This is a simple story. David flees King Saul and asks for food and weapons. He is given both and flees to what he hopes will be a place of safety. He intends to hide in Philistine territory, but is recognized and has to pretend to be insane to survive. I don’t understand why the famed conqueror of the Philistines would think he could hide in their territory. Maybe this reveals how greatly he fears King Saul. Regardless, he will soon flee to the wilderness.
As the story begins, David’s reputation precedes him forcing Ahimelek the priest to overcome his fear and open doors to provision that would be closed to anyone else. In the second case David’s reputation also precedes him and results in a different kind of fear that forces him to flee again.
What About Us?
David’s reputation and relationships provide resources for his flight even though helping David is considered treason to Saul. Maybe that is the point. We are presented with choices every moment of every day. The choices we make demonstrate our values. Ahimelek chose to help David over strict adherence to the law and in spite of fear of Saul. He may not have realized it at the time, but it was a life and death decision.
The Philistines provided safety from King Saul, but viewed David as a threat and quickly sent him away. I would have expected the Philistines to immediately kill David, when instead the King of Gath simply sends him away. Possibly the Philistines feared reprisal from the Israelites if they were to kill their hero.
The priest focuses on David’s need and supplies it. The King of Gath focuses on his needs and sends David away. If I focus only on myself and life and death, pain versus pleasure, risk versus safety, or anything other than what love for God and my neighbor require I will often make a selfish and ungodly decision.
The fall wired us think of ourselves first. This is not always a bad thing. Many times, our fight or flight instinct saves us from injury or death. On Saturday morning we were driving to the farmer’s market and enjoying a pleasant conversation to begin our day. The light turned green before we reached the intersection and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a car speeding along the cross street to the intersection. I was certain they were not going to stop and would hit us if we did not immediately stop so I yelled “Whoa!” My wife, who was driving, did not stop. What I did not realize was that a large pickup truck was speeding up behind her and would have certainly hit us if she had responded to my warning.
God was good to us and there was no collision. The car running the red light swerved to avoid the pickup truck that had sped around us and positioned itself between us and the speeding car. We were shaken, but safe. The driver of the pickup truck was shaken enough that he stopped his truck in the middle of the intersection and got out of his car to express his feelings. It was a very close call for all of us.
This was supposed to be a simple story with an easy to write blog. Instead, I am still processing a number of thoughts related to the interactions described in this chapter. Did fight or flight exist before the fall? My first response is no. There were no threats in the Garden of Eden, except for God’s prohibition regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. From that perspective I suppose that Satan was a threat. It appears that Adam and Eve did not know to fear either God or Satan and were easily deceived. They should have chosen to flee to God who loved them.
Sometimes self-preservation is the answer that expresses the greatest love for God and others. Putting on the oxygen mask first before taking care of others around you is essential during a loss of cabin pressure. If we do not care for ourselves, we will be unable to care for others. However, we will often be confronted with a situation where God calls us to give out of His love for us and that might involve risking our life. Saving others may involve great cost to us. These situations are where our relationship with Jesus is tested.
Finally, I cannot easily judge another’s decision because I do not share their experience, even if I am only on the other side of the car. Judging other people’s relational decisions is even more difficult.