logo Living Water Christian Fellowship logo
Home Recent Sermon Multimedia Sermons News & Events Our Vision Donate Now Through CanadaHelps.org!

"David - Dealing with Difficulty, Pt.2: The Deadly & Ungrateful"

Father's Day - June 21, 2015 1Sam.23:1-14


The fifth of the Ten Commandments says: Ex 20:12 "Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you." Some of us have earthly fathers it's easy to honour and respect; others, perhaps not so much. Whether we are blessed with such an earthly father or not, Christians know they have a Heavenly Father worthy of utmost respect, love, honour, even worship - because He created us, redeemed us, and is preparing a home where we can appreciate His glory and goodness forever; this is possible because He sent His Son Jesus to teach us and die for us so our sins can be forgiven. In the face of Christ we see reflected accurately our Heavenly Father's beauty and power.

Those of us who ARE fathers want to be the kind of father who is worthy of honour, a dad our kids will look back on with admiration and maybe just a touch of "wow!" factor. I am thankful for and proud of MY dad; he went to church all his life (still does) and brought us 3 boys along with him and his wife. He fought bravely in the 2nd World War to preserve our freedoms. He had the highest herd average in milk production in Perth County for several years. He provided well for his family despite having just a Grade 8 education - AND despite battling crippling arthritis from his forties on. He even shook hands with the Pope!

I could go on, but, I think you can tell I have a lot of respect for my dad. This past week I was uploading some scanned photos from his oldest photo album, partly in preparation for his 95th birthday celebration a month from now. One of the photos shows over a dozen teams of horses pulling a huge barn onto our property. The year was about 1923; my father was 3 years old. One of his earliest memories is looking out the window and watching as HIS dad supervised these teams pulling this massive barn from over a mile away in the dead of winter into place attached to one of the existing barns. Neighbours skipped school to come and watch! We want to be dads that our kids will remember with a degree of "Wow! How did he ever manage to accomplish THAT?!"

Today we continue our series looking at David, king of Israel, and how he dealt with difficulty. These problems both shaped David's character and revealed the quality of character he already had. God used these challenges to help sculpt David in godly fashion into what would eventually become Israel's greatest Old Testament king.


First, a bit of catch-up from where we were last week. Saul had become jealous of David because of his military victories and the ensuing popularity among the women-folk. Jealousy and anger turned to bitterness, rage, and violence as he tried to pin David with a spear three times. At first Saul's son Jonathan had been able to reason with his father and reassure and convince him that David was a loyal subject, no threat. But eventually Saul's attitude became so jaundiced that he cursed and attacked his own son for supporting David.

In 1Samuel 21, David flees to the priests and tabernacle at Nob, seeking provisions and guidance. Ahimelech the priest gives some bread and the sword of Goliath, the giant David earlier killed. David flees to Gath, one of the five major towns of the Philistines, where fears and accusations reduced him to scratching on doors and drooling from the mouth, pretending to be insane.

In chapter 22, David returns to the wilderness in Hebrew territory. Saul finds out from an informant that David had received help from the priests at Nob; as a result, he orders the death of all the priests there (some 85 of them), and the informant goes further and kills all their families and livestock as well. What a slaughter! (Though 1 priest, Abiathar, escapes.) David has definitely gone from a mere threat or annoyance in Saul's books to the kingdom's "Number 1 Most Wanted Outlaw". After what happened to the priests, do you think anyone else would dare offer help to David?

Nevertheless, despite all the forces arrayed against David, this period teaches us several characteristics of a godly man that us dads would do well to learn from. Let's list them: 1) a father has a mission in the world; 2) a father seeks and subjects himself to God's guidance; 3) a father looks out for his family; 4) a father leads despite hesitation or resistance from his family; 5) a father accomplishes great things with the Lord's help; 6) a father rises above his enemies. Let's take these in order.


