SUMMARY: We have all felt overwhelmed. Financial stress, family stress, and work stress. We all have moments we are overwhelmed. And when we feel overwhelmed and this is combined with a little too much caffeine, work issues, conflicts at home, a task list that is piling up, impending illness, sinful urges, you have a remedy for spiritual disaster. This time in the Resolute Podcast, Vince Miller addresses the life of David and the moments he was overwhelmed.
RESOLUTE STUDY GUIDE: OVERWHELMED
Gentlemen, over the last week I have felt simply overwhelmed. A lot of it is financial stress, family stress, and work stress. And as I was reflecting, I think we all have moments we are overwhelmed. We all have chinks in our armor that life exposes and as result is a feeling of being overwhelmed. One of my sons said to me yesterday, “My life is so overwhelming,” and while I think from my perspective that is just crazy talk for a 15-year-old, from an emotional and spiritual perspective I connected with his heart. And when we feel overwhelmed as men and this is combined with a little too much caffeine, staff issues, a conflict at home, a task list that is piling up, an impending illness, sinful urges, and you have, well a remedy for spiritual fall out.
I was reflecting on what this is feels like, and thought it feels much like motoring along on lake in a boat at high speed and bringing the boat to a sudden stop. For those of us who know boating, we know exactly what happens when we do this. A rush of water swells over the back of the boat, soaking the boat and everyone in it. I think this is exactly how we feel in the moments we are overwhelmed. We are motoring along through life at high speed and suddenly for some reason life comes to sudden stop and the wake of life engulfs us.
We are not the only person who has felt this way. David also felt this way. As we are discovering in this series on David, his life was more than just a single defining moment, but full of highs and lows. Today we are going to look at one of the lows found in a few select verses, toward the later part of Saul’s life.
So, the story to this point is that David has defeated Goliath and moved into the house of Saul. David has now married Michal, developed a deep friendship with Jonathan who is Saul’s son, and Saul’s hatred of David has continued to grow, so much that he has tried to kill him a couple of times. David is growing weary of this pursuit and devises a plan to reveal Saul’s motivation through his informant Jonathan, Saul’s son. Jonathan warns David that his life is at real risk, and David leaves his wife Michal and Jonathan his brother-in-law and good friend to flee for his life. We learn that David in 1 Samuel 21 has now fled to Gath, a Philistine city. This is a well know Philistine capital city and former home to the Champion Goliath. From this point, he will spend about 8 years running and waiting out the vengeance of Saul. While we assume David’s life is easy, a deeper and longer reading uncover it is not. The next five verses are insightful about David, the man behind the man. Now they only describe facts about the situation, but I want to look deeper at his overwhelmed heart. But let’s read the text.
1 Samuel 21:10-15
10 And David rose and fled that day from Saul and went to Achish the king of Gath.11 And the servants of Achish said to him, “Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances. ‘Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?” 12 And David took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. 13 So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard. 14 Then Achish said to his servants, “Behold, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me? 15 Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”
I think we should notice several items here. But there is one detail that is very important to this section. David left one fearful situation and went right into another situation only 23 miles away. He left fearful of Saul and entered another fearful situation. Note verse 12 says that David “was much afraid of Achish.” Now he is right to be a little fearful here, since his song of praise was much welcomed by the people of Israel, but don’t forget this is a song about how many thousands of Philistines he had killed. And what is David doing now? Well he is living with them and sleeping under their roof of their palace. I believe this is a killer strategic move by David since he knows the one thing that frightens Saul are Philistines and the giants of Gath. And his strategy with the Philistines is to create shelter for himself un the guise of “insanity.” Not a bad idea since insanity in their culture was believed to be brought on by divine authority, with which humans were not to interfere with and not to interfered with without great divine consequence. And clearly Gath had plenty of madmen as the king establishes. So, David hides his sanity, behind his “insanity” as a strategic move to buy himself time while he figured out his next move. But this is not going to solve all his problems.
But what is interesting about these five verses is that during this time a Psalm was written by this overwhelmed shepherd, warrior, commander and poet. I want to read it to you and let it wash over you. It could be overwhelming to read if you are in a spot where you empathize with the fear of David. It is found in…
1 Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me; all day long an attacker oppresses me; 2 my enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly. 3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? 5 All day long they injure my cause; all their thoughts are against me for evil. 6 They stir up strife, they lurk; they watch my steps, as they have waited for my life. 7 For their crime will they escape? In wrath cast down the peoples, O God!
Wow, even if you have not been in situation, I assume we have all felt like this?
There are only a couple of times in my life that I can say I have truly felt like David feels here. Moments, not nearly as extreme as his, but moments where I could say that a sinful person was seeking me out unjustly and attempting to do me harm. Where they consciously oppressed me, sought to injure me, intentionally planned against me, and then unjustly appeared to get away with it. While we all experience feelings of being overwhelmed, we must conclude that David’s situation is unique and extreme. While many of us have moments, that we feel overwhelmed, most of this is due to conscious decisions we have made and then suffer. David’s situation is different. It is someone with conscious evil intentions working against him. And not just for a few days, or weeks, but for nearly eight years.
What is intriguing is that the occurrences in 1 Samuel 21 gives us the facts of the situation, but Psalm 56 is where we hear David’s heart. This is who he is. The man behind the veil. The guy behind the facade. This is David in that private, vulnerable, poetic moment. And you have been there. But David records his moment.
Over the years I have prayed through the Psalms many times. And I will say that these Psalms are the ones that capture me. They are the one where I see David the Commander, Warrior, Emperor King, reveal who he is on the inside. I think this is one of many reasons why David is called a man after God’s own heart.
But my favorite verse in all the Psalms by David are the words from Psalm 22:1. These are the cry of a truly overwhelmed man. Here them and reflect on them.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
You know the words because a thousand years later, and man Jesus would cry them out from the cross. They were the cry of a man who knows what it feels to be overwhelmed to the extreme. One who was persecuted at the hands of evil and suffered even though he did not deserve it.
So I conclude, it is okay to be overwhelmed. It is a place for the greatest of trust and faith. It is a place to be vulnerable. A place to rest. And a place to experience Christ, who is with you in the middle of your sense of being overwhelmed.