When we open the pages of Scripture and dust off the ancient stories, we're quick to realize that human nature hasn't changed over thousands of years.
The cultures bear little resemblance, but the dynamics between men and women and the tensions between good and evil have changed very little. Yesterday, for instance, we talked about our common battle against anger. Chuck Swindoll describes the outcome of rebellion. David, we'll see, decided to make up his own rules, and the result, despondency and depression.
Chuck titled today's message, Cloudy Days, Dark Nights. David's life has been filled with new low after new low, one after another. And now here in 1 Samuel 27, we find David forced out of Israel altogether, living in enemy territory and far from the royal destiny God had given him. As we look at this period of David's life, I'd like you to think about how you deal with cloudy days and dark nights in your life. Turn with me in preparation for those thoughts to 1 Samuel 27, where I'll begin our reading at verse 1.
Listen closely. Then David said to himself, Now I will perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than to escape into the land of the Philistines. Saul then will despair of searching for me any more in all the territory of Israel, and I will escape from his hand. So David arose and crossed over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to Achish, the son of Maok, king of Gath. And David lived with Achish at Gath, he and his men, each with his household, even David with his two wives Ahinohem the Jezreelites and Abigail the Carmelites, Nabal's widow. Now it was told Saul that David had fled to Gath, so he no longer searched for him. Then David said to Achish, If now I have found favor in your sight, let them give me a place in one of the cities in the country, that I may live there.
For why should your servant live in the royal city with you? So Achish gave him Ziklag that day. Therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day. The number of days that David lived in the country of the Philistines was a year and four months. Now David and his men went up and raided the Jezreelites and the Gerzites and the Amalekites, for they were the inhabitants of the land from ancient times, as you come to sure even as far as the land of Egypt. David attacked the land and did not leave a man or a woman alive, and he took away the sheep, the cattle, the donkeys, the camels, and the clothing. Then he returned and came to Achish.
Now Achish said, Where have you made a raid today? And David said, Against the Negev of Judah and against the Negev of the Geramilites and against the Negev of the Kenites. David did not leave a man or a woman alive to bring to Gath, saying, Otherwise they will tell about us, saying, So has David done and so has been his practice all the time he has lived in the country of the Philistines. So Achish believed David, saying, He has surely made himself odious among his people Israel, therefore he will become my servant forever. This is Insight for Living.
For resources designed to help you dig deeper into today's topic, go to insight.org. And now Chuck Swindoll's message titled, Cloudy Days, Dark Nights. Look at 1 Samuel 27 with me as we again open the life of David for further study. Hopefully we're coming to be closer friends with this great man of God.
Also we're discovering that great men of God can have a great deal of humanity, as we will see this evening. Strange as it may seem, one of the most famous books ever written was written by a man who was serving his third term in prison. Even though he lived 300 years ago and even though he wrote in strange words, his book has been translated into over 100 languages and has shaped and changed the lives of literally millions of people.
Christians and I'm sure non-Christians alike. Literary critics would tell you that it ranks among the classics as far as the classic allegories are concerned. The man, of course, is John Bunyan and his book, The Pilgrim's Progress.
Most of you have read it and I understand that. Realizing it, I won't bore you with a lot of needless details, but just to sort of fill you in on where we are as I share with you a part of that story. The hero of The Pilgrim's Progress is Christian the pilgrim on his way from the city of destruction through the wicket gate that leads, of course, to heaven, the city of God. And he goes through all sorts of adventures and experiences and pitfalls and comes across all sorts of strange people along the way. For example, he came into the presence of obstinate and pliable.
They met him and tried to get him to go back to the city of destruction and, of course, he wouldn't do it. Obstinate wearied of trying to convince him he should and he went back, but pliable and he, pliable and Christian, fell into a bog, a deep, mirey, muddy hole called the Slough of Despond. Pliable worked his way out, but Christian couldn't get out and he looked for help and began to cry out and before long there appeared one by the name of Help.
