Written October 1, 2012
And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these 40 years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart… (Deut. 8:2)
During one of the darkest hours of my life, I found strength and encouragement by studying the personal accounts of David’s life while in the wilderness. As I began to contrast David’s wilderness experience with my own, the Holy Spirit began to enlighten my eyes. I pray this exhortation blesses those who have ears to hear and becomes a rare gift to someone in their time of need.
The wilderness is a place where your faith will be tested. Oftentimes you may be required of the Lord to do something that appears foolish or looks insane. Remember, faith without works (obedience) is dead. While traveling through the wilderness, obey every instruction given to your heart by the Holy Spirit. Your obedience will bear great rewards.
Then David arose and fled that day from before Saul and went to Achish, the king of Gath. And the servants of Achish said to him, “Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of him to one another in dances saying, ‘Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousand?’ And David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish the King of Gath. So he changed his behavior before them, pretended madness in their hands, scratched on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva fall down on his beard. Then Achish said to his servants, “Look, you see the man is insane. Why have you brought him to me? Have I need of madmen, that you have brought this fellow to play the madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?” David therefore departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. – I Samuel 21:10-22:1
The wilderness is a place where patience and long-suffering is birthed. There may be long periods of waiting. Don’t become hasty and move out of position. Wait on the Lord for your next point of direction. Fasting and praying will help build your muscles of endurance.
Then David went from there to Mizpah of Moab, and he said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and mother come here with you, till I know what God will do for me.” So he brought them before the king of Moab, and they dwelt with him all the time that David was in the stronghold. Now the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold. Depart, and go to the land of Judah.” So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth. – I Samuel 22:3-5
The wilderness is not your destiny. The wilderness is a place of preparation to receive something greater than what you already possess. In the wilderness you will always have an enemy pursuing you. Your enemy is aware of the call on your life and believes he can stop God’s plan.
Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David and that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him. And Saul was more afraid of David. So Saul became David’s enemy continually. – I Samuel 18:28, 29
Your enemy is driven by the deceit of his heart. Those who seek to harm God’s people are disillusioned. Saul was blindly persuaded that “his God” was going to deliver David into his hands.
And Saul was told that David had gone to Keilah. So Saul said, “God has delivered him into my hand, for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars.” – I Samuel 23:7
During your time in the wilderness, a beautiful love relationship is formed between you and the Father. Look at the instant communication between God and David.
Will the men of Keilah deliver me into his hand? Will Saul come down as Your servant has heard? Oh, Lord of Israel, I pray, tell Your servant. And the Lord said, “He will come down.” Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the Lord said, “They will deliver you.” – I Samuel 23:11, 12
The Lord will always forewarn you of impending danger while traveling through the wilderness. He will send delays and attacks to those who pursue God’s people.
But a messenger came to Saul saying, “Hurry and come, the Philistines have invaded the land!” Therefore Saul returned from pursuing David and went against the Philistines. So they called that place the Rock of Escape. – I Samuel 23:27, 28
Sometimes God’s warning requires recourse or a change of action to escape the danger foreseen. Seek God for wisdom in all things!
So David and his men, about 600, arose and departed from Keilah and went wherever they could go. Then it was told Saul that David had escaped from Keilah; so he halted the expedition. – I Samuel 23:13
The “wilderness experience” requires a period of dwelling (staying put until God delivers you). Many will try to run from their “wilderness experience,” but it is here where you will find God’s refuge, protection, provision, shelter, guidance, revelation, deliverance, healing, power and miracles. Resist the temptation to move out of position before your time.
And David stayed in strongholds in the wilderness and remained in the mountains in the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand. – I Samuel 23:14
The Lord will always send words of encouragement to those who are in the wilderness. God’s promise to your heart will always be confirmed in the wilderness. Do not despise the wilderness. It is God’s best kept secret. Here is where your treasure is found.
Then Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God. And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Even my father Saul knows that.” – I Samuel 23:16, 17
The Lord will see to it that you are covered during your wilderness experience. Here is a perfect demonstration of one covering his brother in the wilderness. Remember, seasons change. Though your hour of affliction may not come today, God knows what tomorrow holds. Even if you may not fully understand, be sensitive to those walking through the wilderness. Everyone’s experience is different.
So the two of them (Jonathan and David) made a covenant before the Lord. And David stayed in the woods and Jonathan went to his own house. – I Samuel 23:18
As your enemy continues to pursue you in the wilderness, so will his disillusionment increase.
Then the Ziphites came up to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “Is David not hiding with us in strongholds in the woods, in the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south of Jeshimon? Now therefore, oh, King, come down according to all the desire of your soul to come down and our part shall deliver him into the king’s hand.” And Saul said, “Blessed are you of the Lord, for you have compassion on me.” – I Samuel 23:19-21
You will always have people watching you during your wilderness experience, especially your enemy.
