We have moved to www.martinamcgowan.com

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What are we doing in Ziklag? (part 2)

If we keep reading, we stumble across a surprising fact about this episode of David's life. David’s compromise actually seemed to usher in a period of temporary peace and prosperity. Verse 4 tells us that Saul did indeed stop searching for David. Verses 5-6 record that David and his people were given the village of Ziklag to live in. I Chronicles 12 informs us that during this period many of Saul’s soldiers defected to David in Ziklag. Finally, verse 12 says that Achish king of Gath was very pleased with David.

On the surface, things look great. It looks like David has made a wise decision. One could argue that God is blessing David for going to the Philistines. For a period of weeks or maybe months I’m sure he felt justified.

But, there is a clear biblical principle at work here. Disobedience often results in a temporary lessening of pressure. Hebrews 11 speaks of “the pleasures of sin for a season.” Sure, David felt better for a little while. And, don’t ever let anyone tell you that sin isn’t fun. We all know from experience that the exact opposite is true. Sin is lots of fun and compromise is exciting. That’s why so many of us do it.

  • There’s a third result of David’s compromise. It led him into further sin. Here’s the other side of the coin. First there was discouragement, then there was desperation, then defection, and now further disobedience that leads to deceit and needless death.
Verses 8-11 describe the raiding parties that David would undertake while he was living at Ziklag. Ziklag was a tiny village off in the wilderness between Gaza and Beersheba. David would take his men and raid the villages to the south and southwest of Ziklag. But when Achish asked, “Where did you go raiding today?” David would answer, “I’ve been to the Negev of Judah,” which was south and east. The implication of David’s answer was that he had been raiding his own people Israel. Actually he had been going the opposite direction. But the purpose of the deception was to convince Achish of his loyalty, and it worked.

This doesn’t seem like such a big deal until you get to verse 11 where it says, “He did not leave a man or woman alive to be brought to Gath, for he thought, ‘They might inform on us and say, ‘This is what David did.’” So what started out as a plundering party ended in a bloody massacre.

But, why should we be surprised? This is what happens to all of us when discouragement leads us down the slippery slope to compromise. When David attacked those villages, he did it without God’s permission, without provocation, under false pretenses, and with unnecessary cruelty. David’s live is spiraling downward and out of control, and the worst is yet to come.

There is one final result of compromise. For David and his men, everything seems to be going great. In fact, it seems like God is blessing him more than ever before. Life is beautiful until the day David gets his notice that he and his men have been called up for duty. First Samuel 28:1 puts it this way: “In those days the Philistines gathered their forces to fight against Israel. Achish said to David, ‘You must understand that you and your men will accompany me in the army.’” Now we have a problem. Why do you think Achish had been so magnanimous in welcoming David’s defection all those months ago? He was collecting an IOU and now he is calling. To make matters worse, he names David as his personal bodyguard. That means that if the Philistines win the battle, it will be David’s duty, as the bodyguard, to kill the defeated king. This means that David will now be forced to do the one thing he has steadfastly refused to do—kill King Saul.

This is not what David signed up for. He never intended to get into this mess. In his little mind, going to live with the Philistines was just a temporary plan to buy some time and space. But now he is faced with the full results of his compromise. Unless God intervenes, he will be forced to fight against his own people. But that’s what happens whenever we live our life apart from God. One little step leads to another, one tiny compromise opens the door to another, and before long we find ourselves in too deep to get out. When that happens, we think, “It’s okay. I’ll make it.” But we know in our heart of hearts that we won’t!

By now, David owes too much to Achish to even think about backing out. He is the perfect picture of the carnal man trying to operate using his own resources.

So now the scene is set. The Philistines gather to war against the men of Israel. The soldiers gather in small groups, check their weapons, discuss strategy, and wonder when the battle will begin. Men are here from all the Philistine cities—Gath, Ekron, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gaza. They number in the thousands. This is no small skirmish. This is all-out war, and David and his men are bringing up the rear.

All goes well until one of the Philistines says, “What are those Jews doing here?” Then someone else says, “Get those guys out of here.” As the word of their presence spreads through the camp something like a small riot breaks out. The generals come to Achish and say, “What’s this man David doing here?” And they quote that little song that used to make Saul so mad, “Saul has slain his thousands, but David his tens of thousands.” They object to David being so close to them because they are afraid that he will turn against them in the heat of battle in order to regain Saul’s favor.

So Achish has to go back to David and say, “I’m sorry, but you can’t fight with us today. My men don’t trust you. Go back to Ziklag. We’ll let you fight in the next battle.”

There is an important lesson for us to consider at this point. David, a child of God, temporarily defects to the other side and then he discovers that the other side doesn’t want him because they don’t trust him either. Why? Because a child of God is always a child of God. The new nature within cannot be taken away even though it can be covered up and camouflaged by compromise. The believer who cuts himself off from the people of God soon discovers the people of the world don’t want him around either. So he is fated to spend his years in a kind of no-man’s land, half in the world, and half in the church. A man without a country.

The end is almost upon David and he doesn’t even realize it...

[conclusion tomorrow...]

No comments: