August 30, 2023
Outward appearances can be deceiving. God looks at the heart.
And David said to Achish, "But what have I done? What have you found in your servant from the day I entered your service until now, that I may not go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?" And Achish answered David and said, "I know that you are as blameless in my sight as an angel of God. Nevertheless, the commanders of the Philistines have said, 'He shall not go up with us to the battle.'"
1 Now the Philistines had gathered all their forces at Aphek. And the Israelites were encamped by the spring that is in Jezreel. 2 As the lords of the Philistines were passing on by hundreds and by thousands, and David and his men were passing on in the rear with Achish, 3 the commanders of the Philistines said, “What are these Hebrews doing here?” And Achish said to the commanders of the Philistines, “Is this not David, the servant of Saul, king of Israel, who has been with me now for days and years, and since he deserted to me I have found no fault in him to this day.” 4 But the commanders of the Philistines were angry with him. And the commanders of the Philistines said to him, “Send the man back, that he may return to the place to which you have assigned him. He shall not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he become an adversary to us. For how could this fellow reconcile himself to his lord? Would it not be with the heads of the men here? 5 Is not this David, of whom they sing to one another in dances,
‘Saul has struck down his thousands,
and David his ten thousands’?”
6 Then Achish called David and said to him, “As the LORD lives, you have been honest, and to me it seems right that you should march out and in with me in the campaign. For I have found nothing wrong in you from the day of your coming to me to this day. Nevertheless, the lords do not approve of you. 7 So go back now; and go peaceably, that you may not displease the lords of the Philistines.” 8 And David said to Achish, “But what have I done? What have you found in your servant from the day I entered your service until now, that I may not go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?” 9 And Achish answered David and said, “I know that you are as blameless in my sight as an angel of God. Nevertheless, the commanders of the Philistines have said, ‘He shall not go up with us to the battle.’ 10 Now then rise early in the morning with the servants of your lord who came with you, and start early in the morning, and depart as soon as you have light.” 11 So David set out with his men early in the morning to return to the land of the Philistines. But the Philistines went up to Jezreel.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation surrounded by people who don't know God and are living a life that looks different from what we're called to as Christians? It can be easy to try to blend in so you're not called out for your differences.
But instead of blending into the Philistines to make his life more comfortable, David is called out for being different. David protests being sent home from the battle, asking, "But what have I done?" (1 Samuel 29:8a); and Achish defends David's character and loyalty as someone who is "as blameless in my sight as an angel of God." (1 Samuel 29:9a)
David's words and actions toward Achish must have stood out as radically different if Achish so publicly proclaimed David's loyalty. Achish points to David's relationship with God as the reason for his work ethic, honesty, and faithfulness. Even in the midst of a time of challenge and hardship when he is surrounded by people who don't know God, David's words and actions still point others to God. God is David's source of strength, comfort, and peace in his life; and this gained the trust of nonbelievers.
As Christians, we have been made new in Christ and adopted into God's family. We are not of this world anymore, and the world will hate us for that (John 15:19, 17:14). But we should still speak and act in a way that is winsome for the Lord, pointing to Him as our hope, and acting above reproach so that even those who don't agree with our beliefs cannot attack our character (1 Peter 2:12, 3:15-17). This isn't something we can do on our own—it can only be done through the work of the Holy Spirit within us to renew our minds and help us discern what is good, acceptable, and perfect (Romans 12:1-2).
When you find yourself in a situation in which it is tempting to conform to the world, turn toward God, allowing Him to work through your words and actions to set an example so different from those around you that others can't help but notice a positive difference. And when they ask why, point them to Him.
This month's memory verse
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
1. If you were to poll the nonbelievers that you know, would they say there's something different about you in a positive way? Would they say it's your relationship with Jesus that makes you different?
2. Has there been a time recently when you've fallen into the temptation to conform to the world? If yes, confess it to the Lord and seek forgiveness of those whom you may have misled or harmed through your words and actions. If not, thank the Lord for leading you to stand firm in faith and pray that you will— through His work within you—make His name more famous.
3. When do you feel most tempted to conform to the world around you? What sin is at the center of that temptation? Ask your community group to pray for you and hold you accountable in these situations.