This is What Emotional Exhaustion Looks Like


Paran, as in the settlement mentioned in 1 Samuel 25. This is a Google maps image screenshot for Oct 1015 (Copyright belongs to Google, of course…)

This part of David’s story and the image above, brings this song to mind.

I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name,
It felt good to be out of the rain.
In the desert, you can remember your name,
‘Cause there aint no one for to give you no pain.   Dewey Bunnell, America

As King Saul’s unprovoked attempts to kill him wore David down, he moved further and further away from the centre of Isra’el, until in 1 Samuel 25 we see him and his supporters ekking out an existance guarding flocks in the centre of nowhere.

That is why I started with that map. Even now, Paran is in the middle of nowhere. It’s where you go when you’ve just had enough! The terrain screams desolation, hopelessness and misery.

Three thousand years ago, it was probably greener, but now it’s decimated by overgrazing. Paran is home to a small kibbutz and which the main industry appears to be selling solar generated power back to the grid. At least deserts are good for something… They are inhospitable places to hide, especially when you are isolated from your family, friends and community and are completely cut off from your centre of worship.

Many of us have felt the frustration and exhaustion that David was experiencing after years of running from Saul. We are all pursued by situations which dog us, whether we deserve them or not, and problems which simply will not go away. At times like that, it feels like the only path to peace is to get as far away from the maelstrom as possible.

But where does retreat get us?

David did receive a blessing in the form of taking Abigail as a wife, but that incident at Paran also almost led him to unrighteous murder. Then as the weariness he was feeling didn’t lift, the next step was to align himself with his hated enemy, the Philistines, in the hope Saul would finally ease off. Saul would never risk crossing a Philistine border.

David did need to pull his life back together again. I am not criticising him. He and his men had wives, children, livestock and a need for a secure living place and income. He was up against an enemy who wasn’t as easy to overthrow as Goliath, and his spiritual life would have been heavily strained. This was a testing period for him in terms of his ability to lead his men and live in a godly manner. Only by the grace and providence of God, he would have completely failed.

However, running led to sin. You never take shelter with the enemy and long term, this led to David losing his heart’s desire: the right to build the temple at Jerusalem. He paid a high price for this mistake, one he could never have foreseen at the time.

This period in David’s life is a reminder for us all to face our problems, rather than distance ourselves from them. We need to continue to believe in God’s ability to deliver us and not falter, no matter what uncertainties and pain we go through.

Think long and hard before you run. It may be far better to stand your ground and continue to sing God’s praises, no matter how tired you become.


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The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
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Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.


Why The Bible Doesn’t Work As A Mythological Tale: King David

By Majumwo CC4.0 Licence

By Majumwo CC4.0 Licence

David fits the image of a hero. He potentially makes the perfect epic poetry type hero and his life does fit a perfect story arc. Does that make his life likely to be a fictional tale, or embellishment on the actual life of a man named David who was a King? Where does Scripture not fit myth?

While we associate non-Christians as being the ones who are the most likely to label Biblical truth as a moral tale or embellished story, Christians can also be found doing the same, as they do not believe that the Bible is the literal truth, or because the thinking of the world has affected them. Some of the saddest and most judgemental teachings I have seen on David’s life have come through theologians who are not saved, but have studied critical theology as an intellectual interest and have published books which don’t show any dedication to the spiritual character of Christianity. Thus they feel able to tear Biblical figures apart without mercy, and assign interpretations to Biblical events which aren’t in line with either the message or the sanctity of the Word.

For example, “King David His Reign Revisited,” by David L Wright. His work is written from a limited, biased standpoint, which is not in line with either the Jewish or Hebrew faiths. Wright teaches at Emory University as Associate Professor of the Hebrew Bible and has won awards for previous books. In his own words: “I enrolled in one of Reinhard Kratz’s seminars in which we analyzed the formation of the Sinai account in Exodus and its relation to Deuteronomy. In the very first session I realized how extraordinary biblical literature is and how fascinating it is to study it critically.”

“Most PhD students often have personal histories that prompted them to devote their lives to biblical studies. Nevertheless, these students usually know how to set aside, pragmatically, their personal religious convictions in order to create a space conducive to discussions with their colleagues who come from different backgrounds and have different commitments.” [Source:]

How sad it is that you can study the Word of God in such depth, and not let it touch your spirit.

In 2015 I wrote a blog post “Dames, Daggers and Dance: When History Forms It’s Own Perfect Story Arc” which looked at David’s life through the eyes of a story teller. I have been a writer since I was a child, and have always studied writing techniques. When studying David, I was surprised to see that the total accounts of his life form a story arc. It made me wonder, whether the concept of the story arc was built on literature or reality? However, it did not make me wonder whether David’s life was a fabricated legend and here’s why.

David’s life just doesn’t work as a story. Here is a short list as to why, based on the many frustrations I’ve gone through in studying David’s life.

  • Only the highlights and most necessary cautionary incidents, (useful for moral spiritual instruction,) have been told. It is like reading a biography retold in badly summarised dot points. There are far too many details missing which make parts hard to interpret and lead to heated debates. So much critical information about him is missing or unclear, I have nearly given up study in frustration several times. Trying to get a clear picture of key incidents is nearly impossible.
  • Pinpointing exactly when things happened, in what year and what age, is impossible, as is the correct order of events in 2 Samuel chapters 10-12 and 2 Samuel 23 to 24. Big events are written back to back, with no orientation as to how old David was, or how much time had passed. This is especially true of the Psalms.
  • You can only work out David’s motivations by going back to the Torah and carefully studying Leviticus and Deuteronomy in detail (preferably the whole Torah); then by going forward to the Psalms and fitting it all together in a cultural context… which also has to be researched outside of the Bible, to understand the history and culture. In a story, you are told what someone’s motivation is and why they act how they do.
  • The books of Samuel have multiple authors and David’s story is completed in 1 Kings (written by yet another author,) and reiterated as more of a political tale in 1 Chronicles by yet, another author. That fracturing blasts apart the possibility of it being written as an allegory.
  • It’s missing traditional narrative roles (such as ally and trickster), the people needed to push the tale forward into the next part,or give it more relatability. Also, God could fit many of the standard character roles, as David was close to Him, was helped by Him and powered by Him. That messes up the standard way deities are bought into legends.
  • David isn’t the hero of his life story, God is, which is not a normal format. Readers want the key figure to be either a hero, or an anti-hero. David hands all the glory to God and constantly points people to Him to meet all their needs. [2 Samuel 22-23]
  • If you use Joseph Campbell’s monomyth (The Hero With a Thousand Faces), it doesn’t fit good story telling structure for an epic tale. Campbell wrote his book based on the way legends have been recorded since the beginning of time, from every culture able to be studied. I have tried to fit David’s life into that structure, and it won’t mould in, in too many places. I couldn’t even take specific events and get them to form that iconic structure. For example, refusal of the call (David never did that); then the last seven stages don’t apply, as David never returns home with the prize, going back to normal life, and there is no clear point of single victory. It is also interesting to note that David is not mentioned in Campbell’s book as one of the studies legends. There is only an image of David and Goliath. I was sure he would be in there, but he’s not.


a) The most complete chronicle in David’s life is “David and Goliath,” which has become an iconic symbol in both faith, and the secular world. It neatly unwinds and then wraps up, but few other anecdotes from David’s life do. David’s greatest achievements are making the nation of Isra’el safe from it’s enemies and the building of the first temple. The remaining details of Isra’el’s journey to national safety are slim. You cannot recreate complete, engaging battle scenes and pinpoint a proper timeline of who, when and where, in the manner in which movies like Star Wars are made. We know a little about David’s achievements as a warrior, and a little about Benaiah, and a little about Joab, and a little about many characters… but not enough to build one complete character who we can understand. The Bible is just not meant to read as a legendary epic set of tales. It’s an historical account with greatly limited information.

Bathsheba by Francesco Salviati CC04 Licenced

By Francesco Salviati CC04 Licenced

b) As for David’s actions in returning of the Ark of the Covenant to the midst of the nation and the plans for building Israel’s temple, this part of his life is impossible to understand without knowing the full history of Israel up until this point, and studying the way surrounding nations worshipped at that time… then to top that off, the long timeline of related events has a deeply unsatisfying ending.

In 2 Samuel 5-7 we can see how much David wants to build the temple and has it planned and prepared down to the last detail… then it doesn’t happen until he is dead. Why? Because he obeys God… and we don’t know what he is obeying unless we pick the account which starts in 2 Samuel 6 up in 1 Chronicles 22. Did you know that David gave his personal wealth over to help fund the temple? Probably not, because the complete set of details are scattered, and is hard work to put together and then correctly interpret. The story doesn’t story.

c) As a final illustration of why David doesn’t fit together as a work of fiction, we need to look at David and Bathsheba. Again it is hampered by a lack of information. Arguments rage as to whether she baited him, or he took advantage of an innocent young girl. To make that incident work as a proper tale, you need clearer and more content, plus, to make David and Bathsheba work as a single piece of fiction, you need more elements to make a proper story and cohesively pull all the summary into a readable work.

The prophet Nathan called David out his sin, but he’d need a far greater role as a mentor. And where is David or Bathsheba’s best friend / sidekick to help move the tale along? The ambiguities which lead to heated accusations of rape would not be there. Every detail, including a clearer picture of David’s thoughts and motivation would be included. Including literary devices such as Solomon’s style of poetry in the Song of Songs would help too, but that does not exist. What we do have is an incident from David’s life which teaches us consequences. It is not meant to be romanticised and to do so, is to disrespect the intention the Word of God has in telling us about Bathsheba.

David is real, raw, flawed, inspirational, conflicted and cohesive, or in other words, as complicated as any human, which is why we relate to him. If you looked at any of our life stories, they would be just as muddied, hard to follow and complex. From the point of view of a fiction writer and a Christian, David reinforces my belief that the Bible is God’s inspired Word, not a man-made collection of religious propaganda.

“Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the nations,
And I will sing praises to Your name.
He is a tower of deliverance to His king,
And shows lovingkindness to His anointed,
To David and his descendants forever.” 2 Samuel 22:50-51

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

David, the Underdog?

underdogOne of the lessons that I struggle the most to learn is who I am in the Lord, and how valuable I am to Him. I can get so stuck in my problems, that I forget that the One who built and maintains the Universe, loves me and is on my side. When I think like that, I defeat myself, by letting circumstances defeat me. I become the underdog, fighting to survive against a world which is bigger than I can cope with. I forget that God is bigger than my problems. I know I am not alone in this struggle to feel secure and treasured; many of us grapple with the same issue.

One of the things that intrigues me about the story of David and Goliath, is that even though we know how it ends, (spoiler alert: *God wins through David’s courage,) we call David the underdog. In reality, David cannot help but win, because of God’s massive love for His people. I scratch my head and wonder why we label David like this, when we know the value that Isra’el has to the Lord.

Isra’el had a very special position on the Earth. “Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Isra’el.” Exodus 19:5-6 “I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear.” Leviticus 26:6

Even with promises like these, and the many testimonies of what God had done for Isra’el since Abraham’s time, Isra’el still forgot that they were a treasure to God, just as we do. [Ref. Genesis 22:15-18] By the time Goliath was threatening the nation, God’s beloved people were so displaced from their faith, that they had forgotten that God was there to help fight their battles. Knowing that, David could not possibly have lost unless he was acting in disobedience to the Lord.

