A Light unto My Path

Tom Burke

October 2005
© 2005 Scriptural Study Groups.  All Rights Reserved.

In the book of I Samuel, we can read in great detail of the first king of Israel, Saul. We read of his early faithfulness, of his descent into pride, and of his eventual replacement by a young man named David. When Saul was rejected and David was anointed to take his place, David was, from God’s point of view, the new king. Many years elapsed, however, before David was actually to sit on the throne. During that time he was a fugitive and his life was literally in jeopardy daily.

Despite his circumstances, David unquestioningly obeyed God. Samuel 23 records a great example of this.

1Samuel 23:1–14
Then they told David, saying, Behold, the Philistines fight against Keilah, and they rob the threshingfloors. Therefore David enquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the LORD said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah. And David’s men said unto him, Behold, we be afraid here in Judah: how much more then if we come to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines? Then David enquired of the LORD yet again. And the LORD answered him and said, Arise, go down to Keilah; for I will deliver the Philistines into thine hand.

So David and his men went to Keilah, and fought with the Philistines, and brought away their cattle, and smote them with a great slaughter. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah. And it came to pass, when Abiathar the son of Ahimelech fled to David to Keilah, that he came down with an ephod in his hand.

And it was told Saul that David was come to Keilah. And Saul said, God hath delivered him into mine hand; for he is shut in, by entering into a town that hath gates and bars. And Saul called all the people together to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men.

And David knew that Saul secretly practised mischief against him; and he said to Abiathar the priest, Bring hither the ephod. Then said David, O LORD God of Israel, thy servant hath certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake. Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard? O LORD God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant. And the LORD said, He will come down. Then said David, Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul? And the LORD said, They will deliver thee up.

Then David and his men, were about six hundred, arose and departed out of Keilah, and went whithersoever they could go. And it was told Saul that David was escaped from Keilah; and he forbare to go forth. And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand.

Remarkable, isn’t it? Despite the danger to himself and his men, despite knowing that the very ones he was helping would betray him, David obeyed God. And God watched over him.

Another notable aspect of this record, however, is the insight it gives into the relationship between David and God. David asked, and God answered.

This may seem like a small thing until we consider the other kings of Israel and Judah. Certainly, many reverenced God. Many asked God for help and guidance. And God indeed worked with them, often indirectly. But not in David’s case.

A study of the Hebrew word translated “enquire” in this chapter will reveal that it means simply to ask. In verses 10 and 11, David had the help of Abiathar the priest, but before his arrival, David simply asked. David asked, and God answered.

Here, then, is a man who was familiar with the voice of God. Those of us who desire to grow in our ability to hear and walk by revelation would do well to study the example of David. How did he become so “tuned in” to the voice of God? What spiritual exercises did he engage in? What quality of heart enabled him to interact with God on this level?

Of course, David had the spirit of God upon him, without which direct communication would be impossible. But there is one great quality of David’s heart which stands out as well. Perhaps it is illuminated most clearly in Psalm 119.

Psalm 119:9–16
Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.
With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.
I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.
I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.
I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

These few verses alone communicate a depth of love for the Word of God that is rarely seen, in David’s day, or in ours.

Psalm 119:18–20, 24
Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me.
My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.
Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.

With the heart of David exposed so fully, we would expect, perhaps, to read of his longing for more and better visions. Instead, we read of his desire to know God’s Word.

Psalm 119:97,98,103,105
O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.
How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

God has not lost the ability to communicate with His people. He stands ready, even in our day, to guide and counsel. If a servant of God, like David, could enjoy such intimacy, what about sons?

We, as God’s sons and daughters, can learn from the example of David. The written Word of God so graciously and freely entrusted to us IS revelation. It is still living and powerful. And it is primary, because it is revelation which is true at all times, for all believers.

Rather than longing for something “more,” perhaps we should renew our appreciation for the wealth of revelation we already have. There are still vast storehouses of untapped wisdom available to us if we will approach God’s Word with such an attitude. And, like David, we will find that this attitude is the best preparation for receiving the direct guidance which God is so willing to impart.

Psalm 119:160–162
Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.
Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.
I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.