1 Samuel 27:8-12 – Is It Ever OK to Tell A Lie? David Does It Here!

Posted: April 15, 2018 in Book of 1 Samuel

1 Samuel 27:8-12
David’s Army Raids Foreign Lands

To tell the truth or not to tell the truth. That is the question. For today, there will be no great illustration. Just the Scripture and then the discussion. This is a hot topic among Christ followers so let’s just get right to it and then discuss it. Here’s the passage, 1 Samuel 27:8-12:

8 David and his men spent their time raiding the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites—people who had lived near Shur, toward the land of Egypt, since ancient times. 9 David did not leave one person alive in the villages he attacked. He took the sheep, goats, cattle, donkeys, camels, and clothing before returning home to see King Achish.

10 “Where did you make your raid today?” Achish would ask.

And David would reply, “Against the south of Judah, the Jerahmeelites, and the Kenites.”

11 No one was left alive to come to Gath and tell where he had really been. This happened again and again while he was living among the Philistines. 12 Achish believed David and thought to himself, “By now the people of Israel must hate him bitterly. Now he will have to stay here and serve me forever!”

In this passage, we see that David probably conducted these guerilla-style raids because these three tribes were known for their surprise attacks and cruel treatment of innocent people. These desert tribes were a danger not just to the Philistines but especially to the Israelites, the people that David would one day lead. That all makes sense from a military, political and future governance standpoint, but David lied.

Let’s relate this situation to modern times. What if in World War II, you were captured by the Nazis and were going to be forced to reveal the location of your troops? You are a Christian. What do you do? Do you lie and preserve life or do you tell the truth and cause the death of thousands of American troops? What if you were in North Korea or China today and you were being asked to reveal the names of the participants in your house church? Would you lie to preserve their lives? What if you are in a situation where you would lose your job (and you are the sole breadwinner for your family) if you did not go along with something that was slightly unethical but necessary and if you did stand up against it you would not only lose your job but your company would lose a major contract? What would you do? What if revealing that you were a Christian would cost you your job or even your life? Is it ever ok for us as Christians to lie? You and I have been faced with this situation in some way over the years. And most likely as with me, you have likely failed. We have lied to preserve ourselves or those we love or to preserve our income or reputation or the reputation of others? Is it ever ok?

Man, I admit that I am struggling with this passage. I know that David did not want to fight against his own people. I know that there was advantage to both the Philistines and the Israelites by doing what he actually did? So why lie about it? I am sure that David felt like that the Philistines would have killed him or imprisoned him or at the very least sent him back to Israel where Saul would chase him again if he were in the kingdom or Israel.

What would you do? What would I do? What if we were in situations where we were doing God’s work and we find ourselves in that quandary of staying alive to do God’s work or telling the truth and dying. And for us in our protected, wealthy, American world, what if you and I had to choose between our jobs and the truth and if we told the truth we lost our job and got blackballed and found it hard to find a job after that. What would you do? Where do we draw the line? What are the exceptions or is telling the truth a 100% of the time thing no matter what no matter the cost?

The only thing that I know is that the consistent nature of God is truth. He is truth. Having recognized that lying may be acceptable in rare situations, we should now consider the overwhelming biblical emphasis condemning falsehood. There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that hurry to run to evil, a lying witness who testifies falsely, and one who sows discord in a family. (Proverbs 6:16–19). Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord (Proverbs 12:22). But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death (Revelation 21:8). In Ephesians, the apostle Paul says to “put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts” (4:22). Then he says, “So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors” (4:25). It is clear that falsehood is a specific characteristic of the “old self.” Paul is saying: “Get rid of your old self. Specifically, get rid of falsehood.” But yet, there are evidences in the Bible, too, of not revealing the truth or lying as preserving life in the face of evil.

Why did these people in the Bible get a pass and we as Christians in the modern world do not? Well, I do not think that this is the case. I do believe that when we lie, even if it is for the best of reasons such as the preservation of life in the face of evil, we should, as Christians, be heartbroken over it. We should be pained by it. We should seek forgiveness for it. And for sure when we are about to be placed into positions where we have to make a choice, any decision about that situation must be bathed in prayer. Let us pray to the Holy Spirit to guide us in what to do, how to answer, and go with His guidance and trust Him with the outcome even if it means our death or the loss of a job or the loss of a friendship or whatever. I cannot believe that God will want us to lie. He may lead us to not revealing the full truth. He may lead us to that option that preserves life and not revealing necessary information to evildoers. God values truth and God values the lives of His people. Sometimes, we may have to sacrifice everything including our lives to remain true to God. Every ethical quandary that we find ourselves in must be bathed in prayer and we must seek what God wants us to do and not have a knee-jerk reaction to lie – because that is our nature to knee-jerk lie to save ourselves and others. Let us seek God’s wisdom and trust Him with the outcome and not necessarily seek automatically to preserve our lives or jobs, or whatever.

What we see in David is that he is so human just like you and me. What makes the difference with David is that he always recognized his sins and sought forgiveness from the Lord with a repentant heart for his mistakes. And his lies!

Amen and Amen.

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