The Philistines have heard that David is king of Israel. This is a slap in their face as he once claimed to be on their side. He must answer for this!
David was king of Judah for seven and a half years before being made king of Israel. Apparently the Philistines didn’t have a problem with this. They left him alone. But when he took the throne of Israel he posed a very different picture to them.
When David was on the run from king Saul he came to the Philistines twice for protection. The first time he came alone and tried to hide out. He was found out and barely escaped with his life. Some of the Philistines saw his arrival as an opportune way to pay him back for his defeat of Goliath as well as prevent any further victories. They had heard what the people chanted; “Saul has killed his thousands and David has killed his ten thousands.” And he had while still in Saul’s army. David escaped their plans by pretending to be crazy.
The second time David came to the Philistines while running from Saul he brought his forces with him. He promised the king of Gath that he would serve him. It turned out that he kind of served him but not really. David made it look like he was attacking Israel but he was fighting Israel’s enemies instead and trading for spoils that would fool the king. The king of Gath was so convinced of David’s loyalty that he wanted him in the final battle against Saul. The other kings refused to allow this and David was sent home.
With Saul’s death David was free to return home. The Philistines didn’t put up a fuss about this because David was accepted by only one tribe and he was in constant battle with Israel. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
But wait! NOW David is king of Israel. David is the enemy. The Philistines hold no illusions of him joining with them. If he had wanted to do that he could have done so while king of Judah, but he didn’t. And David’s fame in battle made his place at the head of Israel even more troubling. This CANNOT stand! He has to be removed before he becomes even more of a danger to the Philistines.
The fact that David doesn’t rush headlong into battle is amazing! He knows the Philistines. He knows how they fight and probably a lot of their strategies. But he doesn’t rely on that knowledge to bring him victory in battle. Instead he turns to the Lord.
David seeks God’s direction. David went to where the Philistines were but did not engage them until he first sought out the One who had sustained him all the times before. We are not told that David consulted God before all of his earlier battles but as head of Israel he needed to do this right.
God said Israel was HIS people. David left the decision of ‘if’, ‘when’ and ‘how’ in His hands. And God answered him BOTH times he asked.
I’m wondering if God chose to have David take ‘mop up’ position the second time because of what he said after the first battle. “God has broken through my enemies by my hand, like a bursting flood” (verse 11b). David gave God the credit but he also patted himself on the back for being used by God. In the second encounter God told David He would do the work. “You shall not go up after them; go around and come against them opposite the balsam trees. And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then go out to battle, for God has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines” (verses 14b-15). I wonder what God used to make that sound and how He struck them. Did He send angels to strike them down? Did he cause confusion among them and have them fall on one another? Did He use animals to attack them? Whatever it was, He planned it and executed it. And David followed God’s orders.
I want to shout Praise God in another spot. After the first battle, when the spoils were being gathered, David did something that makes my heart sing! The Philistines fled in a hurry and they left behind their gods. They were worthless as gods but their images may have held some monetary value. To David though they were simply fire fodder.
David didn’t order the idols burned because he saw them as worthless. He burned them because they were dangerous. If his men brought these items home as spoils of war, they could easily turn their hearts away from the Lord. David was already fighting to get Israel back in line with God. He didn’t need these competing items shifting the people’s focus.
I had an experience once that I was just reminded of that could compare to how David felt that day. When the movie Noah first came out I was excited and wanted to see it. I don’t go to the theatres very often because of my husband’s health so I bought the DVD when it was available. With excitement we sat down to watch it together, only to see Hollywood desecrate the story. In their version Noah built the ark so the animals would survive and mankind would disappear from the face of the earth. If Noah had his way, IN THE MOVIE, his family would be the last people and would die right after landing and releasing the animals. He even made plans to kill his son’s wife who was pregnant while on the ark.
I don’t know if we even made it to the end of the movie before I ripped it from my DVD player. I told my husband it was going in the trash. He suggested that I give it to one of the kids. I stated flatly that I didn’t want to pass this movie onto anyone because then it would appear I was endorsing their message. He realized I was right. I went so far as to break the disk in pieces so no one could retrieve it and use it.
I know. I didn’t prevent the spread of this evil movie but I did what I could. I also went on line and gave a scathing review and warned anyone I knew who was interested in the movie. I wanted to do all I could to keep that movie from polluting people’s minds and hearts.
David protected the people he had authority over. He stood for what he could and left the rest in God’s hands. We need to do that in our own lives. Protect those you love and have authority over from false messages or spiritually dangerous situations. And place them in God’s hands. We are not able to make the final decision to follow Jesus for anyone else but we can make sure they have plenty of evidence as to the benefits and dangers of the decision they make.
Father God, my children are already grown. So much of my influence over them is gone. I know I did what I could to show them Your love as they grew up. But their hearts are not where they belong today. I place them once again in YOUR hands. I have ‘burned the idols’ and leave the direction of their hearts in Your care. You can protect them MUCH better than I ever could.