“Samuel said, ‘Why then do you ask me, since the LORD has departed from you and has become your adversary?’” – 1 Samuel 28:16 NASB
As we come to the end of the book of 1 Samuel, we see an interesting contrast between the book’s two main characters: Saul and David. While their paths have intertwined for some time now, we have been watching their relationship slowly unravel. They are on two separate paths, both of which are fully under the sovereign plan and direction of God. Saul’s path, even though he is king, will lead to his own destruction. And in spite of the fact that David is a fugitive living in caves and running for his life, his path will end up in blessing and exaltation at the hand of God.
Saul has been rejected by God. His failure to obey God has resulted in his rejection by God. God has removed His Spirit from Saul and things have degraded to the point where Saul no longer has the ear of God. He calls out to Him, but God refuses to answer. So he is left to consult a witch in an attempt to get some kind of direction regarding the eminent attack of the Philistines. Saul is in trouble. He kingdom is on the verge of collapse and he finds God silent. Even his plan to secretly seek out the help of this woman is a direct violation of the law of God. He had publicly banned all such people, but he knew of at least one witch he could consult privately. Saul’s life was marked by disobedience and compromise – twisting the rules to fit his fancy. But now he found himself rejected by God.
David, on the other hand, finds himself protected by God. Even though he has chosen to seek refuge with the enemy and is living a life of deception and lies, God is protecting him. Why? Because, in spite of his bad decision-making skills, David had a heart for God. He was a man after God’s own heart. He was still trying to do the right thing. He was fighting the enemies of Israel and attempting to honor the king of Israel at the same time. But David’s decision to live among the Philistines had finally caught up with him. Now that the Philistines were going to war with Israel, King Achish was going to expect David to “put up or shut up.” He was going to demand that David show his allegiance by fighting against his former countrymen. David had deceived Achish into believing that he was fighting against the enemies of the Philistines all along, when in reality he had been making raids on the enemies of Israel. All the while enjoying the hospitality and protection of the king of the Philistines.
But now things were going to get interesting. What was David going to do? How was he going to bluff his way out of this one? Fortunately, God intervened and protected David. He led the Philistine military leaders to reject David’s participation in their war effort. They didn’t trust him. So David was able to go home without having to compromise his position or risk his own life in what was going to be God’s punishment of Saul. This story is less about Saul and David than it is about God. He rewards the faithful and punishes the disobedient. God was working out His plan to perfection. He was in complete control. Saul seeks out the help of a witch, a person who consulted with the dead – in complete violation of God’s command. In reality, this woman had no ability to speak with the dead. Instead, her attempts to communicate with the deceased was probably a charade perpetrated by demonic forces. But in this case, God allowed her to actually speak to Samuel or at least a vision of him. That is probably why she is so shocked. God used this unlikely source to give Saul an unpopular message: his coming death.
God would also use the military leaders of Philistia to speak to David and protect him from the very trap in which he had placed himself. God was running this show all the way. David was protected. Saul was rejected. God brought both about. He is always behind the scenes accomplishing His will in His own way. We can’t always see it and don’t always recognize it. But He is intimately involved in our lives in much the same way. Do you see Him?
Father, thanks for this encouraging reminder of Your presence and activity in my life. You are there, each and every day, every step of the way. Help me see You more clearly with each passing day and trust You more with every aspect of my life. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men