We talked about the "wow" factor - we dads want to live lives of SIGNIFICANCE, to impact our world in a way worthy of being remembered and emulated. I saw on social media an article about a man who had spent $50,000 remodelling his basement in the "Elder Scrolls" style. [photos] (I had to look up what "Elder Scrolls" meant: it's a series of video games, including one my offspring have played called Skyrim.) Is that what we want to be remembered for - is that what it means to make an impact in the world: how we decorate our basement? And spending tens of thousands of dollars to do that? Does God not have a larger mission for your life than that?

1Sam 23:1 "When David was told, "Look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are looting the threshing floors..."" Now, think about it: how might have David responded? No.1 on the country's "most wanted" list...hiding out in the wilderness for his very life...Could he have been justified in saying, "Not MY problem that the Philistines are raiding that burg! Isn't that what we pay taxes for? Isn't that Saul's job - doesn't he have an army of tens of thousands of soldiers at his disposal?" Chapter 22 tells us there were only about 400 in David's renegade gang. But he senses his calling is to defend his countrymen. He takes seriously that it might be HIM God is calling to go protect this vulnerable town.

Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica, 2Thess 1:11 "With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith." Fathers, your mission is larger than decorating your basement! God has significant purpose waiting for you, both in raising your family in a way that pleases Him, and in making an impact in your community as salt and light for Jesus.


In just a minute I'm going to talk about a father's leadership in the family. But it's not a tyranny, not bossiness, not about throwing your weight around. The only person worth following is one who has already submitted themselves to higher authority - who knows "Jesus is Boss" / Jesus is Lord. To lead, we have to know where to go; and that means seeking guidance from God, your ultimate accountability.

Four times in this passage David inquires of the Lord. Note v6 "(Now Abiathar son of Ahimelech had brought the ephod down with him when he fled to David at Keilah.)" The priestly ephod had a pouch which carried the Urim and Thummim, sacred objects (sort of functioned like dice) which, used properly, gave answers to questions worshippers were asking. It's significant that when Saul obliterated the priests and families at Nob, he also lost the appointed means to find guidance from God on specific questions. He was left in the dark.

By contrast, David regularly sought God's guidance and accepted the directions given: v2 "he inquired of the LORD, saying, "Shall I go and attack these Philistines?" The LORD answered him, "Go, attack the Philistines and save Keilah."" V4 "Once again David inquired of the LORD, and the LORD answered him, "Go down to Keilah, for I am going to give the Philistines into your hand."" V9 "When David learned that Saul was plotting against him, he said to Abiathar the priest, "Bring the ephod."" V12 "Again David asked, "Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me and my men to Saul?" And the LORD said, "They will.""

As New Testament believers, we don't have to use Urim and Thummim: we can just pray! Paul wrote in 1Timothy 2:8, "I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing." Fathers, you need to be praying as you lead your family, finding out God's direction, seeking His wisdom, asking His protection for your wife and children from the threats and forces at play in today's world. Find out God's mind on a matter through Scripture and prayer. In the words of pioneer Daniel Boone, "Be sure you're right, then go ahead."


(repeat heading) This one should be obvious, shouldn't it? But too many fathers today haven't left adolescence. They'd rather play than be responsible - be it Xbox or Sports on the tube or their motorbike or drinks with the guys. Studies have shown dads spend 37 seconds a day on average interacting with their kids - while those same kids become focussed hours and hours each day on the "screen". So who's REALLY raising your kids? To look out for your family involves far more than just bringing home the bacon: it involves dialogue, playing with them, helping with homework, giving Mom a break, reading a bedtime story, leading family devotions after supper (age-appropriate) and praying with them.

Note the specific wording of David's question in v12: "Again David asked, "Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me and my men to Saul?" And the LORD said, "They will."" Who's David worried about - just himself, saving his own hide? No: "me and my men". What men? 22:1-2 "...When his brothers and his father's household heard about it, they went down to him there.All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader.About four hundred men were with him." Then by 23:13 the numbers have swollen to "about 600". That's quite a crew to look after! This includes his relatives, who have gone from exalted "tax-free status" (reward for defeating Goliath - 1Sam 17:25) to "accomplices of the country's most-wanted criminal". But David in a fatherly way looks after them, too: 1Sam 22:3 "From there David went to Mizpah in Moab and said to the king of Moab, "Would you let my father and mother come and stay with you until I learn what God will do for me?""

