1 Samuel 29:1-11 – Sometimes, God’s Greatest Gifts Are Unanswered Prayers

Posted: April 18, 2018 in 09-1 Samuel

1 Samuel 29:1-11
The Philistines Reject David

As I sit here in April 2018 as the administrative/business pastor of Calvary Church under the leadership of a sensitive and humble leader and senior pastor, Tim Bowman. I am thankful for the rejection of a church that I interviewed with in December 2016/January 2017. There was a church in Ohio back during that time frame that I had gone through phone interviews and a video interview with and finally was invited for an on-site interview in January 2017. It was similar to the on-site interview that I had with Calvary. It was a weekend of interviews, showing us around the city and the church, attending Sunday worship services, and then finally after Sunday services, we had a final interview with the founding pastor, the current senior pastor and selected elders of the church.

The whole weekend was very positive and the sense that I had gotten from the whole interview process was that I was the leading candidate for the job. The original founding pastor, during our final Sunday afternoon large group interview, seemed to have some misgivings during the interview about the fact that I wanted to be more than just the business operations manager of the church. I wanted to be a pastor with teaching and preaching responsibilities in addition to my business management role. I thought I handled it well and everybody seemed satisfied with my answers to his questions. We returned home to South Carolina thinking that the job offer would follow the Monday evening after we got back home. We even spent Sunday and Monday night discussing how to sell our house and so on. However, Sunday and Monday came and went. Even Tuesday came and went. I was uneasy as I had heard nothing. Finally on Wednesday afternoon, I couldn’t take it anymore. I called the senior pastor and asked him what the deal was. He told me that after much discussion that they did not feel that I would be happy in the job and would not consider it a destination job and that I might be there only a few years and leave. I was crushed by the rejection. It took me a long time to get over it. I thought I had the job in the bag and I thought that this church was where God was leading us as a pastoral couple. I was distraught. I went through an emotional and spiritual valley as a result of the rejection.

However, sitting here today, as pastor on staff at Calvary Church of The Quad Cities, I can honestly say that I am thankful for the rejection now. Looking back at the previous close call in Ohio, I see that the church there was just not right for me. I wanted it so bad I overlooked some of the flaws that may haunt that church in the future and the job at that church simply is not what I have now at Calvary. Although I was crushed at the time and the rejection made me question my call to ministry for a couple of months, I am glad that it happened now. God designed this pastoral position at Calvary for me. The senior pastor at Calvary wants me to grow to be more and have growing responsibilities as I progress down the road with him. The church staff is awesome. There is true sense of family and unity to the staff that you can just sense. I can feel the Holy Spirit very palpably with His hand in the way the church is being positioned for the future right now. The senior pastor is reinvigorated with the energy that he has gathered in this season of change at the church. The new pastors and staff members that he has brought on board within the past year and half are all just eager and ready for what God is about to do in our church and its people. There is an eagerness here that I am so thankful that God has seen fit to allow me to be a part of. Just the feel of the place is right. God confirms for me daily that we are in the right place. I love this church, the senior pastor/my boss, the other staff pastors, and the non-pastoral staff of the church. And, man, are the people of the church just the most supportive people you would ever want to meet! I am convinced by the Holy Spirit daily of this being the right place for us. I am convinced by the Holy Spirit daily that as I gain a greater and greater grasp of my role here that I can really make a difference here. I am thankful for the rejection of a year ago. For without it, I would not be at Calvary Church. It kind of reminds you of the old 1990’s classic song by Garth Brooks, “Unanswered Prayers”. One part of the chorus of that song states “sometimes God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers!” Without the unanswered prayer/the rejection in Ohio, I would not be standing here in the perfect situation for Elena and me as a pastoral couple. We are in the right place because God was looking out for us in that situation in Ohio.

That idea of blessings being hidden in rejection is what I thought of this morning when I read through this passage, 1 Samuel 29:1-11, this morning. That idea of God looking out for us through rejection. That idea of God making sure that we do not fall for the immediate bright and shiny object in front of us so that he can lead us to where we really wants us to be is what I thought of. We may be dismayed at God at the time but we must trust Him to lead us to where He wants us to be. That’s the idea that came out of my study of this passage this morning. Let’s read it now together:

29 The entire Philistine army now mobilized at Aphek, and the Israelites camped at the spring in Jezreel. 2 As the Philistine rulers were leading out their troops in groups of hundreds and thousands, David and his men marched at the rear with King Achish. 3 But the Philistine commanders demanded, “What are these Hebrews doing here?”

And Achish told them, “This is David, the servant of King Saul of Israel. He’s been with me for years, and I’ve never found a single fault in him from the day he arrived until today.”

4 But the Philistine commanders were angry. “Send him back to the town you’ve given him!” they demanded. “He can’t go into the battle with us. What if he turns against us in battle and becomes our adversary? Is there any better way for him to reconcile himself with his master than by handing our heads over to him? 5 Isn’t this the same David about whom the women of Israel sing in their dances,

‘Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands’?”

6 So Achish finally summoned David and said to him, “I swear by the Lord that you have been a trustworthy ally. I think you should go with me into battle, for I’ve never found a single flaw in you from the day you arrived until today. But the other Philistine rulers won’t hear of it. 7 Please don’t upset them, but go back quietly.”

8 “What have I done to deserve this treatment?” David demanded. “What have you ever found in your servant, that I can’t go and fight the enemies of my lord the king?”

9 But Achish insisted, “As far as I’m concerned, you’re as perfect as an angel of God. But the Philistine commanders are afraid to have you with them in the battle. 10 Now get up early in the morning, and leave with your men as soon as it gets light.”

11 So David and his men headed back into the land of the Philistines, while the Philistine army went on to Jezreel.

In this passage, we see that the other Philistine commanders knew that David was the one who, as young man, had killed their champion, Goliath (1 Samuel 17:32-54), had killed many Philistine soldiers (1 Samuel 18:27), and was the hero of Israelite victory songs ( 1 Samuel 21:11). They were afraid that, in the heat of battle against the Israelites, David might turn against them. Although David was upset at this disrespect at first, God used the commanders’ suspicions to keep him from having to fight against Saul and against his Israelite countrymen. Although David was, as was his normal sense of honor and duty, being loyal to the king that had showed him favor (as we have seen David being loyal to Saul, the man who was trying to chase him down and kill him), it would have so seeds of discord within Israel that would have hampered him greatly in his ability to rule the Israelite kingdom later. God was looking out for David’s future role and ability to lead the people of Israel later in his life. David was disappointed for sure but I bet years later he was thankful for this rejection.

Just as David was disappointed and distraught here because of the rejection and believing that he should have been rewarded for his loyalty to the Philistine king, he came to find out that in the long run, his rejection as a participant in the battle was the best thing for his later kingship. God was looking out for him. Same with me. The rejection of Ohio hurt deeply. I had done what God was calling me to do. I was seeking out opportunities to serve him as a full-time vocational pastor. I was seeking after him. I thought Ohio was the reward. However, God knew that church was not the right place for me. God knew that in the long run Calvary Church was the best place for me, was what He really wanted for me. I am thankful for the rejection now. I am so thankful for that rejection. I have no doubts that He has me in the right place now.

Sometimes God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers!

Amen and Amen.

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