Fleeing in the Flesh

Posted: October 15, 2009 in 1 Samuel

1 Samuel 20-21, “Fleeing in the Flesh”

When we left off with David, Saul had been trying to kill him in various ways. Saul was enraged that the kingdom had been ripped away from him & given to David, and furiously jealous of how the people saw David as being superior to their own king. Saul had thrown spears at him, tried to have the Philistines kill him, hired an assassination attempt by night – all of which had failed. David eventually fled to Ramah to find Samuel & tell him what was going on & then hid out at Naioth. Saul found out about this too, and personally pursued David to kill him…at which point God stops him in his tracks & makes him lay down naked & prophesy for hours on end.

We pick up with David fleeing Naioth & going back to Saul’s house to find Jonathan. Why? Couldn’t David keep fleeing from city to city? Surely yes – but he needed to let his best friend know what was going on, and he needed the protection Jonathan could give him. So at great peril, he goes back.

What we’re going to find is a mixture of the Godly & the carnal. Godly people doing God’s work through fleshly means. Does God bless it? Maybe yes, maybe no – He definitely uses it for His purposes, which is a marvelous testimony to the grace and provision of God.

1 Samuel 20 (NKJV)
1 Then David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and went and said to Jonathan, “What have I done? What is my iniquity, and what is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life?” 2 So Jonathan said to him, “By no means! You shall not die! Indeed, my father will do nothing either great or small without first telling me. And why should my father hide this thing from me? It is not so!”

A. Is David accusing Jonathan? Probably not…most likely David thinks Jonathan might be able to give him some information concerning Saul. Obviously Jonathan was in the dark about the whole thing…

B. Jonathan may be a bit naïve here (considering Saul hasn’t exactly been subtle with his attempts to kill David), but at least Jonathan believes the best about both his friend & his father.
__a. This is exactly what love does! (1 Cor 13:7) We need to be wise, but we always want to be willing to believe the best about people…

3 Then David took an oath again, and said, “Your father certainly knows that I have found favor in your eyes, and he has said, ‘Do not let Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved.’ But truly, as the LORD lives and as your soul lives, there is but a step between me and death.” 4 So Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you yourself desire, I will do it for you.” 5 And David said to Jonathan, “Indeed tomorrow is the New Moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king to eat. But let me go, that I may hide in the field until the third day at evening. 6 If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly asked permission of me that he might run over to Bethlehem, his city, for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the family.’ 7 If he says thus: ‘It is well,’ your servant will be safe. But if he is very angry, be sure that evil is determined by him.

A. The plan…
B. It seems that David is asking Jonathan to lie. Some have suggested that David really does have an excuse to go home, but this won’t the last lie David is going to tell in all this affair, so it seems it starts here. David is certainly within the will of God in trying to protect his life, but he’s going to go about it the wrong way.

8 Therefore you shall deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the LORD with you. Nevertheless, if there is iniquity in me, kill me yourself, for why should you bring me to your father?” 9 But Jonathan said, “Far be it from you! For if I knew certainly that evil was determined by my father to come upon you, then would I not tell you?”

A. Back in Ch 18, Jonathan & David had made a covenant together where Jonathan had taken off his royal garments & armor, and given them to David (showing that he recognized David was to be king, and everything he had belonged to David – and vice versa). Part of the aspect of the covenant was protection. If David was in trouble, Jonathan was obligated to protect him – and Jonathan willingly took this up.

B. Although it may sound like it, making covenants with one another isn’t just an ancient practice. Marriages are covenant relationships… Our very salvation is based in a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ! … … The Son of God has made a covenant with you & He’s NOT going to break it! We are under HIS protection – and we can call out to Him in our time of need.

10 Then David said to Jonathan, “Who will tell me, or what if your father answers you roughly?” 11 And Jonathan said to David, “Come, let us go out into the field.” So both of them went out into the field. 12 Then Jonathan said to David: “The LORD God of Israel is witness! When I have sounded out my father sometime tomorrow, or the third day, and indeed there is good toward David, and I do not send to you and tell you, 13 may the LORD do so and much more to Jonathan. But if it pleases my father to do you evil, then I will report it to you and send you away, that you may go in safety. And the LORD be with you as He has been with my father.

