Habits – Seek God

This morning, we’re continuing our new message series entitled, “Habits.” 

Through this message series, we’re going to learn about how to do small things consistently, which ultimately leads to a life of integrity.

Small habits lead to big change!

Proverbs 11:3

The integrity of the upright guides them,

    but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

Godly integrity does not make life fair as we often understand it.  It does, however, guide us onto God’s path for our lives. 

Consistently doing right in the little things will lead us to naturally do what is right when faced with big things.  Living a thorough life of integrity leads to God’s blessings and the abundance and fullness of life.

This morning, we’re going to begin learning from a season in David’s life that I’m sure we can all well relate to.  David shared a level of details about his life that simply isn’t found about most individuals found in the scriptures. 

We learn not only of the historical events of his life; his challenges and his achievements, but also of his raw emotions throughout them.  These are primarily found in the Psalms.  His frustrations, joys, disappointments, and successes are recorded for us to learn from centuries after his passing.

Although the Bible is sure to record some of David’s mistakes and the subsequent consequences of them, overall, he lived a life that reveals a great deal of integrity.

We’re beginning this morning in the midst of his life’s account.  David was long ago anointed by the prophet Samuel, who has since passed on, to be the second king of the nation of Israel. 

The current king, Saul, is quite jealous of David and the great success that he is having in his service in the army of Israel.  Saul was afraid of David because the Lord had left him, but was strongly with David.  All of Israel and Judah loved David. 

Integrity leads to favor with both God and man as revealed in the life of David.  He loved God and God’s people and lived wholeheartedly for them.

We begin in 1 Samuel 20 shortly after this blessed season to find David now running for his life from the same king that he faithfully served.  Saul is determined to kill David and begins chasing him all over in order to do so.  David asked Jonathan, Saul’s son and David’s best friend:

1 Samuel 20:1

…“What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to kill me?”

Perhaps you’ve found yourself in such a position.  Although you’ve done nothing wrong, people are still opposed to you. 

Perhaps you’ve find yourself asking that same question that David asked over and over again, “What have I done?” 

You may have done something to offend them, but you also may not have.  In this scenario, David really had done nothing wrong.  Saul just couldn’t handle seeing God’s favor depart from his life and grow so powerfully in David’s life.

Perhaps others aren’t throwing javelins at your or chasing you throughout the country with an army, but it feels that way. 

Honestly, I often think that this style of obvious assault might be easier to tolerate than how people usually come against us in our culture.  At least there is no question in their motives and their intent that way.  Hey, bring on the torches and pitchforks again!  Who needs secretive and indirect social media influences?

Unfortunately, a life lived in integrity is one that sometimes catches attention in a bad way. 

When the light of Christ in us gets too close to someone who enjoys living in the darkness and shadows, it can result either in their salvation or our crucifixion. (and in that, I mean the crucifixion of our flesh toward their reaction!)

Proverbs 29:10

The bloodthirsty hate a person of integrity and seek to kill the upright.

People may not be coming at you to physically kill you, but they may equally desire to destroy you.  Your life may not end, but it may seem easier if only to bear that. 

You may not physically die, but your relationship may be slowly and painfully dwindling away.  Your career may be slipping away from you.  You may be watching your dreams and goals fade further and further away all due to the opposition of others.

They may not proclaim a bounty on your head, but they secretly gossip about you.  They may not be waiting in the forest to ambush you, but they lay traps and snares to trip you up.  They may not bear a sword, but their words are just as sharp and wound just as deeply.  Your funeral may not be in the planning stages, but you are dying inside.

Godly integrity does not make life fair.  It does, however, guide us onto God’s path for our lives.

How did David respond to such fierce opposition?  How can we maintain our integrity when it is being wrongfully attacked?

Well, first of all, he ran away to protect himself.  Now you may not be able to avoid those who rise up against you altogether, but you can use wisdom to separate yourself from compromising situations. 

You can distance yourself from their attacks in whatever form they may come in.  You can walk away from situations which could be used against you and choose instead to walk into a higher degree of integrity.

David continued to run away as Saul pursued him.  He eventually found himself taking refuge among those who were once his enemies, the Philistines.  Only there did Saul cease his pursuit.  And, he only stopped his pursuit because he valued his own life more than David’s and knew that he wouldn’t last long among the Philistines. 

David, not long ago, was dearly loved and admired by an entire nation. He was celebrated and songs were sung about his awesome success and his name spread throughout the nations.  Now, the only ones with David were those whom the Bible described in this way:

1 Samuel 22:2

All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.

It’s important for us to have friends to help protect us while we are being opposed.  David didn’t have many good people to choose from, but the relationships forged between David and these rough men became an unstoppable force no matter who rose up against them. 

These friends were there for David when he needed them most and they helped serve to protect and strengthen and encourage David.

While living in Gath, he and these men earned favor with the King and were given the Philistine territory of Ziklag.  David was given a position as his personal bodyguard. 

However, David had a lapse in his integrity as he was conflicted between his loyalty to Israel and the protection offered by the king of Gath.  David and his men would raid the territories of Philistine and bring the spoils to King Achish claiming that they were from the nation of Israel for a year and a half.

As is consistent with the character of God, He didn’t allow this lapse of integrity hidden for long.  God exposed it by rejecting David and his men while they gathered to join the Philistine army. 

