Today's passage: I Samuel 23
"Wherefore Saul returned from pursuing after David, and went against the Philistines: therefore they called that place Sela-hammahlekoth."
My heart and mind are sometimes divided. My heart says to do one thing, while my mind says to believe another. I hate taking sides. I want everyone to be right. I want to see everyone's point of view. The only way to get my heart and mind on the same page is to pray that God will bring them together. As a mother especially, my heart and mind are divided on how to handle situations in my children's lives. Do I help? Do I let him figure it out for himself? Praying is the best antidote to this predicament.
Saul was divided. Sela-hammahlekoth means "rock of divisions" because Saul felt torn between continuing to pursue his perceived enemy, David, and his real enemies, the Philistines. Saul has had his soldiers tailing David everywhere he goes. When he loses sight of him, he has spies throughout the land who are able to report David's whereabouts. When Saul has a lead, he sends men after him, in hopes to destroy him.
In this passage, David goes to help Keilah, where the Philistines have pillaged a threshingfloor. David consults God about this first. Actually, he consults Him twice. Maybe since the priests being killed, David feels on shaky ground with God. Their deaths would have weighed heavily on David, and he wants to be sure to ask God before proceeding with a particular plan of action. Should he go to Keilah, a gated city where he could easily be hunted down by Saul and trapped, or should he let the king himself aid Keilah? God says go. Does God mind that we make sure of a decision? I don't think so. David asked twice, God answered twice. God doesn't try to be mysterious with us, His will is not some mystical puzzle that we have to figure out. Searching His Word and praying will reveal it to us, although sometimes only a piece at a time. How David would escape from Keilah, with Saul in pursuit, would be information for which David would have to wait on God.
When Saul is told that David is in an actual city, not hiding in caves or the wilderness, Saul is elated. He believes God has delivered David into his hand. Saul is mistaken. Saul has not consulted with God about this matter, if he had, he would know that he should not be chasing after David at all. It is dangerous to look at circumstances and assume God is with us, or God is against someone else, unless we have first prayed to Him and asked Him if He is. Did Saul pray? Doubtful. Did Saul seek God? Unlikely. Saul was consumed with jealousy. He was allowing that to motivate him. In these circumstances, God could only be on one side. God cannot be divided. God's nature cannot be on two sides at once. The only way God could have been with both of them, was if God's plan was for David to go to Keilah to be captured, and even then, God would still have been on David's side, He would have just used the situation to accomplish something in David's life. If we have prayed about a situation, but God does things differently than how we were expecting, that does not mean He has suddenly deserted us, and is now with our enemy. It just means God is using these circumstances to allow us to accomplish something more for Him, even though it may seem like our enemy has won.
When David is able to escape from Saul and hide in the wilderness, Saul is angry. He was certain that he would be able to destroy David. Now he has to choose whether to go after the Philistines who have been using Saul's focus on David to wreak their own havoc, or to continue in his quest to have David captured. If Saul had bothered to go to God with any of this, the choice would have been clear. For a change, Saul puts his selfish desires on hold and actually does what is best for his country by going after the Philistines. It is at Sela-hammahlekoth that he makes this decision.
One of my favorite quotes is one from Abraham Lincoln which says, "Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right." If I am not sure whether I am on the right side or not, I need to pray and ask God to show me. He will. If I am on the wrong side, He will reveal that to me, so that I can get on the right side. God cannot be divided. If I am on the right side, and I am sure I am on the right side (maybe I have to ask Him more than once) but it seems that everything is going against me, I have to assume that God will reveal that I am right in the long run. Maybe it may look like my enemy is winning, but God will reveal the truth in His time, and I do not have to help Him out. When I take God's side, I am always right. But I better be sure that it is God's side that I am on.