A. What Jonathan promises to do…
B. Note the blessing. The Lord God had indeed been with Saul; now Jonathan recognizes that the anointing of God was upon David. … Jonathan isn’t concerned about himself; he seeks the will and glory of God…

14 And you shall not only show me the kindness of the LORD while I still live, that I may not die; 15 but you shall not cut off your kindness from my house forever, no, not when the LORD has cut off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.”

A. Going to be very important in the life of Mephibosheth later…

16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “Let the LORD require it at the hand of David’s enemies.” 17 Now Jonathan again caused David to vow, because he loved him; for he loved him as he loved his own soul.

A. Renewed the covenant…
B. Some liberal scholars have criticized this, using it as “proof” that David had a homosexual relationship with Jonathan. It’s a perverted interpretation based out of the perversion of their own hearts. The love between Jonathan & David is nothing less than holy & upright. It’s the love of a friend who’s closer than a brother… LXX translates it as “agape”; the selfless covenantal serving type of love…

C. Who do you love as your own soul? Your spouse? Your children? Hopefully your God! … This is the essence of the Great Commandment – Mark 12:30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. [] We are to love God with all that we have & all that we are… This kind of covenant relationship is what the God of all the Universe desires with you. What an honor & privilege! May we never take it for granted…

18 Then Jonathan said to David, “Tomorrow is the New Moon; and you will be missed, because your seat will be empty. 19 And when you have stayed three days, go down quickly and come to the place where you hid on the day of the deed; and remain by the stone Ezel. 20 Then I will shoot three arrows to the side, as though I shot at a target; 21 and there I will send a lad, saying, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I expressly say to the lad, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you; get them and come’—then, as the LORD lives, there is safety for you and no harm. 22 But if I say thus to the young man, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you’—go your way, for the LORD has sent you away. 23 And as for the matter which you and I have spoken of, indeed the LORD be between you and me forever.”

A. Plan for communication…very clear instructions…

24 Then David hid in the field. And when the New Moon had come, the king sat down to eat the feast. 25 Now the king sat on his seat, as at other times, on a seat by the wall. And Jonathan arose, and Abner sat by Saul’s side, but David’s place was empty. 26 Nevertheless Saul did not say anything that day, for he thought, “Something has happened to him; he is unclean, surely he is unclean.”

A. Apparently Saul didn’t say anything the 1st night; assumed David had a good excuse for not being there…

B. BTW, why was David expected? He was the son-in-law to the king & member of the king’s court. Even if he hadn’t been anointed the next king of Israel, Saul wanted David to serve in his presence…especially at one of the national feast times. For David to be absent a New Moon feast would be akin to missing Thanksgiving dinner. This wasn’t just any-old-meal; this was a time his presence was expected.

27 And it happened the next day, the second day of the month, that David’s place was empty. And Saul said to Jonathan his son, “Why has the son of Jesse not come to eat, either yesterday or today?” 28 So Jonathan answered Saul, “David earnestly asked permission of me to go to Bethlehem. 29 And he said, ‘Please let me go, for our family has a sacrifice in the city, and my brother has commanded me to be there. And now, if I have found favor in your eyes, please let me get away and see my brothers.’ Therefore he has not come to the king’s table.”

A. Here’s the test… And Jonathan’s lie…

30 Then Saul’s anger was aroused against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? 31 For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, you shall not be established, nor your kingdom. Now therefore, send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.”

A. Unrighteous anger – in spades! … Outbursts of wrath that Paul warns us away from (2 Cor 12:20, Gal 5:20)…these are the works of the flesh & it’s further proof that Saul was not walking with the Spirit (despite the Lord using him for prophecy).

B. Notice the insults…Saul is heaping the worst kinds of insults he can come up with upon his 1st born son. Basically calling him an illegitimate child, because ‘surely no son of Saul would do such a thing.’

32 And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said to him, “Why should he be killed? What has he done?” 33 Then Saul cast a spear at him to kill him, by which Jonathan knew that it was determined by his father to kill David.

A. Saul just tried to kill his own son in his uncontrolled rage! …

34 So Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and ate no food the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, because his father had treated him shamefully.