“David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the LORD will conquer you… and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the LORD rescues His people, but not with sword and spear. This is the LORD’s battle, and He will give you to us!” 1 Samuel 17:45-47

If David knew what the outcome had to be, why, three thousand years later, haven’t we caught up with his thinking? It appears that we have this compulsion to label threats big and God as smaller than He is. We are no different than Isra’el, in that we let fear take over. God is poised and willing to fight for us, but we have to be reminded of that, in order to wrestle our fleshly minds back off their disaster-focussed auto-pilot.

If we place God first in all our circumstances, then we will never be an underdog. There is simply no way that can happen. Why? We are as great a treasure to the Lord as the nation if Isra’el, and God will never stop fighting for us.

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.” Ephesians 1:3-5 “… all belong to God, whether Jew or Gentile and we are all partakers of the same divine inheritance through grace. For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:12-13

So the next time something towers above you, making you quake in fear, let your Heavenly Father deal with it. You’re not an underdog. There is no way you can’t win.

I am going to finish by joining Paul in saying, “I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Now all glory to God, Who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:16-21
*Please note that I have said God wins, not that David wins, as all victories for Isra’el were won by God and the glory does not belong to any man. David agrees with me. In 2 Samuel 22:1-4 David wrote these words on the day the LORD rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul.
“The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my Saviour;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.
He is my refuge, my saviour,
the one who saves me from violence.
I called on the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and He saved me from my enemies.”

Not even a human warrior could care for Isra’el as the Lord did. This is a quick list of the battles the Lord won / engineered for Isra’el. Who else compares to this?

  • Crossing the Red Sea – Exodus 14
  • Victory over the Amalekites – Exodus 17:8-16
  • Promise to fight for the people – Exodus 23:27-31 and Deuteronomy 7:7-8
  • Jordan River dry crossing – Joshua 3:15-16
  • Fall of Jericho – Joshua 6:20-21
  • Ai – Joshua 8
  • Amonites – Joshua 10:11
  • North captured for Isra’el – Joshua 11:16-20, especially verse 23
  • South captured for Isra’el – Joshua 10:40-42
  • Deborah and Barak – Judges 4:14-15
  • Gideon – Judges 7
  • Samson – Judges 16, especially verse 30
  • Ark of the Covenant against the Philistines – 1 Samuel 7
  • Jonathan against the Philistines – 1 Samuel 14
  • David and Eleazar son of Dodai – 2 Samuel 23
  • David and Shammah son of Agee – 2 Samuel 23

Battles Won for Judah

  • God defeated the army of Jeroboam as Abijah and his army trusted God. 2 Chronicles 13
  • God saves King Jehoshaphat in battle – 2 Chronicles 18
  • Battle with Ammon, Moab, and some of the Meunites – 2 Chronicles 20
  • God helped Uzziah in his wars against the Philistines – 2 Chronicles 26
  • Rescue of Judah under the leadership of the righteous King Hezekiah – 2 Kings 19

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

How to Kill Giants: Searching for the Deep Secrets Behind King David’s Success

creation swap 23540_Rooted_-_Grow_Deep._Live_Tall.A friend sent me a link to a sermon on “how to kill giants” and as I watched the sermon on David and Goliath, I thought about how many times I have heard that story preached. We all love David as a hero and want to follow in his footsteps.

There are many aspects to David’s life, but the ones I find mentioned the least often, are those which involve suffering, or spiritual discipline; yet, this is what we need to hear about the most. It’s the hard times and good habits that hold the real secrets to David’s spiritual and earthly success. Unless we, like David, are willing to take the harder paths through life, we will not be able to slay the giants in our lives. There are no shortcuts.

David appears to be a paradoxical figure. He had all the power and wealth of a king, yet was a gentle, kind-hearted, humble man. He didn’t throw his weight around, slaughter every enemy, or put his own welfare as his greatest priority. He cared about the Lord and the people he led. I describe David as an anti-king, as he doesn’t fit our ideas of what royalty is like. He’s both Rambo and St Francis of Assisi combined: the warring hero who wants to be a channel of God’s peace.

It has taken me months to understand how these potentially opposing sides of his character work. I have found there are several threads which bind these two disparate parts together into a healthy, concrete whole.
1. His obedience to the Torah, (God’s laws as handed down through Moses) which explains his warrior motivation;
2. His submission to God through prayer and seeking the Lord’s will, which makes him more like St Francis; (and is is of course, followed by obedience, or he would have been just another failed king.)

David’s passionate devotion to the Lord was his greatest asset. It led him to not simply stick to the law and hope that everything would work out. [Ref. 1 Kings 15:5 and Psalm 40:8] He maintained a God-first, disciplined, active relationship with the Lord. David never tried to achieve the success of the kingdom himself… no matter how great his reputation was. He knew Who had trained him to lead men and Who had built his Kingdom and military success. David had the sense to stick close to his God, no matter how powerful he’d become, also ensuring that Yahweh was given the full glory due, for all of his victories and blessings.*

The only recorded instances of David not seeking God, are when he fled into Philistine territory when pursued by Saul; when he sinned with Bathsheba and should have sought mercy very quickly; and when he called for a census. Those bad decisions were all fuelled by fear. Every other time, he went to the Lord, or to a reliable prophet for advice first. Considering that David’s time as King spanned forty years, that is an impressive success record.

“In the course of time, David inquired of the Lord. “Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?” he asked.
The Lord said, “Go up.”
David asked, “Where shall I go?”
“To Hebron,” the Lord answered.
So David went up there with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David also took the men who were with him, each with his family, and they settled in Hebron and its towns. Then the men of Judah came to Hebron, and there they anointed David king over the tribe of Judah.” 2 Samuel 2:1-4

A number of Bible scholars have noted that absolute power is a dangerous thing. When a king doesn’t have to answer to anyone, they frequently become dangerous; but David chose to be readily answerable to the Lord. That saved him for sliding down the same path ego-driven, godless of Solomon and sadly, most of his successors.

“How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
and innocent of great sin.
May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:12-14

This is one of the key secrets to David’s success and a lesson to us all in humility, service and submission. Often we’re guilty of making plans and then expecting God to bless them. If someone with the status of a king sees fit to seek God first, we should certainly be doing the same. David is an outstanding role model in this area.

creation swap davidDavid’s obedience and humility meant that God could not only trust him to rule, but he could also be entrusted to minister to us. Thus we have the legacy of the Psalms to comfort and instruct us, and the legacy of his life to learn from. Aside from Jesus, more passages in the Bible are about David than anyone else. In 2 Samuel 7:9b the Lord told David, “…I will make your name as famous as anyone who has ever lived on the earth!” Even in secular society, David is well known as an archetypal hero. Archaeology and three major religions recognise David as an inspiring and pivotal figure.

Please pause to consider this: if we adopt David’s habits of seeking the Lord’s will for our lives FIRST, what legacy can we leave behind? What can we be doing that positively changes our world and impacts future generations?

We sing about wanting to be history makers; submission and then obedience is how we achieve that. It is not an easy road. It requires sacrifice and selflessness; yet if we really want to walk closely with the Lord, knowing that we’ve done the very best that we can, then we need to be like David and put ourselves second. Our success will come when we get on our knees first and not take action until we know what God wants for us.

“I lift up my eyes to you,
to you who sit enthroned in heaven.
As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
till he shows us his mercy.” Psalm 123:1-2

* Please see The Anti-King: David and Humility for more information and visit the project web site to browse the section on the Psychology and Reality of Kingship.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

How We Can Use Goliath’s Sword

7076543_m“Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts. Perhaps the fear of a loss of power.” John Steinbeck

It is easier to rule by intimidation and violence, than by humility and faith. Yet, despite many threats to David’s life and kingship, he never turned into an aggression-driven tyrant. David’s attitude was this:
“I wait quietly before God,
for my victory comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will never be shaken.
So many enemies against one man—
all of them trying to kill me.” Psalm 62:1-3a

However, this lesson in trust was not learned early. It only became a life choice of David’s after Saul’s initial attempts to kill him. Like all of us, David resorted to fleshly methods of coping first, then developed a greater faith the hard way.

When Saul fully gave full vent to his jealousy and paranoia about David, David fled first to the prophet Samuel, seeking refuge and guidance. Word of David’s location reached Saul, and after miraculous deliverance, David had to run again. He sought out Jonathan for answers and when Jonathan confirmed Saul’s determination to see David dead, he again fled and did something that an older David would find unpalatable. [Full story refs: 1 Samuel 19-21]

Firstly, he lied to the high priest who looked after the Tabernacle. David obtained holy bread which he had no right to touch. Secondly, he headed straight for a weapon: he demanded the return of Goliath’s sword from the priest. “There is nothing like it!” David replied. “Give it to me!” [Ref: 1 Samuel 21:9b] That is a very emphatic request. There is nothing faith-reliant, or humble about it, and I suspect that the main reason that David went to the Tabernacle, is neither for bread or spiritual guidance, (he’d already met with Samuel), but to get that sword. (See an in-depth analysis in the footnotes.)

That doesn’t sound like David. What happened to:
“But when I am afraid,
I will put my trust in You.
I praise God for what He has promised.
I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
What can mere mortals do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4/11

It wasn’t built into him yet.

David should have been in trouble with the Lord for taking the bread and possibly, also for taking the sword, however, the grace of God intervenes in this part of his story. The Lord uses this awful incident to help David survive to become King. God allowed David both the bread and the sword without penalty, as he and his men had to eat, and David would have to defend himself from many threats in the wilderness, he’d face in the years to come. As the sword and bread was God’s, it was also His to give and use as He desired. [Ref: 1 Samuel 21]

I am basing this on Jesus’ own discussion of this issue in Mark 2:25-26 “He [Jesus] answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (The Law helps people, people aren’t to be enslaved by it.)

God provided, regardless of His Law.

So now we have a terrified David. He runs for safety to Gath, a *large Philistine city, close to the borders of Judah, where Saul and his men won’t follow; but he is recognised and has to retreat yet again. To run to an enemy you have repeatedly fought against is an incredibly desperate, fear-fuelled act. It says a great deal about David’s frame of mind.

To escape the wrath of Saul, David’s family also has had to abandon their property and livelihood, and join David in hiding. He gets his ageing parents to safety through the family’s **ties in Moab, and he is left in mortal danger, with only a group of fellow renegades, his brothers and… Goliath’s sword.

Put yourself in David’s shoes. Everything has blown up out of control and rectifying it is far beyond his control. David probably knew why Saul had turned on him and feels acutely persecuted. He has never tried to seize power from Saul and is blameless, homeless and grieving his separation from his wife, Michal, (who he must have been worried about, knowing Saul’s temper, and because she’d risked her life to save him.) A significant number of innocent people are dead or suffering, and it’s all because of him. All David has is his faith and that sword. Symbolically, what would this sword have meant to David?

This treasure had to be a symbol of hope and encouragement. It would represent:
1. God’s proven intention to deliver Isra’el from her enemies, and maybe David from his;
2. it was a sign of God’s favour and honour on David’s life;
3. it was a promise of Kingship to come, as it was a king’s grade weapon; and
4. it was a means of violent defence.

With David’s full history in mind, Goliath’s sword teaches me two lessons that I can apply to my own life.

