The Steps of the Righteous

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David’s efforts to avoid Saul took him to some unlikely places. By the time we come to the end of 1 Samuel, David is living among the Philistines. Hardly a comfortable spot to be in considering that he had been responsible for their defeat against Israel when he killed Goliath. The relations between the Israelites and the Philistines had never been cordial and many among the Philistine leaders would have been happy to put David’s head on the end of a pole and display it from the walls of Gath.

However, this was where the Lord sent David and it was here that God protected David from Saul’s plots to kill him. When we get to 1 Samuel 29 we find David faced with a case of conflicted loyalties. Achish and the Philistines are preparing to go into battle against the Israelites. David, as a subject of Achish, would be expected to support the Philistine king in this effort. But some of Achish’s key men were not happy about the prospects, feeling that David might turn against them in battle since he was an Israelite. They remembered only too well the famous refrain that had followed David since his early years in the limelight: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands” (29:5).

So Achish listened to his leaders and told David and his men to return to Ziglag and not to participate in the battle (29:6, 7). David was eager to go with Achish (29:8) but at the time he had no way of knowing that this battle would result in Saul’s death. On several earlier occasions David had had the opportunity to kill Saul and had refused because he did not want to harm the man whom the Lord had made king of Israel. By making sure that David did not participate in this battle, the Lord was preventing him from participating in Saul’s death (1 Samuel 31:1-5) in any way.

Neither did David know what was happening in Ziglag. While he was with Achish, his city had been burned and all its inhabitants and possessions taken by the Amalekites (1 Samuel 30). He and his men needed to get home in order to pursue their enemies and retrieve their families and belongings.

Psalm 37, written by David, describes the end of evil men. It also highlights how the Lord blesses a good man who lives among evil men, and reminds us of the importance of trusting God and walking righteously among the unrighteous. David lived that experience continually, especially in his early years. The psalm is full of wonderful assurances, including the following:

The Lord delights in the way of the man whose steps he has made firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand…Turn from evil and do good; then you will always live securely. For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones…The wicked lie in wait for the righteous, seeking their very lives; but the Lord will not leave them in their power or let them be condemned when brought to trial…Wait for the Lord and keep his way. He will exalt you to possess the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it…The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him” (Psalm 37:23, 24, 27, 28, 32, 33, 3439, 40).

David’s early years were fraught with danger. Pursued by Saul, surrounded by the Philistines and threatened by the Amalekites, he discovered that God was sufficient to meet every need, including preventing him from innocently becoming part of a battle whose result would taint the kingship that was in his future.

We don’t always understand why God denies us certain things in life. But whether or not we understand, we can be sure that God’s actions are always in the best interests of the person who walks in righteousness.

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