Fathers, it's one of the most strongly-worded admonitions in the New Testament that we look after our families! 1Timothy 5:8 "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."


Sometimes David had to make tough calls that weren't popular with those he led. In v2 he is told by the Lord to go attack the Philistines and save the town of Keilah. What response does this draw from his band? V3 "But David's men said to him, "Here in Judah we are afraid.How much more, then, if we go to Keilah against the Philistine forces!"" They had good reason to be afraid; the official government view labelled them as terrorists, deserving extermination. But David had faith in God; he trusted that if God had a job for them to do, His omnipotent power would help them succeed. So he double-checked his instructions, inquiring again in v4, then led them to inflict heavy losses on the Philistines and save the city (v5).

Fathers, you need to be prepared to lead, even when it's in a direction that's not what your family would necessarily "like" to do! Be sure to seek input from your wife, she can help you see things from different angles. God's given her to you to provide extra wisdom. Know Christ's teaching and discern next steps prayerfully. The Bible teaches you as "head" are the one God will hold primarily accountable (1Cor 11:3; Eph 5:23). You (fathers - not mothers) are the ones Eph 6:4 specifically says are to "bring [your children] up in the training and instruction of the Lord". That's not what Hollywood broadcasts, or what their peers may be telling them. You will encounter resistance. You may have doors slammed in your face and get shouted at...but in the end, it will be worth it.


What could David's little gang of discontents, debtors, and distressed DO against Philistine Viking-like marauders? Turns out they could WIN! V5 - inflicting "heavy losses" on the enemy, saving the oppressed. God had anointed David, a born warrior, and was training a core group of savvy troops that would one day become the nucleus of the triumphant Israelite army. They just didn't know that yet. Meanwhile, as God puts it in v4: "Go down to Keilah, for I am going to give the Philistines into your hand." God was behind this operation. God can do great things through unexpected agents when we co-operate with His plan.

My bride gave me this verse inscribed on the inside of my wedding ring: Deuteronomy 31:8 "The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Great promise for fathering a family.


The people of Keilah were rescued by David from the Philistines who were looting their crops. Do you think they would have been appreciative? Do you suppose they would have repaid him kindly by any means possible?

King Saul hears David has gone to Keilah and supposes, v7, "God has handed him over to me, for David has imprisoned himself by entering a town with gates and bars." Seems the town just had one main gate, and if that were blocked, David would have no way out. V8 "And Saul called up all his forces for battle, to go down to Keilah to besiege David and his men." Now we're in a pickle! David (as usual) inquires of the Lord, whether Saul will come (yes) and v12: ""Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me and my men to Saul?" And the LORD said, "They will."" How about that! There's gratitude for ya! David had saved these people's hides and how do they reward him? By being ready to turn him in! (See the story of Sheba in 2Samuel 20 for a similar situation in which the townspeople obligingly throw the refugee's head over the wall to his foes, so they don't have to suffer through a siege too.)

How does David respond to these ingrates who are so unappreciative of their rescue that they're ready to turn on their deliverer? How would YOU respond to people who are ungrateful to you after you've helped them? Does he retaliate, take back the goods he just rescued for them? Does he return evil-for-evil? No, he RISES ABOVE the lowness of those who are ungrateful. 1Sam 23:13 "So David and his men, about six hundred in number, left Keilah and kept moving from place to place." Back to the life of a homeless person, when he'd saved a whole town!

Fathers, there will be times when you are tempted to return evil-for-evil. But those who follow the Crucified One learn to show grace rather than retaliate. Paul writes in Romans 12:17,19,21, "Do not repay anyone evil for evil...Do not take revenge...Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Paul's conduct in the churches was a model of parenting patience. 1Thessalonians 2:10-12 "You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory."

God grant us ALL - not just fathers! - grace in Christ to rise above wrongs done us, so as Jesus said in Matthew 5:45, "that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." Let's pray.