Training for Reigning, Part 1 - Bob Sawvelle

Have you ever walked through a great success in your life, only to find difficulty at the next level? Success can be followed by struggle, but it’s important to remember during these times that set-backs are invitations to greater achievement.

Each of us is in some type of transition in our lives. Your current season, whether you realize it or not, is preparing you for the next. Enjoy each season in your life, but understand that you may be in the process of preparation for greater responsibility.

Consider King David. As a young man, he had tremendous victory against the giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17). Anointed to be the next king in Israel, David was destined for promotion. However, even though he had a great sense of purpose, he couldn’t see the future and the process he would undergo to become a king. He was being trained to reign. God didn’t allow David to see all of what would unfold after his victory over Goliath; it would have been too much for him. It was the very mercy of God.

Do You Know the Future?

God reveals “glimpses” of our future. But even the most accurate prophetic word only reveals a portion of what lies ahead. As I mentioned, it is the mercy of God not to reveal everything that is to come. Aren’t you glad?! Otherwise, you might have needlessly worried about the future. Even positive change can be intimidating. God never changes, but life does. People and friends change. Jobs change. The world around us changes.

David learned to trust God “each day,” and so must we. In Matthew, Jesus says, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matt. 6:34 NLT) Look expectantly toward your future, plan for it and work towards it, but understand God is ever present today. The destination is also your journey—enjoy today while preparing for tomorrow.

David Behaved Wisely

After David’s victory over Goliath, he was given a position in King Saul’s army, a best friend named Jonathan, favor with the people of Israel, and a wife—Saul’s daughter Michal (1 Samuel 18). As David led his troops and lived in the public eye, he prospered [Hebrew sakal], some translations say he “behaved wisely” (1 Sam. 18: 5, 14).

To understand the Hebrew word sakal, and how it translates to “prosper” or “behave wisely,” two verses in Proverbs are helpful. First, Prov. 10:19 states, that “he who restrains his lips is wise [sakal].” The person who uses words with discretion will behave wisely and prosper.

Prov. 21:11 reads, “when the wise is instructed [sakal], he receives knowledge.” Those who behave wisely and prosper are also teachable. David had favor with the troops and the people because he used discretion with his words and was teachable. Hold onto humility, discretion, and remain teachable. Character was strengthening in David, but this was only the beginning of God’s “school of ministry.”

Saul, seeing God’s favor and Spirit upon David, becomes suspicious and jealous, and wants to kill David for fear of losing his throne. Twice Saul tries to kill David with a spear and begins to pursue David for years in the wilderness of Judah.  David served Saul faithfully, behaving wisely and doing nothing wrong to deserve persecution. Had David known what was ahead after Goliath, he may have taken a different path. The giant was a formidable challenge, but his trial in the wilderness was what brought him to the depths of despair.

Supports Gone

David was being pursued by Saul through the Judean desert. Every person that offered David support in his life was being removed. David was being prepared for something great, but he was in the fight of his life to survive.

It was the perfect storm and God allowed David to go through it. David lost his position as an officer in Saul’s army. David’s wife Michal was removed from his life—she even lied to Saul about David—their marriage was never the same after that. Samuel, prophet and father figure to David, was suddenly removed.  David had to leave his closest friend Jonathan. Then in 1 Samuel 21:10-15 we read of David’s desperation.

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 thousands’?”

Now 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?” (NKJV)

David is so desperate, he goes to the Philistine city of Gath, where Goliath was from! David pretends madness at the city gate hoping they will take him in and he can escape from Saul’s pursuit. David has hit rock bottom! The young giant slayer is reduced to begging the enemy for mercy.

David was quickly to learn that you can’t lean on anyone or anything, only God. It’s okay to depend on others, but make sure your supports are anchored in God first. Perhaps you are in a season where the familiar supports of family, friends, career, recognition are being removed. Know this: “The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deut. 33:27) God is your strength—trust His everlasting arms.

The Cave 

David then flees Gath to the cave of Adullam in the Judean desert.

David therefore departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. So when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him. (1 Samuel 22:1-2 NKJV)

Understand that there are caves, and then there are caves. The caves near the stronghold of En Gedi were like the “Hilton Hotels” of caves… but this cave was like a “Motel 6!” David was brought – one could argue led – to the cave of Adullam — the lowest point he had experienced at this point in his life. David was brought to the very place where God could begin to shape him at a deeper level. God saw the end intended for David, but He knew David needed a little more training.

In Psalm 142, we get a glimpse of David’s despair—it is believed by many that he wrote this Psalm at this time in his life. David had no security, no food, and no one to talk to. All he had was a prophecy from Samuel, just a word from God to cling to. It’s dark in caves, and hope fades. Psalm 57 and Psalm 34 were also written in this season of David’s life. (We aren’t sure of the order in which they were written, but it seems that reverse order is correct.) By the writing of Psalm 34, David begins to have faith and hope again.

Refinement in the Hidden Place

David wanted to be alone in his cave, but then others came! David didn’t reject the others who were coming; he recognized they needed help too. When God brings you to a “hidden place,” it is to redirect your life, not to end it. Human perspective and the enemy would say, “You’ve lost this, or caused that, or ruined this—no use going on!”  God says, “No, no. You’re in the cave. It’s my crucible.”

David was being refined in God’s crucible—he was being trained to reign. A crucible is a vessel used to melt metals at a high temperature to remove impurities; it is also symbolic of a severe test or trial. A friend once said to me, “It’s in the crucible that God determines if you are usable!”

How will you respond in God’s purifying fire? Behave wisely, and remain teachable! Maintain the attitude of your heart, don’t become bitter, angry, or blame-shift with others. Don’t fall into self-pity and give-up! Rather, continue to praise, be thankful, trust God, and love others. Prov.24:10 NLT says, “If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.”  David’s character, gifts, and leadership skills were being refined to lead a nation—all the impurities needed to be removed in his life. Peter advises us,

Beloved, do not be amazed and bewildered at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test your quality, as though something strange (unusual and alien to you and your position) were befalling you. But insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, rejoice, so that when His glory [full of radiance and splendor] is revealed, you may also rejoice with triumph [exultantly].” 1 Peter 4:12-13 (Amp.)

Refinement is part of our Christian experience. God uses “life” to refine us for promotion.  Pressure is necessary for diamonds to be made! When you embrace your cave, instead of fighting it, and begin to allow God to mold and shape you for your future, everything begins to change. Your cave is an opportunity to regroup and move into the promotion God has ordained.

God is raising an army of believers who have been in distress, in debt, and discouraged in this past season. Welcome to the cave! You’re being trained for something glorious!  You were invited here, not driven!

In part two, I want to look at the attitude and posture toward God that David developed during this season of his life. David made many mistakes, but in this season of his life, a shift in his attitude and behavior began that was transformative. David reached a turning point in the cave—he wouldn’t walk away from God or the call on his life. David grew through the process because of 4 primary things: surrender, trust, obedience, and praise—more in part two next week!

Watch the Passion Church video, Training for Reigning, Part 1:

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Bob Sawvelle

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