John Ecob 

WHEN AN AUSTRALIAN POLITICIAN  coined the phrase, Life wasn’t meant  to be easy, I suspect David stood up in  heaven and shouted, Amen and Amen! 

David would hold the most exalted place  next to the Lord Jesus among all the Old  Testament saints. His name appears  over 1,000 times in the Old Testament  but life was anything but easy for David  from his childhood till he was exalted to  the throne of Israel and all his life he had  great trials. 

David wasn’t perfect but he had a heart  for God and the Bible says that this set  him apart from others. When he failed,  he was humble enough to confess it and  to walk sincerely with his Maker. Most of  us would have given up if we had half the  trials that befell David. 

When Samuel was told to anoint one of  Jesse’s sons to be king of Israel he went  to Bethlehem and asked Jesse to call all  his sons. David wasn’t called. 

David was left out in the wilderness  minding a few sheep. And it was only  a FEW sheep. David was not entrusted  with all the flocks of Jesse; just a few  sheep in the wilderness where he was  exposed to attacks from wild beasts and  robbers. 

When he was sent to the Valley of Elah  to take supplies to his brothers in King  Saul’s army, Eliab his eldest brother was  angry with him and told him to go back  to the few sheep in the wilderness! It is  obvious that David wasn’t considered an equal with the other sons of Jesse and  there is every indication that his mother  was a Moabitess. He was conceived out  of wedlock for he said, “In sin did my  mother conceive me” (Ps.51:5) and he  said, “I am become a stranger (Gentile)  to my brethren” (Ps.69:8).  

But David lived and walked with God  even from an early age. When he heard  the Philistine giant, Goliath, challenge  the armies of the Lord he instantly  volunteered to fight him. Saul and his  men of war were afraid but this stripling  lad was so incensed that this giant  should defy the Lord’s armies he boldly  confronted the giant with five stones in  his sling pouch and his faith in God. 

As Goliath saw David coming toward him  he was insulted; he cursed David in the  name of his gods and “disdained” him.  Goliath didn’t even draw his sword out of  its sheaf; he intended to smite David with  his long spear and said he would feed his  flesh to the birds. 

When the triumphant Israelite army  returned from the battle that ensued,  the women cried, “Saul hath slain his  thousands and David his ten thousands”  (1Sam.18:7) and from then on David was a  marked man. 

Soon after David was playing his harp in the King’s palace and Saul threw a javelin  at him but David escaped (1Sam.18:11). 

King Saul had promised his eldest  daughter to the man who slew Goliath  but so great was his jealousy of David  that he devised a plan to have him killed.  He offered David his younger daughter  Michal on condition he paid a dowry; the  dowry was 100 foreskins of Philistines  and he hoped that David would be killed  by the Philistines. 

When David turned up with 200 foreskins  of Philistines Saul had to give Michal to  David to wife. When Jonathan reasoned  with his father Saul changed his mind  and David was reinstated to the palace  where he played his harp for the king  (1Sam.19:7). 

Then war again broke out with the  Philistines and David went out as the  Captain ot the Lord’s army to defeat the  Philistines. On his return to the palace  he again played his harp before Saul and  escaped another fit of rage. He dodged  another javelin. That night the order went  out that David must be killed and soldiers  were sent next morning to David’s house  but Michael had let him out of the window  during the night and delayed the soldiers  saying David was sick in bed. 

David fled to Samuel in Ramah and they  both went to Naioth. When Saul went to  Naioth the Spirit of God came upon Saul  and he prophesied (1Sam.19:24) while  David went to Jonathan in fear of his life  (1Sam.20:1). He told Jonathan, “There is  only a step between me and death!” 

About that time there was a yearly  sacrifice and David was expected to  attend but he was in fear of his life and  asked Jonathan to check out his father’s  attitude toward him before he ventured to the feast. 

When Saul realised that Jonathan was a  friend of David’s he threw his javelin at  Jonathan and missed again. So Jonathan  went to David in the field as arranged and  David fled to Nob where the priests of the  Lord were located at the Tabernacle. He  took Goliath’s sword and some of the  shewbread and fled to a Philistine city,  Gath, seeking asylum with King Achish. 

When the people of Gath saw David and  Goliath’s sword they were unhappy and  David had to pretend to be mad so Achish  let him out of the city and he escaped  (1Sam.21:10-15) to hid in Adullam’s Cave  where he was joined by his brothers,  his father Jesse, and his mother. At this  time 400 men had gathered in support of  David.  

Meanwhile Saul pursued David to Nob  and had 85 of the priests of the Lord slain  for supporting David; only one priest,  Ahimelech, escaped to tell the tale to  David (1Sam.22:18). 

The situation was extremely dangerous  and David took Jesse and his mother to  the King of Moab requesting they remain  there under his protection. Ruth, the great  grand-mother of David was a Mobitess. 

The ranks of David’s men swelled to 600  and when the Philistines attacked the city  of Keilah in Judah David enquired of the  Lord if he should defend them. The Lord  told him to go up and he delivered the  people of Keilah. When Saul heard that  David was at Keilah, David, with his men  had to flee into the Judean wilderness  because the men of Keilah would have  delivered him into the hands of Saul.  Then David fled with his men into the  wilderness of Ziph south-east of Hebron  where he hid in a wood (1Sam.23:15). 

