Why does God make us wait? While we are waiting how should we wait? This chapter describes a period of waiting. Fear of King Saul sends David into the wilderness where he begins to gather an army of outcasts. His brothers, who once considered him a nuisance, bring David’s parents with them and gather with David for safety. David takes his family and men into Moab and intends to stay there, but a prophet instructs him to return to Judea within reach of King Saul.
While Saul waits, he focuses on anxiety and retribution. He trusts no one and lives in constant fear. David has made no moves against Saul, yet Saul anticipates an attack any day. In his rage against David, Saul commands the killing of an entire family of priests. Doeg, the Edomite who carries out Saul’s orders, goes so far as to slaughter everyone in the hometown of the priests.
As I was reading the following verse caught my attention.
Then the king ordered the guards at his side: “Turn and kill the priests of the LORD, because they too have sided with David. They knew he was fleeing, yet they did not tell me.” But the king’s officials were unwilling to raise a hand to strike the priests of the LORD.1 Samuel 22:17 NIV
The kingdom of Israel was falling apart. Innocent people were being destroyed. Still there is hope. There are men of Israel very close to the King who stand for right. Their loyalty is to someone greater than the king. With his chosen men refusing to carry out his orders a foreigner volunteers and proceeds with the slaughter. I wish the king’s officials had demonstrated even more courage and protected the priests and their town. Still, their loyalty to God, and probably to David, foretells of a more peaceful transition of power than would normally occur. Even though Saul has lost his way there remain men in high position who continue to honor God’s law.
What About Us?
Israel was waiting for a new king and I think we get distracted by waiting for a new administration or Supreme Court decision to fix our country. In my mind there is only one answer to the suffering, chaos, and division that surrounds us. That answer is the coming of the Kingdom of God and the return of Jesus our true King.
Our leaders and social media are ripping us apart. Rather than promoting and doing good we focus on destroying what we perceive to be a threat. We suffer from the same insecurity that drove King Saul. This lack of hope leads us to view our neighbors as enemies. It also leads us to place our hope in the wrong things which will inevitably disappoint us.
We are entering the season of Advent and in some traditions the first Sunday features hope. We must be people of hope. The birth and resurrection of Jesus provide assurance that Jesus will come again and we will be raised to live eternally with Him. We hold onto promises that go far beyond the circumstances that can so easily discourage us.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”Revelation 21:3-4 NIV
Saul’s men did not abandon him. They continued to honor God and serve Saul for the good of their nation. I believe we must do the same thing. We must honor God and serve our neighbors for the good of our nation powered by the hope that we have in Jesus.