Interactions with human realities are important in working with God while waiting for his intervention. He often prepares a person for divine breakthrough as the person responds to real-life needs. We discuss an example from the life of David as king in waiting. Following termination of his army career under Saul, David sought to re-position himself on a path to kingship. He identified his immediate and long-term needs of protection from Saul, restoring economic viability, and continuing to build leadership reputation among the people. He cobbled together a force of four hundred to protect and provide for himself and followers and defend Israeli territories against foreign attack. He demonstrated leadership by molding the team into a formidable private army that produced the famous “mighty men” and eventually will propel him to kingship.
David sought to re-position himself on a path to kingship after he departed unexpectedly from his service in the Israeli army under Saul. He identified his immediate and long-term needs as protection from Saul, restoring his economic viability, and continuing to build his leadership reputation among the people of Israel. He relocated frequently to elude Saul while working to attend to the needs he identified.
First, he picked up short-term food supply and weapon from Priest of Nob Ahimelek. Second, he tried to escape into Philistine territory but realized on arrival that the Philistines could consider him a price catch instead of refugee. Therefore, he feigned insanity to win expulsion from the city. Third, he escaped to the cave of Adullam in Judah within close proximity of the Valley of Elah, site of his famous confrontation with Goliath. There he felt safe long enough to receive members of his family and gather a force of four hundred followers. Fourth, he moved to Moab, where he negotiated refuge for his parents with the king of Moab. He intended to take refuge in a stronghold in Moab, but Prophet Gad advised him to return to Judah. Therefore, he moved to his fifth stop in the forest of Hereth in Judah.
Every person likely has experienced unexpected termination of events that appear initially to be progressing toward a glorious accomplishment but end without reaching the expected breakthrough. A similar situation occurred for David, when he had to depart abruptly from Saul’s army to escape a threat to his life. David evaluated his judgment by assessing how Saul felt about him. If Saul was determined to kill him, then his only option would be to depart. However, if Saul really didn’t want to kill him, then he should stay and continue his army service. He consulted with Samuel and then with Jonathan and concluded he was no longer safe within proximity of Saul. Therefore, he departed and ended a career that hitherto appeared to be his path to kingship.
Every person likely has experienced unexpected termination of events that appear initially to be progressing toward a glorious accomplishment but end without reaching the expected breakthrough. The termination could result in disappointment and confusion, making the person wonder if God was with him/her after all. Many people probably have personal examples to share. However, we forget personal examples for now and instead discuss an example from the life of David to understand how he responded in the situation and consider how the principles of his response could apply today.
Recall from our previous study under Growing Reputation and Pains for David that David’s position as a high-ranking officer and commander in Saul’s army provided him opportunities to demonstrate leadership and grow reputation as potential future king of Israel. He cherished the opportunities as his positive reputation grew rapidly among the people. His service in Saul’s army appeared to define a clear path to becoming king of Israel. However, the service ended abruptly without leading directly to David becoming king. The service ended because Saul sought to kill David. Realizing his life was in danger within any proximity of Saul, David left the service to keep away from Saul.
But he didn’t leave the service as soon as he suspected that Saul wanted to kill him. He verified his judgment to determine the risk better before he departed. His actions indicate he would have wanted to stay if he could but departed because he determined he had to leave. He had to leave to avoid being killed by Saul. We discuss David’s experience to understand better how a person should respond when a promising path terminates without the expected breakthrough.