1 SAMUEL 27
1 And David [ Dovid] said in his heart [lev], I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul [yom echad by the yad Sha'ul]: there is nothing better [tov] for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines [Eretz Pelishtim]; and Saul [Sha'ul] shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel [kol gevul Yisroel]: so shall I escape out of his hand [yad].
In the light of what came after-deliverance out of all trouble and promotion to the highest honour and wealth-we probably fail to estimate correctly the darkness and bitterness of the preceding years to David in the absence of any certainty on his part as to how events would come out. Some of the most sorrowful of the Psalms were doubtless written at this time, and owe their character doubtless, in the first instance, to the circumstances of the moment. For example:
"Be merciful unto me, O God, for man would swallow me up: he fighting daily oppresseth me. Mine enemies would daily swallow me up, for they be many that fight against me, O thou Most High" (Psalm 56: 1-2).
"My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me"
(Psalm 55: 4).
"Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God; defend me from them that rise up against me. Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloody men. For, lo, they lie in wait for my soul: the mighty are gathered against me; not for my transgression, nor for my sin. They run and prepare themselves without my fault: awake to help me, and behold" (Psalm 59: 1-4).
"I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God. They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head" (Psalm 69: 3-4).
Though these words are intended by the Spirit in David as a foreshadowing of the sufferings of David's greater son, they are unquestionably the expression of David's own strong feelings in the first place, and reflect to us the bitterness of the time he spent in the wilderness of Ziph and other desert regions in Judah, while "driven out from abiding in the inheritance of the Lord" (1 Samuel 26: 19).
The question for consideration is, Why was "a man after God's own heart" subjected to this rough experience? Why was the possession of the crown, so solemnly guaranteed by the hand of Samuel, the Lord's prophet, preceded by a season of such cruel banishment from the dwellings of men, and of the bitterest humiliation it was in the power of Saul to inflict? The answer is to be found in David's own words:
"It is good for me that I have been afflicted."
Experience is necessary to ripen goodness of character: and to be a ripening experience, it must be an evil experience. Prosperity enfeebles: adversity braces up and purifies. This is a lesson a man almost learns for himself, but it wants the addition of divine instruction to see it rightly and clearly. It is only up to a certain point that adversity acts beneficially. When is that point reached, and how is adversity then to be arrested? Natural discernment can throw no light here. That God knows and that God regulates the operation, we could never know as natural men. We require to be told it. We have been told it. The thing told has been written, and we may read it in the Scriptures in many and divers forms.
The thing revealed to us is this, that-
"Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth" (Hebrews 12:6);
And that in such cases-
He "will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able to bear, but will with the temptation also provide a way of escape that we may be able to bear it"
(1 Corinthians 10: 13).
Ways of Providence Ch 16