At this time Jonathan came to David  and “strengthend his hand in God”. He  reassured him that one day God would  give him the kingdom of Israel. But  Saul was seeking David and when the  Ziphites divulged David’s whereabouts in  the wilderness of Ziph, David fled to the  wilderness of Maon south of Hebron.  

At this time word came to King Saul that  the Philistines were invading the land  and he had to withdraw and David took  his band of men to Engedi on the western  shore of the Dead Sea. 

Again Saul took 3,000 soldiers and  pursued David at Engedi where he and  his men were in a cave. Saul entered  the cave to sleep there that night.  Unbeknown to Saul during the night  David cut off a piece of Saul’s skirt and  next morning when Saul had left the cave  David called out after him and showed  him the piece of his skirt. 

Saul realised that David could have killed  him and wept. He said, “thou shalt surely  be king and the kingdom of Israel will be  established in thine hand” (1Sam.24:20). 

David took his men south near to the  border of Egypt into the wilderness of  Paran where they protected the flocks  of the men of Israel from robbers and  wild beasts. One of these flocks was  owned by Nabal who lived in Mt Carmel  so when the shearing time came David  sent a message to Nabal requesting  compensation for the protection  rendered to his shepherds. 

Nabal refused, became angry and had a  heart attack and died. His wife Abigail  became one of David’s wives. 

Again the Ziphites betrayed David’s  whereabouts to Saul who pursued him  

into the wilderness of Ziph. That night  Saul slept in the wilderness and David  went with Abishai into Saul’s camp. They  removed Saul’s spear and cruz of water  out of the camp and in the morning called  out from a safe distance and asked that  Saul send one of the young men over to  collect the spear and cruz. 

Again Saul confessed “I have sinned …  I have played the fool, and have erred  exceedingly” and withdrew (1Sam.26:21). 

The strain was telling on David and he  said, 

“I shall now perish one day by the  hand of Saul: there is nothing better  for me than to escape into the land of  the Philistines.” 

So David took his band to Gath and dwelt  with the Philistines until the wickedness  of the Philistines caused him to ask  Achish to give him a town away from  Gath. Achish gave him Ziklag about 20  kilometers east of Gaza and Saul ceased  to pursue him. 

In Philistine country David still followed  the Lord but it was difficult to associate  with idolators who also were much into  witchcraft. He appreciated the protection  Achish could provide but he had to  conceal his activities. When the Lords  of the Philistines decided to invade the  land of Israel Achish expected that David  would join them and David would have  gone with Achish except that God caused  the Lords of the Philistines to object and  ask that David not be permitted to go  with them to the battle. 

So David and his 600 men returned to  Ziklag only to find that the Amalakites had  burned the city and taken their wives and  children captive. When they discovered  this, his own men were in a state of shock and wanted to blame David. They even  wanted to stone him! 

David’s men were weary after three days  on the hoof so he left 200 to guard their  “stuff” and he took 400 to pursue the  Amalakites. He recovered all and took a  great spoil but when he wanted to share  it with all those who remained by the  stuff, the 400 complained. 

Saul’s final battle with the Philistines on  Mount Gilboa brought about his death  and so David went to Hebron where he  was crowned king of Judah and this led  to a long war – 7 years – between the  house of David and the house of Saul. 

When Abner who was the captain over  the house of Saul decided to deliver the  entire kingdom to David he was murdered  by Joab outside the gate of Hebron and it  was only after Saul’s son, Ishbosheth was  murdered that all 12 tribes finally were  ruled by David. 

But that was not the end of David’s  troubles. He sinned with Bathsheba and  their child died. One of his sons raped his  sister and Absalom took the law into his  own hands and killed the guilty brother.  Then Absalom went to dwell at Geshur  where his mother’s father was king. He  later returned and raised an insurrection  against David. The nation was divided  – David fled – but David’s men prevailed  and Absalom perished in the conflict. 

Life wasn’t meant to be easy! David  found it so yet his name appears more  than 1,000 times in the Old Testament  scriptures because at the very beginning  God said, “Man looketh on the outward  appearance, but the Lord looketh on the  heart” (1Sam.16:7). 

Some of David’s problems were the fruit of his own doing but much was ordained  by God to shape a man whose lineage  would include the Son of God; God in  human form coming into the world to  die and shed His blood to pay the price  for the sins of the whole world. And in  a future day when Christ establishes His  millennial kingdom David will again reign  over his people (Ezek.34:23-24;37:24-25;  Jer.30:9; Hos.3:5; Amos9:11;). 

God uses the difficulties of this life to  shape and fashion our lives so that the  purposes of God can be fulfilled in us. 

Job found it true. Paul did likewise and  every one of us will find it true in our  experience. 

Let us also 

“glory in tribulations also: knowing  that tribulation worketh patience; And  patience, experience; and experience,  hope: And hope maketh not ashamed;  because the love of God is shed  abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost  which is given unto us” (Rom.5:3-5). 

Paul wrote: 

“We are troubled on every side, yet not  distressed; we are perplexed, but not in  despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken;  cast down, but not destroyed; 

Always bearing about in the body the  dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also  of Jesus might be made manifest in our  body … but though our outward man  perish, yet the inward man is renewed  day by day. For our light affliction,  which is but for a moment, worketh for  us a far more exceeding and eternal  weight of glory(2Cor.4:8-17). 

God doesn’t give us what we can handle.  He helps us handle what we are given so HE CAN BESTOW GREATER REWARDS  AT THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST.