We noted in our last devotional that David had three adversaries he had to defeat, the most dangerous of which was King Saul. We also pointed out that David was anointed to be king of Israel, but there seemed no progress for him taking the throne. Meanwhile, Saul was aggressively trying to kill him.
Like us, David had a royal position waiting for him. If you are a genuine believer in Jesus Christ, you have been appointed as a co-ruler with him: “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” (Rev. 3:21 ESV). So the Lord trained David through very arduous and challenging circumstances. He might use a similar regimen with you. Remember, Jesus, who is the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Rev. 17:14), was trained in the natural realm: “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” (Heb. 5:8). Suffering and hardships are great training techniques and very effective. You will be trained to be a king. The training is demanding and it weans out extraneous and superfluous traits. Don’t be shocked if the Lord puts you into the deep end of the pool.
But the Lord does not leave you defenseless. He gives you allies, including Himself, who are willing to help you. This happened to David.
After David killed Goliath, things went well. Attention, flattery, special promotions, were all given to David by Saul…until Saul got his nose out of joint. But the provision of the Lord provided David a friend closer than a brother: Saul’s own son, Jonathan. What an irony. “The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul,” (1 Sam. 18:1).
Many moderns have tried to argue that this was a homosexual attraction, but this is simply not the case. They became great companions and were willing to die for one another. Many military comrades have knit close relationships with other men that are not erotic, there is no reason to suspect so. Jesus asked Peter three times if Peter loved him, and Peter attested to the fact that he did not have erotic love (eros), but rather a brotherly love (phileo) for the Lord (John 21:15-17). Jesus loved the disciple John with a divine love (agape) in John 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20. David and Jonathan were close friends not erotic lovers.
Then Saul promised David his daughter Merab, in marriage. This was a great honor to David. He might have thought this was his avenue to the throne. But Saul switched his daughter giving her to another suitor leaving David humiliated: “But at the time when Merab, Saul’s daughter, should have been given to David, she was given to Adriel the Meholathite for a wife.” (1 Sam. 18:19). This was malicious harassment.
Saul then gave David another one of his daughters: “Now Saul’s daughter Michal loved David. And they told Saul, and the thing pleased him.” (18:20). (Saul did not know his own daughter’s heart!).
Why would Saul do this? Because he loved his daughter? No, because he hated David: “Saul thought, ‘Let me give her to him, that she may be a snare for him and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.'” (18:21). What a demented scoundrel to use his daughter as a weapon against David! Saul was cunning and malicious.
After this, Saul again sought to kill David. He tried to spear David (19:10); then he tried to ambush David in his home (19:11-17). David’s wife, saved his life, flummoxing Saul. Two children from Saul’s own family, interceded on David’s behalf – ironic.
This was rugged training the Lord was giving David, so that he could learn godly leadership. David was witnessing demented kingship.God showed David this so that he’d forsake perversity and incorporate godly attributes. Might God use the same method for you?
David got the hint and fled. Saul was intractable. Would David go home? No. He had to leave everything. He was now persona-non-grata. The word was out that he was an enemy and a fugitive. Again, the Lord used very austere means to train David in royal character.
Jesus, David’s descendant, also became persona-non-grata. He was targeted for destruction, though he did nothing wrong. In John 11, Jesus did something stupendous – he raised Lazarus from the dead. “Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him.” (Jn. 11:45). That’s great! Just as David had a great following, so did Jesus. In fact, a few days after Jesus raised Lazarus it was Palm Sunday. The city went out it’s mind to welcome Jesus, throwing palm branches down for his entry into Jerusalem. They wanted Jesus to be their ruler.
But storm clouds were brewing. The clergy class of Jews, the priesthood, was plotting Jesus’ demise: “from that day on they made plans to put him to death.” (Jn. 11:53). Jesus and David were targeted for death, though they brought liberation. David political, Jesus spiritual. Fear and pride took precedence over godly leadership.
David was almost out of options. He had one safe place to go. There was one more person who could help him in his time of need. Who would the Lord send to David? We’ll see in our next devotion.
Remember, the Lord trains us to be royalty. He makes his followers, to be honorable, exceptionally wise, and thoughtful. He molds us into people who willingly act to serve others, for their good, and for the glory of the Lord. This training process eliminates those who are pretenders. Don’t be surprised when others fall by the wayside.
The Lord sends us to spiritual Boot Camp, to learn how to protect the vulnerable and needy, by letting us experience weakness and vulnerability. David was ferocious and fearless, he had to be trained in compassion, by needing helpful hands from others.
If you are called to reign with Christ, boldness and kindness will be hallmarks of your character.