How long does it take for you to know that you’ve made a mistake? How long does it take for you to know that you’ve taken a wrong road?
It can takes from a few minutes to a few years. And for some, we may still be travelling on the wrong path and not knowing it.
I have this experience quite a few times. I drive to the same place every morning at about the same time each day. One day, when I need to go somewhere else, I find myself driving to the same old place. I was already halfway through the journey before I realised I’m heading towards the wrong direction. That awakening did come, but after 10 or 20 minutes.
That’s driving on the road, but when it comes to the journeys we take in life – the choices we make or the direction we take – that’s a different story. That awakening moment does not come easy and quick. It can take years before we realise we are on the wrong path.
It’s like the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15. It takes a pig pen to wake the younger son up to the fact that he has a great home. It takes some time with the pigs for him to realise he could spend time with his loving father.
Such awakening moments are very important. They are turning points in our lives.
• If we are on the wrong path today, then we must pray that these awakening moments come soonest, and not late.
• It will take a crisis to awaken David. God will have to take everything from him, before David came to the realisation that God is WHO he needs.
We saw last week God’s perspective of David’s time in the land of the Philistines.
• Today we are going to look from David’s perspective.
• Let me paint the context again and see how David got himself into this mess.
It starts with 1 Sam 27 when David decided that he would run into the land of the Philistines and befriend them.
• WHY? There is no hope of a safe-haven in Israel. “Even Keilah, the Israelite city I saved (1 Sam 23), cannot be my refuge.”
• Saul has rejected me. Israel has rejected me. Let me befriend the Philistines.
We learned 3 weeks ago that this depressing thought originated from himself. It wasn’t a right reading of the reality:
• God has anointed him to be King of Israel and God is preparing him for it.
• God has been protecting David despite the dangers, according to 1 Sam 23:14 “Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands.”
• So don’t let discouragement distort your perspective. Don’t be convinced by your own thoughts; be convinced by the truth of God’s Word!
David went into the land of the Philistine and befriended the King of Gath, ACHISH.
• He was able to gain his trust so well, that Achish made him his servant and then his bodyguard for life (28:2).
• Can you imagine this, David serving the Philistines? He started off as a fighter of the Philistine giant GOLIATH (1 Sam 17), now a servant of a Philistine King.
• They are enemies of Israel, but now it doesn’t matter. David has already built a home among them in Ziklag (land of the Philistines).
And then this very tricky situation happened - 1 Sam 28:1-2. The Philistines are gathering to war against Israel.
• Achish says, “You must join us. I expect you to, since you are now my men.”
• We really do not know what David was thinking. He went along and gathered at Aphek (way up North), with the rest of the Philistines army.
Achish trusted David, but not the rest of the Philistine rulers. They demanded that he leave. They do not want an Israelite group to be at their rear end.
• And by God’s grace, David and his men were forced to return home to Ziklag. By God’s grace because God would not allow David to fight his own men.
• David felt rejected by Saul, rejected by Israel, and now rejected by the Philistines.
David is really heading south, not just geographically, but emotionally and spiritually.
• But that’s not the end of his woes yet. When he returned to Ziklag, he found the whole city burned down.
• Let’s read 1 Sam 30:1-8. That’s the awakening moment!
God brought him to the rock bottom. He hit the pit and was forced to look up.
• The prodigal son is now in the pig pen – he lost everything.
• Amalekites took the opportunity while the Philistines are all gathered to the North, to ravage the South.
• They took everything – their families and flocks, and burned down the city.
• David and his men wept aloud until he has no strength left to weep.
1 Sam 30:6a “David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters.”
• David was rejected by Saul, by Israel, by the Philistines and now by his own men.
• Those who have stood by him for so long and over so many difficulties, now wanted him dead.
• David has no one to turn to, not even his family members. He has lost everything.
And then 30:6b adds this line: “But David found strength in the Lord his God.”
• This reads like a statement but it’s a very loaded line. Those of us who have gone through a crisis, a tragedy, a great pain, an illness, will understand what I mean.
• This is the turning point in the trajectory of David’s life in the land of the Philistines. For one year and four months (27:7) he has been here, David has lost sense of the Lord’s presence in his life.
• He had lived among the Philistines and served his enemies. He had almost gotten himself on the wrong side of the battle, fighting against his own nation Israel.
God brought him down to the pit, so that he could only look up.
• David has never encountered such a great defeat. He has been successful, even when he leads raiding parties to the surrounding territories (27:9).
• But now he’s bankrupt. He has come to the end of himself. He has lost everything.
God brought him to the end of himself, in order to turn him around.
• A.W. Tozer: "The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God's work within us."
A man was the sole survivor of a shipwreck. He was able to make a raft from some of the ship’s cargo and drifted to a deserted island. There he constructed a makeshift shelter and lived on what little food he had been able to salvage from the wreckage.
Time after time he tried in vain to attract the attention of a passing ship. Finally, he saw a ship approaching more closely and hurriedly lit a signal fire. To his dismay, the ship passed by and was quickly fading from sight.
Accidentally, the flames from the signal fire set the straw roof of his shelter on fire. The man watched helplessly as all of his provisions burned to ashes. All was lost, he thought. He didn’t see how his life could last much longer. But then he noticed that the ship which had passed by him had turned around and was approaching the island again. To his relief, he was seen by the crew and rescued.
Once on board, he went to the captain to express his thanks. He asked, “What caused you to turn around after you had already gone by me?”
The captain said, “We saw the smoke you made by setting your shelter on fire.”
The very thing that seemed to seal his doom was the means of his deliverance.
The tragedy was David’s salvation. God stopped him in his downward spiral!
• The crisis brought him to his knees and back to God. God is still around. He has not left him or abandoned him.
• God is his strength and hope; He has always been, just that David hasn’t been seeing it for a long time.
• God has to strip away all his resources and self-confidence, so that he could see his real need.
• He was rejected by Saul, by Israel, by the Philistines, by his own men, only to FIND GOD!
Do you know how much you need Him?
Corrie Ten Boom’s family (Dutch Christian family) were arrested during Nazi Holocaust of WWII. Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to a concentration camp and Betsie died in the camp. She said in THE HIDING PLACE that our understanding of God’s goodness is very shallow:
“Often I have heard people say, ‘How good God is! We prayed that it would not rain for our church picnic, and look at the lovely weather!’ Yes, God is good when He sends good weather. But God was also good when He allowed my sister, Betsie, to starve to death before my eyes in a German concentration camp.
I remember one occasion when I was very discouraged there. Everything around us was dark, and there was darkness in my heart. I remember telling Betsie that I thought God had forgotten us. ‘No, Corrie,’ said Betsie, ‘He has not forgotten us. Remember His Word: “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him.”
Nothing has change with regard to His goodness and His love towards you!
Corrie Ten Boom: “You may never know that JESUS is all you need, until JESUS is all you have.”
• When Jesus is all you have, then and only then do you discover that Jesus is all you need.
• Jesus is our ONLY Saviour. He came to MEET our greatest need – salvation from our sinful ways. He alone KNOWS our need – a transformed life.
Be wise. Don’t wait until a crisis happened, or when we are bankrupt in life, before we get to understand this.
• Don’t get yourself into the pig pen, only then to realise you have a great home and a loving Father.
How far down the road do you want to go before you know this?
Do you know how much you NEED HIM?
Sing: I NEED THEE EVERY HOUR