Patches O’Houlihan had nothing on David. If the 5 D’s could work for David, Patches could make them work in dodgeball.
First things first: learn to dodge. David learned to dodge. Saul hurled his spear at David and David “turned from his face twice”, according to the Hebrew. The NIV renders it “eluded”. The idea is that David learned to evade the spears. Being around spear throwers mandates that we, as targets, must learn to dodge the attacks that come. Often there is little that we can do about the predicaments that we are in and our proximity to spears, so we must learn to stay alive amidst the danger. By learning how to make them miss, we retain our place and remain alive. Sometimes it is the pay, the relationship (familial or something like it), or the commitment, that keeps us from relocating, forcing us to stay within spearing range, but learning how to dodge, keeps us alive.
The second maneuver is to dive away. I played goalkeeper in college. Once you start to dive for a ball, there is no going the other direction. When you are parallel to the ground there is no changing directions. That is why there is no guessing, just reacting. David had to commit to the direction away from spear throwing. The common sense reaction, the way of this world says: “Saul no longer has a spear, and now I have his”, therefore, I grab his spear and throw it back at him. But David knew that once your hand finds comfort on the handle of a spear, it will never find comfort without it again. The move has to be away from the spear and a commitment to never picking one up. Too many spear-throwers begin by picking one up that was originally thrown at them. If we are to be men after God’s heart, then we must commit to not becoming spear throwers ourselves. That means leaving the ones that were aimed originally at us, stuck in the wall, never to be thrown again.
Thirdly, David has to dip into his own soul and remember his identity. If you have ever read the Psalms, David is no stranger to probing the depths of his identity and his relationship with God. In 1 Samuel 18.12-19, David was committed to not letting the spear throwing change him. He remained in closer relationship with the Lord (12), a commander of troops (13-14), a humble servant to Saul (18-19), and a man after the heart of God. How many times does being targeted affect the target? We can become “the victim” and wallow in pity or we can be come the aggressor and start throwing the spears. Some choose to hole up and never trust again and some seek revenge at every opportunity. Some have allowed the incident to take over their every detail of their lives. They save old emails and letter of attack, archive old documents and letters of accusations or lists of people that they wronged…I for one don’t know anything about that (insert sarcastic emoji here). Each document, file, extension, email, voicemail, text, and story became a sharpened point aimed back at the ones I felt were attacking me. I became the very thing that I hated, because I didn’t know how to move on from the spear stuck in the wall. It has taken a lot for me to dip back into what God created me to be and to do.
David learned to duck; keep your head down or lose it. Through all of the turmoil, David continued to serve the man that God had chosen to lead his people (1 Samuel 18.12-16). What is good for David was also good for Saul. A victory for David meant also that the people of Israel, led by Saul, was also victorious. The spear throwers may be elders, pastors, government officials, or bosses, it doesn’t matter, God put them in that position and we are to serve as long as we are under their charge. God’s Word says:
- When the Government throws spears: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (Rom. 13.1)
- When Elders or pastors throw spears, Paul reminds us in his speech to the Ephesian Elders at Miletus: “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers…” (Acts 20.28) God picked them and the elders of the church.
- When bosses throw spears: “we are to obey our earthly masters” not as slaves, but as workers who “are working for the Lord and not for men…because it is the Lord Christ that we are serving.” (Col 3.22-24)
We could say the same for parents, friends, family members, other believers, and any other title that we could come up with. We are to learn to duck, to continue to serve those that the Lord has given us to serve.
When we are exhausted because of the first 4 D’s, we move on to the fifth: Dodge (yeah again). But before we get to that, we need to look at the last characteristic of a spear thrower. Verse 29 of 1 Samuel 18 says: “Saul became still more afraid of him [David], and he remained his enemy the rest of his days.” Once spear throwing begins, without God’s intervention and the person’s repentance, it will not end. Saul wasn’t going to stop. David “eluded” him the first time (18.11), and “eluded” him a second time (19.10). This time the Hebrew account uses the word pater. The word is used for a dam that is “breached” in Proverbs 17.14 and being “released” from a job in 2 Chron. 23.8. Essentially it conveys the idea of “breaking for the open”. David was left in 1 Samuel 19.10 with no other option than to make a break for it and run away. First of all, this is not the idea of running in fear or backing away from a fight. That is cowardice. This is David, choosing to honor God, by letting the party established by God, to rule his people. David dodged, to wait for his time and turn, appointed by God, to rule His people. As a target, there will come a time when the only option that is God honoring is to leave. In my experience, I missed multiple opportunities to honor God by leaving. I should have gone to Kearney when I had the opportunity. My spear-throwing career started, because I chose to stay. I had the chance to follow and glorify God, yet I chose to stay and start chucking. To this day, I am appalled at my profession of spear throwing. Nate and Chad told me that things wouldn’t change…I didn’t listen. Will things change for you as the target? I don’t know. But when the time comes, running is not cowardice or abandonment (as I once thought) but a decision to let God be God and his established leadership remain.