When we think of King David, maybe we think of his battle with Goliath, his reputation as king, or how he was called a man after God’s own heart. Those are great testaments of what God can do in the life of someone who trusts Him, but there was more that happened before David became king that laid the foundation for him to lead well. One lesson that stands out is how much David’s obedience during obscure seasons impacted the people he encountered.
Where we find David today, he had already been anointed by Samuel to become the next king of Israel. King Saul became jealous of David and consequently tried numerous times to kill him, resulting in David fleeing to the land of the Philistines. Ironically enough, defeating the Philistine warrior Goliath was what caused David to be brought to King Saul’s palace in the first place… and now he’s hiding out in the land of the Philistines!
The Impact Of Obedience During Obscure Seasons
Imagine being anointed by one of God’s prophets to be the next king of Israel, defeating a giant with nothing more than a stone and faith in God, being brought to live in the palace of the current king and becoming best friends with his son… to then be driven out into the land of your enemies. Talk about a build-and-shatter experience.
Nevertheless, David stayed obedient to God and it changed the lives of those he encountered. To name a few:
1. The four hundred men who gathered to David when he fled (1 Sam. 22:1-2).
These men came to David when they heard he was hiding in the cave of Adullam. 1 Samuel 22 describes:
“Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Now there were about four hundred men with him.” – 1 Samuel 22:2 (NASB)
Here’s David fleeing for his life, hiding in a cave, and running seemingly further and further away from the prophecy that had been given about his life. And yet, it’s here that God brings to him a group of people who were in need of a leader, people who had become isolated from the rest.
These men followed David’s leadership and end up going to battle with him. Even in David’s “wilderness,” he wasn’t alone. The necessary preparation that David needed in order to be king was still in motion.
2. Abigail, Nabal’s wife (1 Sam. 25, 30).
Abigail is first introduced in 1 Samuel 25. David had gone to Abigail’s husband, Nabal, to ask him for food and water for his men. David and his men had lived peacefully with Nabal’s men and protected them, but Nabal responds to David’s request with:
“Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men whose origin I do not know?” – 1 Samuel 25:11 (NASB)
Rude… Nabal had a reputation for being a rich but harsh and evil man (v. 3). In contrast, his wife Abigail was described as intelligent and beautiful (v. 3). David intended to destroy Nabal and all of his men when he heard of Nabal’s response, but when news of David’s plan reaches Abigail, she quickly gathered food and water and hurried out to meet David. Note how she speaks to him:
“She fell at his feet and said, ‘On me alone, my lord, be the blame. And please let your maidservant speak to you, and listen to the words of your maidservant. Please do not let my lord pay attention to this worthless man, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name and folly is with him; but I your maidservant did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent…
“’…Please forgive the transgression of your maidservant; for the LORD will certainly make for my lord an enduring house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD, and evil will not be found in you all your days.’” – 1 Samuel 25:24-25, 28 (NASB)
David responds to her:
“and blessed be your discernment, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodshed and from avenging myself by my own hand.” – 1 Samuel 25:33 (NASB)
Abigail asked for the blame to fall solely on her, then she throws herself in front of David’s plan in order to keep him from sinning. In doing so, she saved Nabal and his men, too.
Nabal’s heart failed him when he heard what happened, and he passed away a few days later. Hearing this, David asks Abigail to marry him and she accepts.
It’s the contrast between Nabal and her now husband David that touches my heart. Nabal was a harsh man, one she took the blame upon herself for in order to protect him and the men that he was supposed to be watching over. Within their first interaction, though, David already blesses her, her discernment, and how she kept him from doing something he would have regretted.
Even cooler? Nabal’s decision almost cost many people their lives, but if we keep reading to 1 Samuel 30, we see that David pursued the Amalekites after they took Abigail and the other women and children captive. Nabal put Abigail in danger, but David blessed and protected her. Can you imagine how much relief Abigail must have felt as a result of David’s obedience?
3. The Egyptian man left behind by the Amalekites (1 Sam. 30:11-16).
As David and his men pursue the Amalekites to rescue their women and children, the men come across an Egyptian man who served one of the Amalekites. The Egyptian man was sick, so the Amalekite left him behind. When David found him, he gave the Egyptian man food and water until “his spirit revived” (v. 12).
David asks for the man’s help in tracking down the Amalekites, and the man agrees:
“Then David said to him, ‘Will you bring me down to this band?’ And he said, ‘Swear to me by God that you will not kill me or deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will bring you down to this band.’” – 1 Samuel 30:15 (NASB)
This man was left behind without food or water, but David’s obedience to God’s direction and his integrity to rescue those who had been taken captive led David to helping this man too.
As the man brought David to the Amalekites, he had David’s word that he would not be returned back to the one who abandoned him. Instead, he was free and strengthened to live.
David’s Integrity When The Path Wasn’t Clear
In each of these cases, David was brought face to face with people he otherwise wouldn’t have met had he gone straight from being anointed to becoming king. And all of this David did without being certain of what the next steps would look like:
“And David went from there to Mizpah of Moab; and he said to the king of Moab, ‘Please let my father and my mother come and stay with you until I know what God will do for me.’” – 1 Samuel 22:3 (NASB)
“Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.” – 1 Samuel 30:6 (NASB)
David didn’t wait until it was time to be king before he grew in discipline, integrity, and total reliance upon God. Instead, it was a part of who David was, and God continued to develop and shape David into who he needed to be to steward his future role as king well.
Obedience In Every Season
What an encouragement David’s story is! There are so many other details that God pulled together throughout David’s life, but even just these show how meaningful obedience is regardless of our circumstances – Not only for us, but for those we encounter too.
The journey is just as important as the destination we are hoping to someday reach. May we steward each step well!
Here’s to our journey!