Rejected for Your Faith

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1 Samuel 29:1-11 (Achish sends David back)

INTRODUCTION: Our message series is on David and Saul, and we have seen how David took refuge among the Philistines in order to escape from Saul.

1 Samuel 29 picks up the story of David which was left hanging in 1 Samuel 28:1-2. There we saw that David was living with the Philistines, but now the Philistines were going to attack Israel. And Achish, the Philistine king, told David that David and his men must accompany Achish into battle. So, David is living with the enemy, and now the enemy is getting ready to attack God’s people.

This puts David in a terrible predicament. What will he do? He gives Achish a very ambiguous response: “Then you will see for yourself what your servant can do.” (1 Samuel 28:2) Once again, that could go either way. Either Achish will see what David does against the Israelites or Achish will see what David will do against the Philistines. Achish interprets it as fighting against the Israelites and makes David his bodyguard for life.

Now this whole story was put on hold for the rest of the chapter while we peeked ahead in the story to Saul’s visit to the witch of Endor. Saul’s visit to Endor in chapter 28 takes place later, after Achish tells David to accompany him in battle, even after the events of chapter 29 that we will be looking at today. So as we begin chapter 29 today, we are moving back again in the story to David and his predicament with the Philistines. (Read 1 Samuel 29:1-3 and pray)

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Have you ever been rejected for your faith? It’s a hurtful thing anytime we are rejected for any reason, but it is particularly hurtful when you are rejected because of your faith in Christ. Here you are trying to follow God and do the right thing, and it’s hard when you get rejected for that.

Last week we left David at a cliffhanger with the Philistines preparing to fight the Israelites and with David caught in the middle. Today’s story resolves that cliffhanger for us, but it also teaches us some important lessons about living for Christ in a world that is unfriendly to faith. No one likes to be rejected for their faith, and yet that often happens when you take a stand for Christ.

As a Christian, you can expect to be rejected for your faith. And our chapter today teaches us some important truths as Christians about how to handle it when you are rejected for your faith.

I. Living out your faith brings conflict with the world (1-5)

First of all, living out your faith brings conflict with the world. Notice I said “living” out your faith. You can believe whatever you want, and no one really cares. But when you begin to live out your faith, that’s when the conflict comes.

   A. You will be pressured to conform to the world (1-2)
      – Romans 12:2

As long as you live in this world, you will be pressured to conform to the world. We see this with David and his predicament with the Philistines. Look at 1 Samuel 29:1-2:

The Philistines gathered all their forces at Aphek, and Israel camped by the spring in Jezreel. 2 As the Philistine rulers marched with their units of hundreds and thousands, David and his men were marching at the rear with Achish. (1 Samuel 29:1-2)

So the Philistines go marching forth to war against Israel, and David and his men are marching right along with them. Imagine the pressure David is feeling at this time, surrounded by thousands of Philistines and going up to fight against God’s people. It’s the same pressure we feel as Christians when there is a great tide of people all around us marching in the wrong direction who care nothing for God and his ways and pressure us to go with the world’s flow rather than swim against current.

Romans 12:2 says: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2) The word translated “conform” in that verse is a word that means to be squeezed into the world’s mold. There’s that idea of pressure once again, forming you into a pattern that follows the world.

Do you ever feel pressure to conform to the world? We all do, don’t we? There’s safety in numbers. No one likes to stick out. The world is all around us constantly reinforcing its message and its ways. We all feel that pressure.

   B. You can expect persecution when you don’t (3-5)
      – John 15:18-19

As long as you live in this world, you will be pressured to conform to the world. But here’s the thing. You can also expect persecution when you don’t. We see this with David and the other Philistine rulers. When the other Philistine rulers discover David and his men in their army, they are not happy. Look at 1 Samuel 29:3-5:

The commanders of the Philistines asked, “What about these Hebrews?” Achish replied, “Is this not David, who was an officer of Saul king of Israel? He has already been with me for over a year, and from the day he left Saul until now, I have found no fault in him.”

4 But the Philistine commanders were angry with him and said, “Send the man back, that he may return to the place you assigned him. He must not go with us into battle, or he will turn against us during the fighting. How better could he regain his master’s favor than by taking the heads of our own men? 5 Isn’t this the David they sang about in their dances: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands’?” (1 Samuel 29:3-5)

When the Philistine commanders realize that David and his men marching with the army, they get angry with Achish and command him to send them all back. They don’t trust David. They even remember the song that the people of Israel sang when David came back from defeating Goliath. “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” And remember, those tens of thousands were tens of thousands of Philistines! David has a whole different set of loyalties than the Philistines, and the rulers fully expect him to turn on them in battle. So, they demand that he leave the army and go home.

As a Christian, you can also expect to be rejected or excluded for your faith. Worldwide, Christians face extreme persecution simply for believing in Christ. But here in America there are two areas in particular where the world persecutes Christians today.

The first has to do with Jesus being the only way of salvation. Once again, the world doesn’t care if you believe in Jesus. But when you begin to proclaim that Jesus is the only way to God, that’s when you will experience persecution.

The second area has to do with marriage and sexuality. When you proclaim that marriage is one man and one woman joined together for life, people are going to get mad at you. And when you say that the sexual relationship is reserved for marriage between a man and a woman alone, and that any sexual relationship outside of marriage between a man and a woman is wrong, they will really get mad at you.

When you speak what the Bible says about these two areas, you will be called bigoted, narrow-minded and hateful. You may also suffer other types of loss. The long-standing religious liberty laws in our nation are on a direct collision course with new laws against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and possibly gender identity. There are already Christians in the courts who are at risk of losing their businesses and their lifesavings simply because they are taking a stand on what they believe in these matters.

Jesus told his disciples in John 15: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)

Living out your faith brings conflict with the world. As long as you live in this world, you will be pressured to conform to the world. And you can expect persecution when you don’t.

II. Try to live in peace as best you can (6-10)

Living out your faith brings conflict with the world. And yet the Bible still tells you as a Christian that you should try to live in peace as best you can. Yes, when you take a stand for Christ, you will experience persecution, but you need to make sure that you are not bringing unnecessary trouble upon yourself. Two ways you do this are by seeking to maintain a clear testimony and by keeping a clear conscience.

   A. Maintain a clear testimony (6-7)
      – 1 Peter 2:12

First, you should maintain a clear testimony before the world. Once again, David is a good example of this for us. David maintained a clear testimony the whole time he lived with the Philistines. Look at 1 Samuel 29:6-7:

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 now, I have found no fault in you, but the rulers don’t approve of you. 7 Turn back and go in peace; do nothing to displease the Philistine rulers.” (1 Samuel 29:6-7)

Look at how Achish stands up for David here! Achish says David has been reliable. He says he would be pleased to have David serve with him in the army. He says from the day David came to him until the present, he has found no fault in him. David lived a good life and maintained a clear testimony the whole time he lived with the Philistines. He was a good citizen and respected the king. It’s not Achish who wants David gone. It’s the other Philistine rulers who don’t know him. Achish continues to demonstrate remarkable trust in David. And Achish’s trust is a testimony to David’s good testimony!

As a Christian, you too are called to live a good life and maintain a clear testimony before an unbelieving world. 1 Peter 2:12 tells us: “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:12) That’s the first way you try to live in peace with a world that is not friendly to Christian belief or practice. Seek to maintain a clear testimony before the world.

   B. Keep a clear conscience (8-10)
      – 1 Peter 3:15-16

And then secondly, you should seek to keep a clear conscience in all your interactions with non-believers. David kept his conscience clear when it came to his interactions with King Achish. Look at 1 Samuel 29:8-10:

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

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.’ 10 Now get up early, along with your master’s servants who have come with you, and leave in the morning as soon as it is light.” (1 Samuel 29:8-10)

David kept a clear conscience as evidenced by his protests to King Achish. He asks Achish, “What have I done? What have you found against me? Why can’t I go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?”

Notice David’s ambiguous words here again: “Why can’t I go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?” Notice David doesn’t specify which king he is talking about here. Does he mean he will fight against the enemies of King Achish or the enemies of King Saul? Or is David thinking of God as king here and fighting God’s enemies? For David we know the real enemies are the Philistines, and so he probably refers either to God or Saul as king in this phrase.

Achish affirms to David that he has done nothing wrong but tells him he must obey the other Philistine commanders who insist that David go back to his home in Ziklag.

As a Christian you should also keep a clear conscience in your interactions with non-believers. 1 Peter 3 says: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (1 Peter 3:15-16)

There are a number of instructions for us in this passage. First, in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. That means you refuse to compromise with the world. Second, always be ready to give an answer for the hope you have. That means always being ready to proclaim Jesus as God’s Son and the only way to God. But thirdly, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that they others will be ashamed to speak against your good behavior in Christ.

