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).
“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.