Now it happened, when Saul had returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him saying, “Take note! David is in the Wilderness of EnGedi.” – I Samuel 24:1
While in the wilderness, be mindful of your thoughts and people who persuade you to take matters into your own hands.
Look, this day your eyes have seen that the Lord delivered you today into my hand in the cave, and someone urged me to kill you, but my eye spared you, and I said, ‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.’ – I Samuel 24:10
The ultimate purpose of the wilderness is for you to form a new love relationship with Abba God, to witness and become a firm believer of God’s hand of deliverance, and for God to test the heart of man.
Therefore let the Lord be judge, and judge between you and me, and see and plead my case and deliver me out of your hand. – I Samuel 24:15
Be on guard when your enemy extends his hand of peace and shows repentance. Patience will always reveal the true character of the heart.
So it was, when David had finished speaking these words to Saul, that Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” And Saul lifted up his voice and wept. – I Samuel 24:16
Do not avenge those who pursue your life while dwelling in the wilderness. Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. I will repay.
(See I Samuel 24:4-12)
The wilderness oftentimes removes you from those closest to you. You may feel led by the Holy Spirit to withdraw during special moments when your loved ones may need you most. This is a test of your obedience.
Then Samuel died and the Israelites gathered together and lamented for him and buried him at his home in Ramah. And David arose and went down to the Wilderness of Paran. – I Samuel 25:1
While walking through your wilderness experience, you may suffer periods of rejection and ridicule. Do not take this response personal. This test will burn “man-pleasing” and “the fear of man” from the crevices of your heart. Humiliation will always proceed your hour of promotion.
(See I Samuel 25:4-11)
The wilderness is a furnace of affliction where your heart will be tested again and again. Remember, God is doing the testing, while Satan is doing the tempting. If Satan cannot conquer you on one end, he will come at the other. David passed the test and allowed God to avenge his enemy and not take matters into his own hands.
(See I Samuel 25:2-39)
No matter how much pressure you receive from your enemy while walking through the wilderness, you must respond in love and remain confident that the Lord will avenge you of your enemy. Standstill and see the salvation of God.
David said furthermore, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he will go out to battle and perish.” – I Samuel 26:10
One of the greatest lessons the wilderness can teach you is the willingness to humble yourself underneath the mighty hand of God. Surrender your life before your enemy, and the Lord will lift you up in due season. Do not take matters into your own hands.
The Lord forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the Lord’s anointed. – I Samuel 26:11
Be on guard against your enemy. Again, Saul cowers into a false poise of humility. His words have changed, but his heart has not.
Then Saul knew David’s voice and said, “Is that your voice, my son David?” David said, “It is my voice, my lord, oh, king.” – I Samuel 26:17
During your wilderness experience, the Lord may temporarily assign you to a place. Do not mistake your visitation for permanency. You are only passing through. Your wilderness experience will always lead you towards the place of promise.
Now the time that David dwelt in the country of the Philistines was one full year and four months. So Achish believed David saying, “He has made his people Israel utterly abhor him. Therefore, he will be my servant forever.” – I Samuel 27:7, 12
During your wilderness journey, “false religious jargon” will become easy to discern. David was not wooed by Saul’s flattery, neither should you be wooed by the smooth words of your enemy.
Then Saul said to David, “May you be blessed, my son David! You shall do great things and also still prevail.” So David went his way, and Saul returned to his place. – I Samuel 26:25
Your wilderness experience will never overshadow your gifts. What you were born to do will shine all the more. Leaders spot greatness no matter where you are.
So David said, “Surely you know what your servant can do.” And Achish said to David, “Therefore, I will make you one of my chief guardians forever.” – I Samuel 28:2
During your wilderness journey, the Lord will always surround your pursuer with an enemy of his own, one that is greatly feared.
Then the Philistines gathered together and came and encamped at Shunem. So Saul gathered all Israel together, and they encamped at Gilboa. When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. – I Samuel 28:4, 5
During your wilderness journey, your enemy will try his best to make you assume your own insanity. Remember, your enemy is not in relationship with God. This is why he is pursuing you. He fears you will receive the promise of God and take his place. Consequently, your enemy will not be able to dodge the danger of his own enemy because he cannot hear the counsel of God concerning the traps being laid before him.
And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets. – I Samuel 28:6
Your enemy will always operate out of a spirit of false religion and hypocrisy. He is known for performing changes to please men while his heart remains unchanged. In verse 3, Saul gathered the witches and sorcerers and put them out of the land. Yet in verse 7, we see Saul asking one of his servants to locate a witch to receive guidance because he is no longer hearing the voice of the Lord.
