Life on the Run! (1 Samuel 20; Psalm 11)

Scripture reading – 1 Samuel 20; Psalm 11

Today’s Scripture reading introduces a new phase in our two-year chronological study of the Scriptures. Several of the psalms that were authored by David were penned during his years in exile. Those psalms will be infused in our study. While 1 Samuel gives us the narrative, and background of events in David’s life, the psalms give us insight into the internal struggles, and meditations of this man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). While the Spirit of God occupied King Saul, and his messengers in Ramah (19:20-24), David circled back to request Jonathan’s intervention in his crisis with the king (20:1). As we will see, the king’s heart was troubled with an evil spirit, and he could find no peace.

1 Samuel 20 – David’s Fear

David fled Ramah, and put as much distance between himself, and his enemy as he could (19:19-24). The bond between David and Jonathan, Saul’s son, was never broken in spite of the king’s efforts to kill him (20:1-23). Jonathan understood the LORD’S anointing was upon David, and in a great act of humility, he vowed to love David to the end of his life (20:35-42). Departing from Jonathan, David began an exile that would last ten years. Separated from his friend, and his father’s household, David retreated into the wilderness, and a life on the run.

Faithful and Fearless (Psalm 11:1-7)

I am not certain of the historical context of Psalm 11; however, it seems to be an appropriate parallel text for our devotional in 1 Samuel 20. David was certainly facing the threat of an enemy, and weighing the counsel of those who urged him to flee.

There are times when retreat, and flight from the threat of an enemy is a wise and necessary choice. David fled from the presence of Saul when the king was moved to kill him. He also fled Jerusalem after his son Absalom stole the affections of the people, and led an insurrection against him. David faced foes within and without, and he confronted threats significant enough to move him to flee (11:1b-2). (The amplifications of word meanings in brackets are those of the author.)

Psalm 11:1-3 – “In the LORD put I my trust [confide; flee for protection; make refuge]: how say [speak; command] ye to my soul [life; person; mind], Flee [disappear; remove] as a bird to your mountain?
2  For, lo, the wicked 
[ungodly; immoral; guilty] bend their bow, they make ready [prepare; set up; fix]their arrow upon the string, that they may privily [secretly, in the darkness] shoot at the upright [right; just; righteous] in heart [mind].
3  If the foundations
[purpose; support; moral pillars] be destroyed [thrown down; pull down; broken in pieces], what can the righteous [just] do?”

Yet, David asserted his faith was in the LORD, and he asked his terrified counselors, would you have me flee like a frightened bird? (11:1) David acknowledged the plot of the wicked to destroy the just and upright (11:2), but as the LORD’S anointed, he was the moral pillar, the foundation of the saints of God (11:3a).

Psalm 11:4-7 is David’s answer to the questions, and counsel of his faithless advisors.

Psalm 11:4 – “The LORD is in his holy [sacred; hallowed] temple, the LORD’S throne [seat] is in heaven: his eyes behold [perceive; look; gaze], his eyelids try [examine; prove], the children of men.”

David asserted the LORD was Sovereign of His creation, and though His throne is in heaven, He observes the affairs of men with a steady eye, and an unwavering gaze (11:4).

Psalm 11:5 – “The LORD trieth [proves; examines] the righteous [just; law abiding]: but the wicked [ungodly; immoral; guilty] and him that loveth violence [cruelty; injustice] his soul [the LORD] hateth [as a foe].”

Psalm 11:5 states David’s confidence that the LORD knows the hearts of the righteous. He is the foe of men who afflict humanity with their evil deeds, and hates the violence, and terror of the wicked. He hates lawlessness.

Psalm 11:6 – “Upon the wicked he [the LORD] shall rain [rain down] snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible [consuming; terrible; raging] tempest [wind; spirit]: this shall be the portion of their [the wicked] cup [they will drink of their lawless way].”

Not unlike the weapons of modern warfare, David describes the terror of God’s judgment raining down upon the wicked who oppose Him, and who despise the righteous.

Psalm 11:7 – “For the righteous [just; lawful] LORD loveth righteousness [justice; moral virtue; obedience to His Commandments]; his countenance [face; presence] doth behold [perceive; contemplate; see] the upright [righteous; straight; just].”

Our devotion ends with an assurance that the LORD’S love for the righteous never wanes, and His eyes ever behold those whom He numbers among the righteous on the earth. Though our world is dominated by those who have rejected the LORD (Psalm 14:1, 53:1), and are adversaries of righteousness; yet is Sovereign over creation, and a refuge to all who trust Him.

Isaiah 40:31 – “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith