What David teaches us about how to conduct ourselves when being hunted

First of all, thank you so much. Even though I have been off of facebook (and will remain gone until December 26) and wasn’t able to directly support the process, you got the word out and helped me to give away 555 more copies of my book on Kindle (no, I didn’t make that number up). So far, we have been able to give away 1419 copies, with more to come next year when I renew my kindle contract! I am so grateful for your support and help in all of this, and I pray fervently that this book is helping people understand the character of our great God and King, our Father and Master.  It is such a privilege to be able to go before the world and teach about His character from the whole Word.  He deserves out praise and He deserves to be known.  Everything in our lives, everything we go through is secondary to promoting His glory through our behavior towards Him and each other.  Let us never fail to love and guard one another, as he loves and guards us.

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As I have been sharing lately, I have been teaching my sons from I Samuel for the past few weeks. And it is no secret that I love the character of David on the run, hiding in caves – an amazing man doing great things under terrible stress. I meditate upon him a lot because I see his character under persecution as what mine should look like but too often doesn’t. It is easy to lash out when wronged, but how did David handle the character assassination, the paranoia of king Saul, the actual attempts on his life, and the fact that people were aiding and abetting Saul’s attempts to hunt David down like a dog, or a flea (in David’s own words).

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If anyone knew the literal ups and downs of life, it was David. The young man came in from tending the sheep one day, only to get drenched with oil by the hand of the last of the Judges, the prophet Samuel, and declared king! And instead of putting on airs, he went back to the sheep — not unlike his predecessor Saul, who went back home to his father. David ended up in court not through his own efforts, but because of his musical talents!  He ended up fighting Goliath not because he rushed off to war, but because his father sent him to the front with supplies about 40 days later. He ended up a commander of men not because he sought it out, but because the king placed him in command. He ended up married to the king’s daughter because the king wanted David dead and had set a bride price of 100 Philistine foreskins, as David could never afford the bride price of a princess and yet also could not refuse the honor outright. David was honored by God, and being honored by God doesn’t mean that we will always do what is right, but it does mean that when people do wrong to us, it will often backfire in their faces if we do what is right (and sometimes even when we do wrong).

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Saul was absolutely God’s anointed; there is no question about that. But being God’s anointed does not mean that one is automatically right, just, or faithful. God’s anointing wasn’t a total character override, giving Saul no choice but to act according to the will of God. The Spirit does not possess the believer, as though it was a demon. The Spirit guides, but we have control over ourselves. Saul had every opportunity to get it right, and he had Samuel there to guide him (how many of us wish we had someone like that to help us out?), but he made evil choices which resulted in him losing the Spirit, taking on a demonic spirit, and succumbing to paranoia and fear. He spent years hunting David down like an animal, without cause, and even though he sometimes came to his senses and realized it, he never allowed his momentary remorse to lead him into true repentance.

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So, we have David who was accused without evidence; he was hunted, his allies were murdered, and he was treated with dishonor by the very people whom he was helping. What was David’s response? Was it a coup? Did he try to seize the throne? Goodness knows the kingdom would have been better off without Saul than with him. No, he did not move against Saul. In fact, we never see him working against Saul but only for the good of the kingdom, oftentimes behind the scenes quietly caring for shepherds and killing off the enemies of Israel, even while on the run. Not only was David often not honored by the very people he saved, but he was also forced to run lest they betray him to the king. Did David kill Israelites in revenge for their betrayal? No, he didn’t.  David kept on fighting for them. David was not perfect; he had his moments of weakness. He almost killed the household of Nabal (for refusing to honor him), he cut off the hem of Saul’s garment (an act that meant rebellion in the ancient world) – but in each of those cases he was brought to repentance.

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Righteous people, those with God’s own heart, have moments of great trial and testing and sometimes they make plans to do evil things and sometimes they even start down the road and sadly sometimes they even carry them out. The real measure of character is whether or not they can turn around once they have started. Regardless of what David did in his life, over and over again, even after doing great evil, he showed that he could turn around. He learned that lesson in the caves. In the caves is where David teaches us to be hunted without cause, and to not respond with evil. We need that lesson because there is nothing more tempting than to return evil for evil, and to even mistake that evil for righteousness. Most people would have said that Saul had an overthrow coming, and in the eyes of the world that might have been true, but God told David that he was the king and so David had to trust God to work out the details.

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Did David confront Jonathan about the danger he was in? Yes he did. Did David try to recruit Jonathan to his side? No he didn’t. Did David confront Saul about his accusations? Yes he did, years later after refusing to kill him when he had the opportunity. David never tried to build an empire; David ran from his pursuers and did the work of YHVH and people chose to follow him. Everything David did preserved the lives of God’s people, whereas Saul endangered their lives. David refused to be treacherous (before he was king), whereas Saul lived by treachery, David held his tongue as Saul ranted, David never took the kingship from Saul but Saul took David’s wife and gave her to another. Saul swore oaths to refrain from harming David, only to break them. David swore never to do evil to Saul and kept his oath.

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Saul was God’s anointed. The calling of God is without repentance, Saul sat as king until the day he died. People had a choice whether or not they wanted to follow Saul, but they didn’t have a choice as to whether he sat as king or not. That choice had been made by God. David understood that no matter what Saul did to him, that it was for God to remove him from the throne of Israel than to take matters into his own hands. Even though it took many years, God did remove him — but only after He had made David into the kind of man who knew how to respond to threats, disloyalty and slights to his honor without treachery. David had to become the kind of king who understood that the Kingdom is established on justice and righteousness, from the greatest to the least, and that to truly be a great king, one must exhibit the character of God. Saul was sadly never able to grasp that he wasn’t made king in order to be in charge for the sake of being in charge, he was king so that he could represent God and administer righteousness and justice to the people. The great kings that came after David did that, but the evil kings did not.

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Being hunted is a dreadful thing, but it is not the most important thing. Being hunted is what is done to us, and we cannot control that. How we respond to being hunted is quite another. Everything done to us can change us for the better or for the worse, only we can decide which outcome will prevail. Perhaps it would be good for us to see ourselves as kings and queens in training, when we are being mercilessly hunted, and in that way it will be easier to redeem these evil times. David had a choice, to continue to be hunted or to end it all by hunting down Saul and in the end he decided that it was better to be the hunted than to be the hunter.

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