The picture is, of course, the Holy Spirit who reaches down and lifts us from despondency. And then there was a dialogue between Help and Christian. Sir, said Christian, I was bid go this way by a man called Evangelist who directed me also to yonder gate that I might escape the wrath to come. And as I was going thither, I fell in here. Fear followed me so hard that I fled the next way and fell in and then said, Help, give me thy hand. So he gave him his hand and he drew him out and set him upon sound ground and bid him go on his way.
Then I stepped to him, that is Bunyan, who is dreaming this. Then I stepped to him that plucked him out and said, Sir, wherefore sense over this place is the way from the city of destruction to yonder gate? Is it that this place is not mended that poor travelers might go thither with more security? Listen to his answer. He said, This miry slough is such a place as cannot be mended. And that is true. There is no way the Christian can go through this life en route to heaven without spending some time, unfortunately, in the slew of despond.
If you think you can escape that that bog, you are dreaming. You are not facing facts. Now, our desire is not to chide David because he was despondent.
Please understand that there is nothing ethically, morally or spiritually wrong with cloudy days and dark nights. They are inevitable. That's why James says, Consider it joy when you come across these trials. That's not our concern with David.
Our concern is what he did when he fell in. There was a fork in the road and he took the wrong way. And the result was predictable misery compromise.
And in fact, 16 long months of disobedience. Now, there were some causes that led to these moments that David experienced. And I want to point them out to you as we start off. I suppose if we were to translate the pilgrims progress into today's terms, we would call the slew despond the pits because that's where he was. But he didn't just happen to come there. David experienced it because of three things.
I'd like to have you see them with me. Notice the chapter begins, Then David said to himself, Oh, there's your first problem. It's important if you talk to yourself that you tell yourself the right thing. David didn't. So the very first cause for his experience in the slew of despond is what I would call humanistic viewpoint.
He looked at life strictly from the horizontal. You won't find David praying once in this chapter. David never looks up until much further down the line as we end the message.
You'll see him do that. But he is coming off a spiritual high, an emotional high. Remember, he could have slain Saul twice, but he didn't. He was about to kill Nabal, but Abigail stood in his way and said, Don't do that. So he's experienced a great deal of victory.
He's come off the crest of a victory, and that's a very vulnerable spot. You ever been to summer conferences? You know what I mean. It's no problem while you're at the conference. The problem comes when you get home. No problem when school starts. It's when school continues and goes on.
They don't have those courses that last three and four days. They last years. And in the process of years, we tend to peak out, and we begin to fall. And David says to himself things that were wrong. The second thing that caused his problem was pessimistic reasoning. See what he says? Now I will perish one day by the hand of Saul. Well, that's wrong, David.
You know better than that. You notice that it's in the future. He says, I will perish. He doesn't know the future. But pessimists continually focus on the future and come out wrong.
In their minds, the future is inevitably bleak. A pessimistic reasoning surrounded David. I'll perish. Samuel had said you're going to be the king. God spoke through Abigail and said, you're going to be the king. God spoke through Jonathan and said, you'll be the next king. Even Saul, the enemy, had said, David, I realize I'm looking at my replacement. But David denied all of those promises that God had given, and he said, I'll perish.
I'll never see the kingdom. A medical doctor wrote a book some time ago entitled How to Live 365 Days a Year. In the book, he talks about a pessimist named Sam who is a rich farmer. Because Sam reminds me of so many of us at times when we're despondent, I want to read an account that this man mentions. I have asked Sam's family and Sam's neighbors whether they have ever heard Sam say a hopeful, pleasant word, and not one of them ever had. Oh yes, I almost forgot. His wife thinks that Sam did say something pleasant the first year of their marriage.
But that was so long ago, she is no longer sure. To illustrate how Sam's disposition operates, I drove into his farm one day in July, just about the time the oats were ready to be cut. Sam had 60 acres of the nicest oats you'd ever want to see. I said, Sam, that's a wonderful field of oats you have there. Sam said mournfully, yeah, but the wind will blow it down before I get it cut. I watched the oats, Sam got it cut before the wind blew it down. He got it threshed before it burned up. I knew he received a good price for the oats, so the next time I saw Sam, I said, Sam, how'd the oats turn out?
Oh, I suppose good enough, he replied. But a crop of oats like that sure takes a lot out of the soil. Another year, he had corn that ran 165 bushels to the acre. Before it was harvested, Sam was in my office and I was saying, how's the corn this year, Sam? Sam said, terrible.
It's so heavy, I don't know how we'll get in there and get it cut. At another time in October, I met him on the street. It was one of those beautiful October dream days in Wisconsin. With what I thought was a contagious enthusiasm, I said, hello, Sam, wonderful day, isn't it?
Sam's answer was, yeah, but when we get it, we'll get it hard. That's a pessimist, like Eeyore. Have you read about Eeyore? Don't look at me like you haven't read Eeyore, you've read about Eeyore.
He's a friend of Christopher Robin, you know, and he can't find his tail, and Eeyore's always down in the mouth. Why are we like that? Why do we say this bad thing will happen one day?
Because our eyes are on ourselves, that's why. I have never found the Lord lead me to a pessimistic thought, never once. I will perish. There's a third reason that he was in this deep despondency, and that is rationalistic logic led him there.
Look at what he says. I will perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than to escape into the land of the Philistines. Can you believe that statement?
That's rationalism. That says, times are hard. God's left me. I thought I could be king, but I'll never be king. I'm going to die if I keep on the front edge of Saul's army. He's going to catch up with me. I'll have to escape.
I'll go to Philistia. Well, for sure, Saul wouldn't look for him in the Philistine camp, because that's where the adversary lives. I don't want this to be such an allegory.
You miss what we're saying. It's a beautiful picture of a Christian that opts for carnality. We don't hear much about the carnal Christian, do we? We hear a lot about the lost person who's never met Jesus Christ. We hear a great deal about the saved person who's walking in victory. But David is an illustration of a believer who is a believer on the inside, but on the outside he looks just like a non-believer, because he's chosen a lifestyle that is non-believerish.
It is like a non-Christian. He says, I'll go to Philistia. Rollo May, a well-known psychologist, said, Man is the strangest of all animals. He's the only animal that runs faster when he has lost his way. Isn't it remarkable how when we lose our way, we will turn in the wrong direction and split with all our strength? And that's exactly what David did. Now, you could think, if you'd like, though it's wrong, that when you make that kind of decision, it doesn't affect anybody but yourself. As I've heard some Christians say lately, I'll take my lumps. I'll choose this route, and I'll live with the consequences. Wait a minute.
You don't take the lumps alone. You drag others with you. No man lives to himself, no man dies to himself, and no man sins to himself either.
For example, look at the extent of it. Verse 2, David arose and crossed over. Crossed over what? He left his home in Israel. He left the wilderness area, and he went into the Philistine country, but he didn't go alone. He and the 600 men who were with him. David is a commander. He's the commander-in-chief of the guerrilla troops, the Israeli troops.
He's trained these men in the cave of Adelum. They have done battle in the wilderness and among the border tribes, and he should have known when he went they would go with him. Not only they, verse 3, David lived with Achish at Gath, but he and his men and their households. So now we have David plus 600 plus 600 households. Furthermore, it says in verse 3 that David's wives, Ahinoam and Abigail, went along as well. You think you can compromise and it won't affect your family?
Listen to some names and you'll change your mind. Richard Clinebeast, Robert Haldeman, Jeb Magruder, John Ehrlichman, Lawrence O'Brien, E. Howard Hunt, Gordon Liddy, Herbert Klumbach, Richard Nixon. Regardless of your position, regardless of your interpretation of the facts, the things that happened in the Oval Office and the things that happened as a byproduct of that Oval Office and those decisions affected not only those nine, ten, who knows how many men, but their families as well. There was an awful sense of compromise that marked their lives, and they live in that. They live in the wake of it. You do not simply live independently of everyone else. When you make a decision that is wrong, you take a course that is not God's plan. You take it rather extensively among those as well that trust you and count on you and look to you and believe in you. When Abraham went to Egypt, so did Sarah. And the same is true today.