A. Note the difference; Jonathan had a righteous anger… He didn’t spew insults at his father – he didn’t try to hurt his father. Saul’s actions were reprehensible, but Jonathan showed his righteous anger while still honoring his father (per the 5th Commandment). … Be angry & do not sin… (Eph 4:26)

35 And so it was, in the morning, that Jonathan went out into the field at the time appointed with David, and a little lad was with him. 36 Then he said to his lad, “Now run, find the arrows which I shoot.” As the lad ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. 37 When the lad had come to the place where the arrow was which Jonathan had shot, Jonathan cried out after the lad and said, “Is not the arrow beyond you?” 38 And Jonathan cried out after the lad, “Make haste, hurry, do not delay!” So Jonathan’s lad gathered up the arrows and came back to his master. 39 But the lad did not know anything. Only Jonathan and David knew of the matter.

A. Followed through with the plan. Jonathan added more to ensure David knew it wasn’t safe…

40 Then Jonathan gave his weapons to his lad, and said to him, “Go, carry them to the city.” 41 As soon as the lad had gone, David arose from a place toward the south, fell on his face to the ground, and bowed down three times. And they kissed one another; and they wept together, but David more so. 42 Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, since we have both sworn in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘May the LORD be between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants, forever.’ ” So he arose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.

A. Weeping over friendship or sin?? Or both? David was going to spend the next many years as a refugee & they both probably realized they’d never see each other again.

1 Samuel 21 (NKJV)
1 Now David came to Nob, to Ahimelech the priest. And Ahimelech was afraid when he met David, and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no one is with you?” 2 So David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has ordered me on some business, and said to me, ‘Do not let anyone know anything about the business on which I send you, or what I have commanded you.’ And I have directed my young men to such and such a place.

A. Another lie from David. Disturbing trend…
B. Is it right to do wrong, even for noble ends? No…the ends never justify the means. So what do we do when faced with seemingly impossible circumstances? Turn to the God to Whom nothing is impossible. Scripture makes it clear that no temptation has overtaken us to which God doesn’t provide a way of escape (1 Cor 10:13). God always provides the way of escape; we usually don’t look to Him for it. What should David have done? Sought the Lord 1st, and then approached Ahimelech with the truth, leaving the results to God.
__a. So what do we do if we’re in David’s situation, and we already lied about something that we thought we were justified in? The same thing as with any other sin: confess it to God, repent, and be done with it. Our God is a merciful God & He is faithful & just to forgive us through Jesus Christ! (1 John 1:9)

3 Now therefore, what have you on hand? Give me five loaves of bread in my hand, or whatever can be found.” 4 And the priest answered David and said, “There is no common bread on hand; but there is holy bread, if the young men have at least kept themselves from women.” 5 Then David answered the priest, and said to him, “Truly, women have been kept from us about three days since I came out. And the vessels of the young men are holy, and the bread is in effect common, even though it was consecrated in the vessel this day.” 6 So the priest gave him holy bread; for there was no bread there but the showbread which had been taken from before the LORD, in order to put hot bread in its place on the day when it was taken away.

A. What was the showbread? Also called “the bread of the presence” – 12 loaves to represent each tribe of Israel – always sat before the presence of the Lord in the tabernacle, remaining perpetually fresh. Showed the fellowship Israel was supposed to have with God… Ultimately symbolic of the body of Christ – God incarnate Who came to the nation of Israel & Whose body was broken for our sins.

B. No bread except the showbread & this was supposed to be reserved for the priests. The Law makes this perfectly clear – Leviticus 24:5 (5) “And you shall take fine flour and bake twelve cakes with it. Two-tenths of an ephah shall be in each cake. … (8) Every Sabbath he shall set it in order before the Lord continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant. (9) And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place; for it is most holy to him from the offerings of the Lord made by fire, by a perpetual statute.” [] By the strictest interpretation, David should not have been given the bread – but yet the Law does not specifically state that no one other than the priests can eat it. Giving it to the priests was certainly the normal practice, but between feeding a starving person & letting them die, the choice for Ahimelech was easy & understandable.

C. Priest gave David an opportunity (probably after inquiring of the Lord – 1 Sam 22:10); he took it…he certainly had not been with his wife since he fled, so he would have been considered ritually pure. … BTW, Ahimelech had already noticed David was alone – why did David say there were other young men? Some believe David is lying again here. It certainly is possible (considering his lies to this point), but it’s also reasonable to assume David came across some loyal men in the days he had already been on the run from Saul.

