April 19 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“But David thought to himself, ‘One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will give up searching for me anywhere in Israel, and I will slip out of his hand.’” ~1 Samuel 27:1

Still on the run, David finds safe haven in the most unlikely place, the land of the Philistines. The Philistine nation was comprised of five city-states situated near the Mediterranean coast. They were masters of the sea and the sword. (Though not related, they were comparable to the Viking people of the Middle Ages.) David’s fame is built on his defeat of Goliath of Gath in a battle against the Philistines, and now he craftily uses sworn foes as a buffer between himself and his enemy, the King of Israel. His plan works. Saul discontinues is campaign to hunt down his rival upon hearing that David is living among the Philistines. Pursuing him is an unnecessary risk. Perhaps Saul also believes that David had abandoned all hope of becoming king.

I wonder if David ever asked himself, “How did I get here?” It’s a long road from contented shepherd boy to Israel’s royal successor and from celebrated warrior to hunted fugitive. A song was written in his honor, topping the charts in Israel and beyond, but now he is in hiding. He lives in a foreign land among his enemies surrounded by roughnecks and ruffians who make a living raiding Canaanite villages. This is not David’s dream.

I have lived long enough to know that God often guides us down unexpected paths. We may live in places we never dreamed of living. We may work jobs we never thought we would. We must learn from those who have lived before us: life is often filled with unexpected twists and turns. When it bends in a way that takes us into pain or trial, we must remember people like Jacob fleeing his brother’s wrath, and Joseph forced into slavery in Egypt, and Moses choosing exile in the desert, and David hiding in Philistia. Each one a man whose difficult road led him to great blessing under God’s hand. Trust God right where you are now because He has not abandoned His plans for you. This is part of the plan. Be comforted by the words of poet William Cowper: “Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust him for his grace, behind a frowning providence, he hides a smiling face” (“God Moves in a Mysterious Way”). May God protect and bless you wherever you are, even in the land of Philistia.

Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.