Have you ever met an opportunity that you longed for? A privilege that you have been praying about and which seems to be coming real-time just when you need it? A few of us get such privileges.
A young shepherd experienced this in antiquity. With little experience in human terms, but great faith in God, David was in a great phase of his life, moving from the wilderness to the palace. He had received the anointing, which suggested that God wanted him to take the assignment of shepherding his people, the Israelites. God Himself had trained him for this post on the hills of Bethlehem where he took care of his father’s flock. Having learned to trust God, he was careful to take only the steps that God endorsed.
But the journey from anointment to place had a little tarrying time. King Saul, though rejected by God, was still on duty and seemingly strong and energetic. David’s first Assignment in the path to the palace was to learn patience. He needed this to be able to do the great work ahead of Him. In the line of duty, he would meet all kinds of people. He would meet general Joab, a tough soldier who doesn’t show mercy to renegades. He would meet Shimei, a man who does not respect dignitaries. He would meet family pressures that demanded patience. It took a little while for him to get there, and he was not allowed to interpose in any way to make the process faster. His duty was to ensure he is well placed within God’s great plan, and then let God bear the Ark.
I tend to think that the greatest temptations in the life of David was not the Bathsheba saga, but when king Saul seemed to be placed in his hands twice. An average man who lives their life from “the end justifies the means” world view, would not be reluctant to remove the obstacles in their path to the palace. In fact, most leaders even destroy those who look reasonable enough to take office after them. Anyone whose aptitude and attitude seem a tall order to outmanoeuvre, they kill from the source. David must act from the point of absolute trust. Any opportunity that is not consistent with divine methodology, must be avoided like a plague. What did Son of Jesse do?
Now it happened, when Saul had returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, “Take note! David is in the Wilderness of En Gedi.” Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel, and went to seek David and his men on the Rocks of the Wild Goats. So he came to the sheepfolds by the road, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to attend to his needs. (David and his men were staying in the recesses of the cave.) Then the men of David said to him, “This is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.’ ” And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe. And he said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.” So David restrained his servants with these words, and did not allow them to rise against Saul. And Saul got up from the cave and went on his way. [NKJV 1 Samuel 24:1-7]
If David went out of his way to kill Saul, he would have had to face the pains of such a bad decision in the insurrection of the tribe of Benjamin whence King Saul hailed. On the path to the palace, we have a great lesson to learn; the lesson of solving the “I” problem. An average human being always thinks about self first. David had the privilege of putting himself ahead of divine directives and the common good of the people, but he chose the road less traveled—giving self no chance to occupy the steering wheel. We have the option of making such choices in our lives. Everyone is self-centered, and they don’t go far. They go fast and raise their deformed heads with boldness, but their downfall comes too soon, and they come down tumbling like the gigantic Goliath. While everyone is caught up in the need to place self ahead of anything else, it will always be safer to consider nobler aspirations than an average human does.
David got another privilege of the same kind when King Saul was apparently out to destroy him. He found the king sleeping himself stupid and exposed even to the arrow of a mad man. It was tempting to assume that God was compensating for the missed opportunity in the sheepcotes. However, he was not mistaken as to what the Lord was saying this time around. He knew that was consistent in His dealings, and we cannot interpret His will based on providence. When David spared King Saul’s life for the second time at the Wilderness of Ziph [1 Samuel 26], he finished the test that the Lord had set to prepare him for the palace. He could be trusted with duty. God allowed Saul to engineer his own downfall and finally die in the hands of the Philistine, though he committed suicide when cornered beyond escape.
On the path to the palace, there is a lesson of patience to be learned. Above patience, we must learn to put self within its legal sphere. We must learn to understand the voice of God. Be careful not to use circumstances at hand to interpret the will of God, instead, let the revealed will of God help you to understand the situations you pass through. It is safer to wait upon the Lord than to force your way into the office through the arm of flesh.