Well, really, the balance of the message is on the consequences of that poor decision. But let me point out a couple of three right now, and then we'll go further into the passage and show you the balance of them. Look at verse 4. It was told Saul that David had fled to Gath. By the way, remember Gath? Remember a giant?
Remember his hometown? Goliath of Gath. And now that's David's home.
Can you believe it? Only a matter of years since he slew Goliath in the Valley of Elah, and yet after a number of years of running and now beginning to fade in the stretch, he runs back to Gath and decides he'll live there with Achish the king, the archenemy of the Israelites. It says, it was told Saul that David had fled to Gath, so he, that Saul, no longer searched for him.
The first consequence is that it created a false sense of security. Hey, I'm safe in Philistia. At last, I don't have to mess with those troops of Saul that had been on my back and following my steps, hunting and haunting me. The pressure's gone. What a relief.
Saul stopped following him. Now, there's another reason. There's another consequence. See verse 5? David said to Achish, here's the giant killer talking to the king of Gath.
He says, if now I have found favor in your sight, let the citizens give me a place in one of the cities in the country that I may live there. The second consequence is submission to an adversary cause. When you opt for a disobedient style of life, when you choose carnality rather than spirituality, you begin to serve an adversary cause. Which brings up the third, verses 6 and 7.
Achish gave Ziklag to him that day, and the number of the days David lived in the country of the Philistines was a year and four months. So the third consequence is it led to a lengthy period of compromise. There is something magnetic about slumping into despondency and beginning a lifestyle like the lost world.
You just don't snap out of it. The plot of this dramatic story is twisting and turning, and there's much more we need to discover in 1 Samuel 27. Chuck titled today's message, Cloudy Days and Dark Nights.
This is Insight for Living. To learn more about this ministry, we invite you to visit us online at insightworld.org. Right now, let me remind you that Chuck wrote a full-length biography on David. It's the one that parallels this comprehensive teaching series. His book, nearly 300 pages in length, is titled David, a Man of Passion and Destiny.
This would make a great summer read because it chronicles the unfolding story of David from his years on a hillside as a shepherd boy to his ascent to the highest rank in Israel. And it's all told in a fashion that you've come to enjoy on this program. To purchase a copy of Chuck's biography on David, give us a call.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or visit our website at insight.org slash offer. Here's Chuck. Thank you, Bill. Our subject on Insight for Living is none other than David, the one of whom God said there, that one is after my own heart. What a grand heartwarming statement. And why would God say that of David? Well, David, we're learning, walked in harmony with God.
He had his priorities straight. And even when David fell short, he didn't waste time recovering with genuine humility and bone-deep integrity. He was, after all, a man after God's own heart. By the way, you can become a person of spiritual passion and destiny, just as David was.
No matter who you are, regardless of what you may have been through, Jesus Christ gives us supernatural strength to live for him. This is the heart of our message at Insight for Living Ministries. And now it's time to rally around this shared mission, and that is to proclaim God's truth and to make disciples of all the nations. You see, many depend upon this daily program as their single source of Bible teaching and spiritual insight. Occupying that place is my honor and absolute privilege. But I can't do this alone. This is a genuine partnership.
It's a team effort. So as God prospers you and as you measure the impact of our daily program on your life and in your home, please take a few extra moments to give a generous financial gift. Together, let's tell the whole world that no matter how difficult life has become, no matter how far a person may have strayed from God's best, it's never too late to become a woman or a man after God's own heart. and said, Chuck, your teaching on the life of David impacted me so much. I began to pray to have a heart after God as King David did. I'm still walking strong in the Lord, and I owe a debt of gratitude to your teaching. God bless you, your family, and ministry. Well, moments like these are made possible because people like you give generously to Insight for Living. Here's our phone number again. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888, or go online to Insight.org slash donate. I'm Bill Meyer, inviting you to join us when Chuck Swindoll continues his message about cloudy days and dark nights, tomorrow on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Cloudy Days, Dark Nights, was copyrighted in 1978, 1988, 1997, and 2009, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2009 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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