4114180_s1. Remember what God has done in our lives.
“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” Deuteronomy 4:9

This is a traditional approach set down first by Moses, then repeated by the Psalmist, Asaph, as he reminds the people of his era to remember God’s deeds in Psalm 78. David does this also, in obedience to Moses, in Psalms such as Psalm 66. A publicly sung Psalm would enable the goodness of God to become a testimony and source of empowerment to everyone who heard it.

“Come and see what our God has done,
what awesome miracles He performs for people!
He made a dry path through the Red Sea,
and His people went across on foot.
There we rejoiced in Him.
For by His great power He rules forever.
He watches every movement of the nations;
let no rebel rise in defiance.” Psalm 66:5-7

Whatever the Lord has done in your life, keep it by your side, like a sword, as a reminder of God’s provision and love for you. Write it down, or keep a souvenir, so you remember that testimony. It will help you in the future.

2. When desperate or hurting, never let your actions be tinged with regret
David’s visit to the priests at Nob had catastrophic consequences. They were killed by Saul for helping, which devastated David. As long as he carried Goliath’s sword, as useful and encouraging as that symbol would have been, he would also be carrying a reminder of those deaths, his lies and his lack of faith. It is possible that this tragedy is part of what taught David to look for the Lord for deliverance, rather than first reaching for a weapon to defend himself with.

In all things, no matter how stressed we are, it’s far better to act in the best character we can muster, so we don’t look back with regret, or weep over the bridges we have burnt behind us. Don’t become aggressive when you’re backed into corners; whether that’s through words you will later regret, bitterness, or any action that is unrighteous.

It’s easy to grasp any tool to make yourself feel safer in a time of desperation, just slow down and try and ensure that you’re reaching for the right one.



Please see “By Heart or By Sword” for further explanation on David not using violence for deliverance.

* This is based on recent archaeological findings. Gath is thought to have been around eight times larger than David’s Jerusalem, and would have been a logical hiding place.

** David’s family ties were via his grandmother, Ruth, from the book of Ruth.
To understand this part of David’s story properly, you need to understand the circumstances surrounding the sword. For example, why wasn’t it with David in the first place? As part of the spoils of war, Goliath’s sword was rightfully David’s and Saul did not take it as his own. Goliath’s sword was a huge, heavy piece of iron, in days when apart from King Saul and his Crown Prince, Jonathan, no one throughout Isra’el had iron weapons at all. [Ref: 1 Samuel 13:19-22 ] Even though David had headed Saul’s army, maybe he wasn’t entitled to carry a weapon of such a high calibre? That privilege may only have belonged to the King, and David was a humble servant, who would not have kept a better weapon for himself, than the King had.

As the sword was located in a sacred place, behind the ephod in the Tabernacle where God was worshipped, I wonder if David had surrendered it to the Lord as an offering? It was his first victory and it appears that he knew where the sword was. The location of the sword would not have kept it safe from raiding Philistines, so if it was an offering, did David have the right to take it back? Especially as at the same time, David was also given the holy bread that had sat in the Tabernacle as an offering to the Lord, and was strictly only for the priests consumption, under the Laws God gave the people through Moses. The bread was to help feed the priests. Taking that bread, was like taking part of someone’s wages and should not have happened. This is complex and I don’t have all the answers. I have studied and debated this long and hard and this is the best I can figure out. I could be completely off track. What do you think?


The Spiritually Mature David’s Attitude to Deliverance:

“Be still in the presence of the LORD,
and wait patiently for Him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
or fret about their wicked schemes.
Stop being angry!
Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper—
it only leads to harm.
For the wicked will be destroyed,
but those who trust in the LORD will possess the land.” Psalm 37:7-9

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honour come from God alone.
He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.
O my people, trust in Him at all times.
Pour out your heart to Him,
for God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:5-8 (Cross reference Psalm 131:2)

“LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing.
You guard all that is mine.
The land You have given me is a pleasant land.
What a wonderful inheritance!” Psalm 16:5-8

Article source for these Scriptures: The Anti-King: David and Humility

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