Saturday, October 14, 2017

Testing Ground

And David rose and fled that day from Saul and went to Achish the king of Gath. And the servants of Achish said to him, “Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances,

‘Saul has struck down his thousands,
    and David his ten thousands’?”

And David took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard. Then Achish said to his servants, “Behold, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me? Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”

David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.

And David went from there to Mizpeh of Moab. And he said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and my mother stay with you, till I know what God will do for me.” And he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him all the time that David was in the stronghold. Then the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not remain in the stronghold; depart, and go into the land of Judah.” So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth. (1 Samuel 21:10-22:5)

With the sword of Goliath in hand, David flees his own kingdom to Goliath's home city, Gath.  So, David is essentially going back to the beginning of his ministry, seeking refuge in the very place he conquered for Saul.  Here we learn that after one has been delivered from the darkness, he cannot go back.  God uses the world as his sanctifying ground for us, to test us and put us through trials, so we can be transformed more into the likeness of his son.

1. Even the outside world can identify a believer.

Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest's house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:54-62)

2. The Christian bond is that of bitterness (discontent) of soul.  We are together not in our power but in our wretchedness. This is important to note, because the modern church is teaching that we are bonded in prosperity.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12)

3. The Christian is obedient to God's commandments, even in adversity.  Remember, David's great-grandmother Ruth was a Moabite.  Perhaps he was looking for that same honor in Moab's king.  He did find it, for his parents were safe during his time in the stronghold.

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:26-27)

This series of scenes show the believer's interaction with the outside world.  We learn that true believers cannot hide among them but are drawn to each other by their wretchedness in Christ.  However, we can utilize the world's assets for our benefit.  Luke 16:8-9 reads: For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.  God made the world for his children, and although its people are hostile to us, we can take care of our own in it, just as Christ did.

God put everything in subjection under his son, and so there is nothing that is not his.  We do not yet see everything in subjection under him, but we see Jesus in the scriptures suffer death so that through God's grace he might taste death for everyone.  Since all things exist not only through him but for him, Jesus brings his children to glory through suffering.  He sanctifies them through the world that exists and is subjected to Christ.  So, when we interact with the world, things may not go our way, like with David at Gath, yet we can be sure that God is sanctifying us.  He brings fellow suffering Christians together, and he gives us opportunities to obey his commandments in the playing field of the world.  We don't have to isolate ourselves.  As Christians, we are obedient to him, even as the world tries to tempt us and turn us away. These trials and tribulations test our faith, so that we may become perfect and complete, lacking nothing.