Rejection never feels good and especially when you are blindsided by it.  Rejection especially hurts when it is done publicly and also takes down your friends.  Rejection is incredibly difficult to swallow when there is no good reason for it.

David had been promised this position by the king, himself.  However, when the time came for this promotion, the jealousy and fear of others stopped him from receiving it.  It wasn’t fair, it wasn’t easy, and again David was left asking that painful question, “What have I done wrong?” 

Godly integrity does not make life fair.  It does, however, guide us onto God’s path for our lives.

Listen to the conversation that went down.

1 Samuel 29:6-9

6 So Achish called David and said to him, “As surely as the Lord lives, you have been reliable, and I would be pleased to have you serve with me in the army. From the day you came to me until today, I have found no fault in you, but the rulers don’t approve of you. 7 Now turn back and go in peace; do nothing to displease the Philistine rulers.”

8 “But what have I done?” asked David.

Now David, his men, and all of us know that this question could not be answered in the way that it could be with Saul.  This time, David was doing wrong and he was not innocent.  However, King Achish didn’t know it.  God did!

“What have you found against your servant from the day I came to you until now? Why can’t I go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?”

Integrity is a consistency and thoroughness of life.  Lacking integrity is duplicity and division.  David could not honor both God and Achish as lord and neither could David honor both Saul and Achish as king.  David could not both raid Philistine and join their army.  David could not both love God’s people and join an army against them.

9 Achish answered, “I know that you have been as pleasing in my eyes as an angel of God; nevertheless, the Philistine commanders have said, ‘He must not go up with us into battle.’

David may have appeared to be an angel to Achish, but God knew the truth.  He loved David too much and had too great of plans for him to allow this lapse of integrity and duplicity of living to continue on. 

It had already been a year and a half!  The time had come for David to get guided back onto God’s plans for his life.

Repentance isn’t always an easy road, but it always leads to a better place.  The quicker that we admit our wrongdoing and our lack of integrity; the quicker that we seek forgiveness for it and do what we can to make things right, the better.  If we have to be forced to do it, well, it isn’t usually pretty.

God not only permitted these men to be rejected from the Philistine army without any valid reason, but He also allowed the blessing of Ziklag to be burnt to the ground and all of their families and belongings to be stolen away by raiders from the very territory that they had raided among the Amalekites.

You certainly do reap what you sow!  Integrity protects us, but the lack of integrity will lead to destruction always.

1 Samuel 30:3-8

3 So David and his men came to the city, and there it was, burned with fire; and their wives, their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive. 4 Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep. 5 And David’s two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite, had been taken captive. 6 Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters.

Due to this lapse in David’s integrity, all had been stripped away.  The people who once served as a protection to David turned against him.  The friends who could relate to David the most in his own season of mourning and grief turned on him. 

David was alone.  Alone in the middle of a tragic loss.  Alone after being driven away from his home.  Alone after having his life threatened over and over again.  David was alone.

What if he was wrong?  What if he should have taken Saul’s life when he had the chance?  Maybe he missed God’s timing. 

If he had killed Saul when everyone was urging him to, he would still be loved by all of the people and would be sitting enthroned in luxury as king among his own people.  Instead, he is left sitting there with nothing and no one.

Where do you go when you find all of your protection gone and difficult questions quickly arising?  The same place that David went!

1 Samuel 30:6-7

But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.  7 Then David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, “Please bring the ephod here to me.” And Abiathar brought the ephod to David.

When all else is stripped away, the protection of the Lord is there for us.  He longs to gather us in and to cover us with His refuge. 

When we think that all is lost, we go to the One who gives and takes away. 

When we don’t feel like we have any reason to give thanks, we praise God for who He is. 

When we are overwhelmed by the weight and heaviness of life, we put on the garments of praise! 

When we are broken we go to the healer and the God of the breakthrough!

1 Samuel 30:8

So David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?”

And He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.”

David acted with a lack of integrity.  David had sinned.  David had lied.  David had stolen.  David murdered every man, woman, and child in the Philistine territories that he raided.  When he finally stopped running and returned to God, nothing had been lost after all.

God had permitted the Amalekites to burn to the ground the land given to them, but all of their valuable belongings and wives and children were kept safe by these raiders.  Unlike David, the Amalekites spared their lives and in the end, they recovered everything.

David had made a serious mistake, but all was forgiven and God quickly made everything right.  In fact, shortly after this took place, (spoiler alert!) Saul’s life was ended and David became the King of Judah.

Now, I realize that we’ve learned a whole lot about David’s life and integrity, but very little about habits.  What habit can we gather from all of this?

Seek God.

Things were set right very quickly, but that didn’t happen until David chose to seek after God.

Don’t let prayer and worship be what we do in the midst of tragedy.   Don’t let prayer and worship be just a part of each day.  Let them become as the Bible states; unceasing. 

Make it a habit to be in constant conversation with God speaking with Him and listening for His voice even in the little things. 

No, you don’t have to speak it out loud.  That’s a great way to get carried off for a mental disorder!  However, in your heart and mind, be in conversation with God and praising Him throughout your day every day.

Don’t wait like David until you have nowhere else to turn and no one else to turn to.  Make it a habit to seek after God continually.  If we did, we wouldn’t likely ever end up in that dark place.

Join us next week as we continue on David’s journey. We’ll learn very practical habits that we can form when we our integrity is opposed and we are left with that question, “What did I do wrong?”