D. Why did God allow this? In demonstration of His mercy! Jesus specifically addresses this in 3 of the gospels… [plucking heads of grain – BIBLE: Matt 12:3-8] Question: was Jesus advocating breaking the Law? Finding loopholes in the Law? Of course not! Jesus perfectly fulfills the Law & said that not one jot or tittle of the Law would pass away until everything was fulfilled (Matt 5:18). Christ Jesus is not treating the Law lightly; rather He’s showing the heart of God IN the Law. Remember that the Law is simply our tutor to bring us to Christ (Gal 3:23)… The Pharisees had Jesus in their midst, and all they could do was carp on their overly rigid & legalistic interpretation of the very Law that Jesus gave them! They missed the whole point…
__a. We need to be careful of the same thing. Amen to reading the word of God – to memorizing the word of God – to following the word of God in everything He’s called us to do. But may we be very careful not to fall into the trap of Bible-idolatry. There are 3 Persons of the Trinity (not 4) – we need to remember that the Bible is subject to God; not the other way around.

7 Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before the LORD. And his name was Doeg, an Edomite, the chief of the herdsmen who belonged to Saul.

A. File Doeg away for next week; he turns out to be a murderous traitor…

8 And David said to Ahimelech, “Is there not here on hand a spear or a sword? For I have brought neither my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king’s business required haste.” 9 So the priest said, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, there it is, wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you will take that, take it. For there is no other except that one here.” And David said, “There is none like it; give it to me.”

A. Was it illegal to give David the sword as well? Saul will think it is…

B. Keep in mind this was a former weapon of the enemy, but now it has been redeemed for use by God’s anointed…

C. Do we need Goliath’s sword? No, we just need the sword of the Spirit – and there is none other like it!

10 Then David arose and fled that day from before Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath. 11 And the servants of Achish said to him, “Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of him to one another in dances, saying: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands’?”

A. Remember that Gath is enemy territory. Basically, David fled from Saul to go to the land of the Philistines – to the very people from which Goliath came. Not exactly the safest (or wisest) course of action…

B. Even the people of Gath had a better memory than David. They weren’t going to let him stay there without the consequences of answering for his past…

12 Now David took these words to heart, and was very much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. 13 So he changed his behavior before them, pretended madness in their hands, scratched on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva fall down on his beard. 14 Then Achish said to his servants, “Look, you see the man is insane. Why have you brought him to me? 15 Have I need of madmen, that you have brought this fellow to play the madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”

A. David the warrior – David the victor over Goliath – David the anointed king-in-waiting of Israel – THIS David acted like a madman & a fool to escape with his neck… Basically pretended to have uncontrolled fits of epilepsy…

B. David ended up writing Psalm 34 about this specific event – and nowhere in it does he give an indication that he was ashamed of acting like a fool. Instead, he gives God the praise for letting him out alive! [BIBLE: Ps 34:1-8] We ought to trust the Lord our God! He is good!

David seemed to trust the Lord’s promise (that he would one day be king), but it seems he didn’t trust the Lord’s methods during his time of trial. David had good reason to be distressed (!), so on one hand, it’s understandable why he lied & acted the way he did…we may have done the same things if we were in his shoes. It may be understandable, but that doesn’t make it right. At the end of the day, David had his life…but just barely, and had walked straight into the enemy’s camp in the process.

Is stress an excuse to fall back on our flesh? No. When we fall back into old habits – the fleshly way of doing things, we almost inevitably make things worse (hence ending up in Gath wearing Goliath’s sword!). With Paul, we can affirm that nothing good dwells in our flesh (Rom 7:18) – we need to remember that it is the deeds of our flesh to which we are supposed to die, through the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:13).

So if we don’t rely on our flesh during trouble, what DO we rely on? Jesus Christ! David finally got it when he was in Gath – Ps 34:6, “This poor man cried out, and the LORD heard him…” Had God gone anywhere? Was God any less able of hearing David in Israel than in Philistia? Of course not; David simply hadn’t yet called out. In His grace, God continued to protect David throughout all of David’s panicking; but David missed out on sweet fellowship, comfort, and guidance in the meantime.

As a born-again Christian, we have a far better promise than what David had… … Jesus even promised to send us the Holy Spirit as a counselor/comforter… … Are you relying upon Him, or are you trusting in your flesh?


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