Notes on Israel Pilgrimage, En Gedi: Psalm 11, and 1 Samuel 24
En Gedi is an oasis, a fresh water stream in the midst of the mountain desert a short distance from the Dead Sea. En Gedi is where David was thought to have written many of his psalms. It was also here where David hid his men from Saul’s deadly pursuit.
Saul with his 3000 men is paranoid as he seeks David and his 600. They come to En Gedi where David and his men are hiding from Saul’s infantry. It was here where David had the perfect opportunity to end his flight, kill his enemy, and take what was promised to him. His men pointed this out. Clearly this was his appointed time to claim the kingdom for himself. WWJD! What would Jacob do?
This is where David’s character is set apart from all who came before or after him. David’s trust was in the Lord. He knew from whom he had received the promise and he counted him faithful who made the promise. It’s the patience of David, in the midst of suffering, fleeing, living away from his family that is on display. God is not slow in delivering His promise as some count slowness, for with the Lord a day is like a thousand years. David was willing to wait because he trusted.
How often have we come on the cusp of taking something that was appointed for us but the timing was just not right. David gives us the example here of the righteous response. How often do we whine and complain about our circumstances, doubting God, wallowing in self-pity instead of trust? How often do we run ahead of God in things when He is encouraging patience? We have to remember and trust that God is always doing a work in us and through us right where we are, even in uncomfortable circumstances.
Yet, while patience was the principle fruit on display, it was not the only one. David was filled with the Spirit of God, contrary to Saul and most of the kings that followed him. He exhibited the fruit of the Spirit in a comprehensive way in the way he deals with Saul- Love for his enemy, joy in the midst of his own obedience, peace knowing that when he shows Saul the corner of his robe his peace will be vindicated, patience in knowing that God will fulfill his promise of becoming king, kindness in sparing the life of this father figure, goodness in not putting the lives of his 600 men in jeopardy by striking the king, faithfulness in acknowledging the rightful anointing and authority of the king in power, gentleness in striking only his robe and not his heart, and finally self-control in not taking by force that which was offered to him by promise.
Any one of us could be in this position, though probably not with a promise of kingship and the lure of striking the king dead to achieve it. But for each of us we are presented our own temptations toward sin, whether it’s the sin of pride, power, greed, lust, or self-indulgence. Here in this story of David and Saul we have the example of one who sought after God’s heart. If we honestly call ourselves followers of Christ this desire to have and exhibit the heart of God comes with the package. As people with this desire we are not immune from these same types of temptations. We are however given the strength through God’s Spirit, and the examples from His Word to help us to be overcomers. Remember this place of En Gedi in your moments of temptation, and like David, choose to overflow with fruit that come from God’s Spirit.