their interest, may God place an insurmountable obstacle to compel them to abandon the path and return to his ways. God did this for David and will do the same for any person that will worship and serve him.
In this study, we discuss the rejection of David from Philistine battle lineup as an example of coercive redirection. Voluntary redirection, whereby God provides a person opportunity to re-evaluate and abandon planned wrongdoing voluntarily, is discussed in a previous study under Opportunity for Voluntary Redirection—In Waiting for God.