And Saul had put the witches and the sorcerers out of the land. Then Saul said to his servant, “Find me a woman who is a witch, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” – I Samuel 28:3, 7
Once your enemy removes himself from seeking the counsel of God, his downfall is eminent. The question is no longer “if” but “when.” During this moment, standstill and keep out of God’s way.
So Saul disguised himself and put on other clothes, and he went, and two men with him; and they came to the witch by night. And he said, “Please conduct a seance for me, and bring up for me the one I name to you.” – I Samuel 28:8
Witchcraft will always become the tool of the hour in your enemy’s desperate but futile attempt to keep from going down. Witchcraft is a combination of pride, deceit, fear and rebellion. This tool will always prove fruitless against those traveling on purpose through the wilderness for the Lord.
(See I Samuel 28:9-14)
The Lord will always forewarn your enemy of his impending doom. It is up to him to take heed and repent before it is too late.
Then Samuel said, “So why do you ask me, seeing the Lord has departed from you and has become your enemy? And the Lord has done for Himself as He spoke by me. For the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David. Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord nor execute His fierce wrath upon Amelek. Therefore, the Lord has done this thing to you this day. Moreover, the Lord will also deliver Israel with you into the hand of the Philistines. And tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also deliver the army of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.” – I Samuel 28:16-19
Fear will become the leading cause of your enemy’s demise leading to hopelessness, loss, sickness, mental anguish and oftentimes death.
Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground and was dreadfully afraid because of the words of Samuel. And there was no strength in him, for he had eaten no food all day or all night. – I Samuel 28:20
During your wilderness journey, the Lord will reveal which battles do not belong to you. Every encounter you face does not demand direct warfare.
(See I Samuel 29:2-11)
Your wilderness experience will not stop your former victories from being remembered.
Is this not David of whom they sang to one another in dances saying, ‘Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands?’ – I Samuel 29:5
Great trouble surrounding an impossible situation, false accusations and misunderstandings is a strong indication that God’s hand of deliverance is upon you. When you are experiencing turmoil and emotional turbulence at great levels, this is a sign that your promotion is drawing nigh. The best way to calm the storms of your soul is to do what you are doing right now: Encourage yourself in the Lord!
So David and his men came to the city and there it was burned with fire and their wives, their sons and their daughters had been taken captive. Then David and the people who were with them lifted up their voices and wept until they had no more power to weep. Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord. – I Samuel 30:3, 6
During your final hours in the wilderness, it is crucial that you seek God’s face for your next plan of action. This moment is highly sensitive. Depend on God’s grace to successfully see you through. Whatever instruction the Holy Spirit gives you, perform it with the fullest of joy in faith.
So David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?” – I Samuel 30:8
Upon exiting the wilderness, the Lord will always release power upon the heads of His chosen vessels to recover all that was taken from them during their journey in the wilderness.
And the Lord answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.” – I Samuel 30:8
The Lord will always connect you with vital messengers that will aid in your victory as you prepare for your exit out of the wilderness and into the promised land.
(See I Samuel 30:11-19)
When the Lord pursues your enemy, he will always be caught unaware; whether sleeping, eating, drinking or carousing for his god is his belly.
And when he had brought him down, there they were, spread out all over the land, eating and drinking and dancing, because of all the great spoil which they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah. – I Samuel 30:16
During your journey through the wilderness and upon your entrance into the promised land, the Lord will always keep His word.
And nothing of theirs was lacking either small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything which they had taken from them. David recovered all. – I Samuel 30:19
Upon exiting the wilderness, your heart will continue to be tested. Be slow to speak and swift to hear. Hasten slowly as you continue to carry the banner of love. It is also worth mentioning that everyone, whether on the front line or those guarding the house, is important in God’s battle. Both will be rewarded!
Then the wicked and worthless men of those who went with David answered and said, “Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered except for every man’s wife and children, that they may lead them away anddepart.” But David said, “My brethren, you shall not do so with what the Lord has given us, who has preserved us and delivered into our hand the troop that came against us. For who will heed you in this matter? But as his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be who stays by the supplies. They shall share alike.” – I Samuel 30:22-24
One of the marked attributes of one who has successfully survived the test of the wilderness is the developed heart of a giver.
Now when David came to Ziglak, he sent some of the spoil to the elders of Judah, to his friends saying, “Here is a present for you from the Lord from the spoil of the enemies of the Lord.” – I Samuel 30:26
And, finally, the Lord will always see to it that your enemy is defeated on your way out of the wilderness and into the land of promise.
(See I Samuel 31:3-13)