When it comes to perseverance in the war between flesh and spirit, it’s virtually impossible to not be in awe of David. When we first read about Saul turning on David and trying to kill him, it might appear the only thing David could do was to run. But when I pressed between the lines of David’s story I saw that there was so much more at work here.
David was a warrior from way back! He never cowered to the demands from his flesh for self-preservation that fear demanded, but instead, runs against the odds; towards battle. Whether David faced wild animals (1 Samuel 17:34-37) or a giant that everyone else was afraid to fight, (1 Samuel 17:48) he rose to the challenge.
I love how David didn’t recoil at Goliath’s words of attack that were intended to offend and knock him off balance. Instead he responded with truth, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies – the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
At David’s response Goliath took the advance of only one step onto the battlefield and David was off like a shot; he ran! No matter how big the giant was in comparison to himself; he ran quickly. No matter that, of all the men that had been trained for military, there wasn’t a single one who would fight this guy, it was David who took off from the front line, running toward the Philistine. No weaving, bobbing or circling like you might see in a wrestling match. This reads more like a race horse anxiously awaiting the crack of the starter’s pistol.
A different type of war for David
The battles fought by David and his mighty men then shifted from the external ones, (1 Chronicles 11) to an internal one.
A war between his flesh and spirit
A battle to be fought alone – inside of himself
This battle was of integrity and belief in a promise and faith. It would mean the twisting of his soul when it met the desire of his flesh: To vindicate what surely in the natural looks like right justification. Or, to choose the delayed gratification of God’s reward – the way of the spirit.
He would be fighting for his heart
The battle was forefront in David’s mind; I’m sure, as he was constantly running for his life during this time – a hunted man. But he wasn’t running in defense of himself, but rather to preserve Saul’s life. It wasn’t that David couldn’t turn and kill Saul, it was that he wouldn’t. David’s strength to resist his fleshly temptation makes me both mentally and physically exhausted just thinking about it.
And to add more pressure to David, he didn’t just have to fight his own flesh, but also his men were pushing him to kill Saul! (1 Sam 24:4 and 1 Sam 26:8) This would have been an overwhelming temptation to wrestle through. How hot inside of David’s soul it must have been, his flesh saying, “DO IT! DO IT!” And his spirit saying, “don’t do it. don’t do it.”
Think of the toughest experience, trial, or crisis you’ve ever been in with your husband. Or, perhaps you don’t need to remember one; maybe you are still there, enveloped in it. (James 1:2-4) The thing that makes you say, “That’s it, I’ve had it. I’m so done with you. I’m come’n after you now.” Are you the one in the back of the cave waiting for your husband to be in a vulnerable position? Emotionally poised to pounce and vindicate yourself? Teetering that line between stepping forward and slicing off the corner of that robe to prove your point, or stepping back into the shadows to allow God to defend. Is the temptation of your flesh rising up to avenge itself? Or are you wrestling it down and squeezing the life out of it to build your spirit – joining God in the battle for your heart?
I lost many good fruitful years before I learned this key from David: In the natural it appeared that David’s quarrel was with Saul, an enemy of flesh and blood. But it wasn’t; the battle was an internal one – Saul was just the pressure God used to bind and squeeze David so that he would look inside of himself and see who the real enemy was — his own flesh:
- Happy and fortunate is the man whom God reproves; so do not despise or reject the correction of the Almighty [subjecting you to trial and suffering]. For He wounds, but He binds up; He smites, but His hands heal. –Job 5:17-18
- For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere. –Ephesians 6:12
- But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). –James 1:14
There is a great application for warrior wives in following how David conquered his flesh. He chose to put God above the circumstances. Even though it was Saul’s sin and David had every right (in the natural) to avenge himself, he left it up to God. Even though there were two perfect opportunities begging to be stepped into, he didn’t do it. He stepped back and made room for God.
David conquered his flesh (1 Samuel 24:5) – a true warrior to be sure, he didn’t vindicate himself. Regardless of how tough the battle got in the natural, he didn‘t take matters into his own hand and his heart remained open and unhardened for God’s way. He won the battle for his heart by trusting God to take care of it!