My aim is to see your hearts burn. For that is what happens when we realise that all the Scriptures point to Jesus. Remember the road to Emmaus. The risen Jesus shows two disciples how their Scriptures revealed that the Messiah would suffer and then enter his glory. Later they recalled that their hearts were burning within them as he spoke to them.
This morning we see David—who has been anointed king but not yet ascended to his throne—on the run from his enemies. The Son of David was also a pursued man!
God provides (21:1-9)
David went to Nob. The tabernacle was there. On his arrival he comes up with a whooping big lie. He claims to be on a mission from Saul. What are we to make of David’s lie? Are we been told that it is okay to lie when the situation demands it? Not at all! The Holy Spirit is called the spirit of truth, and the devil is called the father of lies. The lesson is not about lying, but God providing for his king.
David is hungry and Ahimelech gives him the bread of presence—twelve loaves representing God’s covenant with the twelve tribes of Israel that were placed in the tabernacle each Sabbath. These loaves were a reminder that God sustains his people and supplies their needs. They were supposed to be reserved for priests, but Jesus will look back on this incident and apparently commend Abimelech for putting mercy above ceremonial law.
Read the gospels and you will see that Jesus recognised that his heavenly Father provided for him. In the wilderness he could tell the devil of his Father’s provision, declaring that ‘man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Matthew 4:4). If Jesus needed to be sustained by God’s word, how much more do we?
On Monday night in the Shannon small group, it became clear that one of our members had a warm relationship with the psalms. I am sure she could tell of times the psalms sustained her!
Before we move on to the next scene in the story, notice how gracious our God is to David. David is an imperfect representative of his great descendent. He is deceitful, but God still cares for him. Our God does not treat us as our sins deserve, but according to his loving kindness. Even though we are unfaithful, he remains faithful.
God rescues (21:10-15)
It is odd that having been given Goliath’s sword David would then go to Goliath’s home-place of Gath. It just shows how desperate David is. As one preacher says, ‘When Achish king of Gath is my only hope, I am in real trouble’ (Paul Williams). David is offering himself as an anonymous mercenary, but his enemies recognise him. ‘Isn’t this David …?’ So David acts like a mad man, and is sent away.
Interestingly, the one called the Son of David was also recognised by his enemies. In the synagogue in Capernaum a man possessed by an evil spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God (Mark 1:23-24).
One of the psalms that we read on Monday night, in the Shannon small group, was Psalm thirty-four. It was written around the time of this incident. There David says that God delivered me (4), blessed is the person who takes refuge in him (8), the eyes of the lord are towards the righteous and his ears towards their cry (15), when the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them from all their troubles (17), none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned (22). David knows that it wasn’t the quality of his acting that delivered him. God delivered him! Similarly, in the gospels we see God’s messiah will being kept safe from his enemies, until that moment where he voluntarily lays down his life to rescue his people. He is also attentive towards our cries!
God delights in the rejected (22:1-2)
David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam… All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader … (1-2). What a great picture of the church! Here is God’s anointed surrounded by the outcasts of society. When Jesus came the religious leaders could not believe that he could be God’s anointed, because he was a friend of tax-collectors and notorious sinners. They should have known their Scriptures better. The apostle Paul tells the Corinthian Christians to think of what you were when you were called (1 Corinthians 1:26). God loves to take broken people into his family.
God’s king shows compassion (22:3-4)
David then goes to Moab. Again, it’s a sign of his desperation. He had fought against the Moabites. Moab was where his great-grandmother Ruth was from. There he makes provisions for his family. He knows what Saul is like. He knows that they are in danger.
David is such a frustrating character to study. He can be so flawed. He can be a very imperfect representation of his famous descendant. We have seen him act deceitfully. We will see him acting murderously. Yet here he is acting like Jesus. In the midst of the crisis he cares for his family. In the midst of a far greater crisis, the Son of David, would look down from the cross, and entrust his mother to the care of John (John 19:27). We can trust the Son of David to have compassion to those of us he calls family.
God’s king can’t avoid the conflict (22:5)
Last week Kimberly told us that it was not easy to be a Christian teenager. Look at all these chapters taken up with David being pursued by Saul. They set a pattern. God’s messiah is being persecuted. God’s Messiah tells us that people will hate us as they hated him
Finally, look at God’s king going from the place of safety to that of conflict. David’s heart must have sunk when the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold. Go into the land of Judah.” So David left and went to the forest of Hereth (22:5). Again a pattern is set. As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem (Luke 10:51), where he would face the conflict and die for our guilt.