Summary: Learning to do Wilderness Survival in today's Wilderness World.
Surviving the Wilderness
David did not go from the Hero Giant-Killer to King immediately. There was a wilderness chapter of about 10-12 years. David had immediately become hero, army leader, married to king’s daughter, best friends with king’s son. But there was one problem. King Saul, already mentally sick who became crazy with jealousy over David. David continued to become more popular, Saul more jealous. The cheer was “Saul has killed his thousands but David has killed his ten thousands.” So Saul planned to kill David. Though he did not know of it, he sensed God was on David’s side. The time had come that David must flee to stay alive. He must flee into the wilderness, the area around their land occupied by other tribes, Philistines and Amalekites.
Wilderness living is a familiar part of Bible stories, usually in a desert area. Moses, adopted by the king of Egypt’s daughter, fled to the wilderness after he killed a man. He spent many years herding sheep and raising a family in the desert. Moses encountered God in the wilderness at a burning bush that was not consumed. God called him to go from the wilderness to Egypt and lead his enslaved nation into freedom. He led his people through a wilderness, a desert, to their freedom. Much of the desert he led them through had been his home in the past. Israel, led by Moses, came to the edge of the Promise Land and, because they feared the fight needed to occupy the land, they wandered in that wilderness for 40 years.
Jesus began His ministry with baptism and His wilderness temptations. Paul, after his conversion, went back to Taurus and spent 3 years in his wilderness preparation to serve God.
You and I know something about “wilderness living.” Most of us have had those chapters in our lives. Some have watched a child or parent endure a long illness and die. Some have lost their jobs, have no place else to go to work, and suffer unemployment. Some have experienced a marriage break-up and divorce or a home loss. Some are experiencing the limitations of old age. Some have endured a self imposed wilderness with alcohol or drug abuse, personal attitudes, mental issues or moral conflicts. The wilderness is where you find people fearful, lost, defeated, hiding, wanting only to survive but don’t know how to. We know about wildernesses. How do we survive the wilderness days of life? Perhaps we can learn from David.
Read I Samuel 20:1
David fled the king’s palace, taking only the clothes on his back. He went from famous to fugitive, hero to hunted, well-fed to hungry, and an armored soldier to an unarmed, hunted man. There was one constant in his life – King Saul, who had a large army and information system to find out very quickly where he was. And the king wanted only one thing – his death.
Where do you go to escape your problems, avoid your enemies and calm your fears? There is a place called “no man’s land.” For David, it was this land beyond his country’s border. There was one problem there. His beliefs were that God and geography are connected so when you are out of your land, you are outside of God’s help. We have those places where you believe God is not present and cannot help us. Out of church, away from family, in the foggy land of alcohol or drugs, in the company of other’s living badly.
The wilderness journey is always a downward path. David had lost everything – his palace home, his wife Michal who helped him to escape, his best friend Jonathan who could not believe that his father Saul would kill David, his weapons and his confidence. His downward path included:
Desperation: He knew no place else to go or anyone who could save him from the crazy king.
Deceit: To get food, he lied to a friendly priest and caused the death of this priest and 84 other priests.
Deception: He on one occasion had to act like an insane man having a seizure to escape an enemy king.
Danger: He fled from cave to cave, hiding from the obsessed king who wanted to kill him.
And he was alone. Separated from his father and mother, wife and best friend, he had
escaped into isolation.
The wilderness is a lonely place, a place where we replay our mistakes, nurse our anger,
and always look for a safer, darker place. David spent 10-12 years in his wilderness.
Perhaps they matured him, prepared him to be king and brought him to a personal
relationship with God. That was the boot camp for him to be called “a man after God’s
There are always places we can call “turning points” in the wilderness journeys. As a