When you live out your faith in the world, that is going to bring conflict with the world. But you still need to try to live in peace as best you can. How do you do that? Maintain a clear testimony before others in the world. And keep a clear conscience in your interactions with others.

III. Trust God’s sovereignty (11)

And then finally, when you are rejected for your faith, you need to trust God’s sovereignty in all this. It’s never easy when you are rejected, whether you are rejected by family or friends or neighbors or coworkers for your faith. It is not pleasant anytime you are rejected or excluded, but God is in control, and you can trust him to work in your situation. Once again, we see this with David and his situation with the Philistines. Look at 1 Samuel 29:11:

So David and his men got up early in the morning to go back to the land of the Philistines, and the Philistines went up to Jezreel. (1 Samuel 29:11)

It seems like a simple enough verse on the surface, but we see two aspects of God’s sovereignty in this verse.

   A. God will provide a way of escape
      – 1 Corinthians 10:13

First of all, God in his sovereignty will provide a way of escape. David was put into an impossible situation. He was living with the Philistines, and the Philistines were on their way to fight Israel. King Achish insisted that they come with him, and so David and his men were marching along with thousands of Philistines armed and ready to attack the people of God. It seemed like an impossible situation with no way out, and yet God delivered him through the Philistine commanders who refused to let him go into battle.

God provided a way of escape so that David would not have to fight his own people and also so he would not have to fight Saul. This will be very important when David becomes king. David will need to consolidate the northern tribes of Israel along with Judah. It is important that all of Israel know that David was completely innocent when it comes to Saul’s death. By delivering David from this impossible situation, God was making sure that no one could accuse David of participating in the battle against Saul in order to kill him and take over the throne.

The Bible tells us that when we are put into difficult situations, we can also trust God to provide a way of escape. We read in 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) When you are put into a difficult situation, when you are tempted to do wrong, when you are tempted and pressured by the world to conform to the world, know that God is sovereign and he has promised to provide a way of escape.

   B. God will work all things for good
      – Romans 8:28

God in his sovereignty has also promised to work all things for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose. We see this with David and the Philistines as well. David and his men were excluded from battle. They were rejected for their faith. But God was working all this for good.

God was actually doing several good things here at once. He was delivering David from the terrible predicament of being forced to fight against his own people. But it was also essential that David return to Ziklag. David doesn’t know it yet, but while they have been gone, the Amalekites have attacked the city and taken captive all the women and children. We will learn about that next week in chapter 30.

If God had not intervened and sent David and his men back to Ziklag, they would have been too late to rescue their families. Once again, God was working for good. A.W. Pink comments on this verse: “How often was the Lord secretly working for you, when he turned the heart of someone in the world against you!” (Life of David, p. 199)

Romans 8:28 says: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) God always has the big picture in mind, and even when you are rejected or excluded for your faith, you can trust that God is sovereign, that God has his purposes, and that he is working all things together for good.

God used the Philistine rulers to accomplish good for David, and God can use even your enemies to accomplish his good purposes in your life. I like the story of the poor woman in the village and her neighbor who didn’t believe in God. Her neighbor often mocked her for her faith in God and tried to make her life miserable.

One day the neighbor was passing by and through the open window he heard the woman praying for bread. She prayed, “Oh Lord, I am out of food and you have told us to pray for our daily bread. Will you provide some bread for me today?”

The neighbor had an idea. He ran to the market and purchased some bread. He placed it in front of her house, knocked on the door, and then hid in the bushes. When the woman opened the door and saw the bread, she began to praise God for answering her prayer.

The neighbor jumped out and started laughing at her. “You foolish woman,” he said. “God didn’t answer your prayer. I put the bread there. God had nothing to do with it!”

The woman answered, “Oh yes, God did answer my prayer. He just used the devil to do it!”

This last verse in 1 Samuel 29 also sets up the final two chapters of 1 Samuel for us. David and his men are returning to Ziklag where David will lead his men to victory over the Amalekites. Meanwhile the Philistines go up to Jezreel where King Saul and his sons will experience death and defeat at the hands of the Philistines. God is sovereign and he is working out his plan for both David and Saul.

CONCLUSION: As a Christian, you can expect to be rejected for your faith. As long as you live in this world, you will be pressured to conform to the world, and you can expect persecution when you don’t.

It’s not easy being rejected for your faith. But it is part of following Jesus in a world that first rejected Christ. So, stand strong in your faith. Maintain a clear testimony and keep a clear conscience. Trust God’s sovereignty. God is in control. He will provide a way of escape, and he will work all things for good.

© Ray Fowler

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