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God’s Hidden Deliverances

By Matthew Mason. This is part of a series of posts on 1 Samuel, supplementing messages in our preaching series this fall. In this post we consider 1 Samuel 27-30.

In chapters 24 and 26, when Saul was given into David’s hands, David refused to take revenge. But even after this, Saul still sought his life, and so in desperation David flees once more to the Philistines (27:1).

Once there, he finds favor with Achish, King of Gath. After so long hiding in caves David can finally settle, in the Philistine town of Ziklag. It looks like he has finally transferred allegiance. The former scourge of the Philistines has made his home with Israel’s enemies.

But in truth, David practices military deception, persuading Achish that he’s attacking Israel when in reality he’s striking down their foes. He still remains loyal, even in exile.

In contrast, Saul continues in his disobedience, defying God’s word by consulting a medium (1 Sam 28; cf. Leviticus 19:31). Through the witch of Endor, Saul brings up Samuel from the grave, and hears the prophet’s rebuke once more—God will give Israel into the Philistines’ hands and Saul and his sons will die (28:10).

And who will be opposing Saul in battle? The very man who previously refused to take his life. King Achish tells David that he must join the Philistine armies (28:1-2). Will David really find himself attacking Israel? Will he be forced to kill Saul after all? David appears to be resigned that this will be his fate.

But in God’s kindness, the Philistine aristocracy oppose King Achish’s plan; they don’t trust “these Hebrews,” and so David is excused from military service (chap 29).  Instead he returns home where he finds, to his great distress, that the city has been attacked and his wife and children taken captive (30:1-5).

Released from military service, David is free to rescue his family. (30:7-31). And whereas Saul had consulted a medium and been reminded of his faithlessness in not killing the Amalekites (28:16-18), David consults the Lord who gives the Amalekites into David’s hands (30:7-31). God is angry with Saul, and so Saul’s family will die; God is blessing David, and so his family will live.

At first glance these chapters seem like a random series of events that enable David to save his family and that save him from fighting against God’s people and killing God’s anointed. But even though he’s hardly mentioned, we’re supposed to see God working behind the scenes. It’s God who arranges the circumstances of David’s life, protecting him from sin, and enabling him to be a blessing to his family.

In the same way, subtly, behind the scenes God is shaping our circumstances too. We may not even be conscious of his hand upon the events of our lives, but he promises to work all things for our good (Rom 8:28). How would our perspective on life change if we believed this? Perhaps the very situations which seem to us most frustrating are actually moments when our faithful God is intimately at work, keeping us from sins and dangers of which we’re unaware of, and putting us in places where we can be a blessing to others.


A Prayer for Today

O God, whose never-failing providence orders all things both in heaven and earth: We humbly ask you to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give us those things which are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.