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"It's the Pits"
Scripture: James 1:2-3; 1 Samuel 27:1-12; 1 Samuel ...
Track 9 of 19 in the David: A Man After God's Heart series
Running time: 58 minutes, 47 seconds.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

The pits… man can the pits really be the pits sometimes. Have you ever been down in the pits? I love this phrase because it is a phrase that can sum up a whole lot of bad stuff into one statement…man this is the pits.

Have you ever used this term before? When you use it, what does it describe? Have you ever been down in the pits before? What is it like?

We all have days that are cloudy that are followed by dark nights. There is no way a Christian can go through this life without spending some time in the pits. There is nothing ethically, morally, or spiritually wrong with our experiencing cloudy days and dark nights. They are a part of life and they will come to each of us. That is way James writes the following words:

James 1:2-3 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, WHEN you face trials (the pits) of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

I have been in the pits a little this week. I was coming home from Chicago when Pam gave me some bad news. One of Jennifer's very best friends from college, one of her teammates, was killed in a car crash. Meggie Malm was not just a nice kid, she was a tremendous kid who had such great potential. Here is just a portion of what the Mizzou soccer web site wrote about her:

While at Missouri, Malm was a member of Mystical Seven, a society that taps seven outstanding seniors based on good deeds, selfless leadership and service to the campus and community. She graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering in May 2007 and was working toward an MBA at Mizzou.

To have a 22 year old kid, a person who had everything going for her to be killed in a car crash is the pits. Yet James said we are to count these kinds of things "all joy" because we know these trials make us better and more patient. All of us parents who have kids in college don't want to get phone calls that Meggie's mom and dad got from the state police. But these types of things happen all the time.

Every one of us experiences what we would consider "the pits" in our lives. It is not just death, but other terrible things can happen, the loss of a job, loss of a spouse, someone deeply disappoints us, divorce, someone causes us physical harm and sometimes neglect or the lack of showing love. It all is "the pits", we find ourselves living in cloudy days and dark nights.

Have you ever experienced a time when you went through a long period when the sun never came out? When Pam and I went to London last Christmas, we were there over a week and we never really saw the sun. Jennie said that while she was there from August to February, she only remembers seeing the sun two times. How do cloudy days and dark nights affect you? Do they skew life in general for you?

When we get to 1 Samuel 27, this is where we find David. He is in the pits. But the concern is not that he fell into the pits, our concern is what he did after he fell into the pits. We will see that David faced a fork in the road and he took the wrong way. The result was misery, compromise and in fact, 16 long months of disobedience.
What Caused the Clouds and Darkness?

You and I know that we can't change the weather. If it becomes cloudy tomorrow, there is really nothing we can do about it. But many times when we experience cloudy days and dark nights in life, it is usually because there was something that caused it. In many situations, we ourselves caused it. In David's case, he experienced tough days because of three things. Notice how 1 Samuel 27 starts out.

1 Samuel 27:1A But David thought to himself…

Here is the first problem. How many of you have ever thought or talked to yourself before? How important is it that what you say or think is the right thing? Well, David didn't. So the very first cause for David dropping into the pits is due to his humanistic viewpoint. He looked at his situation from his perspective. You won't find David once praying in this chapter. Not once when David was faced with some tough choices does he listen or consult God. He wrote no psalms, he asked for no help, he just listens to himself and basically pushes the panic button.

The second thing that caused David's problem was his negative thinking or reasoning. Notice what he says to himself:

1 Samuel 27:1B One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul.

Now what is wrong with that statement and thinking? He is talking about something in the future. But we don't know what the future holds. We can suspect or guess but we really don't know for sure. What is wrong with negative thinking? What does it produce? It produces negative outcomes. That is why his conclusion is, "I will be destroyed". What is wrong with his reasoning?

Samuel anointed him king and assured him it would happen

God spoke to him through Abigail and said he would be king

God spoke through Jonathan and said God would make him king

Even Saul told him the same thing that he would one day be king

But we see here that David ignored all of the promises from God and convinces himself that he will perish at the hands of Saul.

Why are we pessimistic? Have you ever been negative before? What causes this? The reason is, our eyes are on ourselves. It is sure to say, never once has God ever led you to a negative thought, never! These thoughts come strictly from within our sinful minds…and they can be devastating and destructive.

The third cause comes from rational logic. Too often, our rational thinking is not very rational.

1 Samuel 1:1 But David thought to himself, "One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines.

What is wrong with the rationale David is using? The best thing is to go to the Philistines? You mean there are no other better choices? In David's mind, what has happened? In his reasoning, why is this the best choice?

For one thing, Saul would not look for David in the camp of the enemy. David is correct to believe this. But the decision was very bad. This time in David's life is the perfect picture of the Christian who deliberately opts for the sinful life. In Church these days there is a group we don't hear much about. We hear a lot about the lost and how they need Jesus in their lives. We also hear a lot about the saved person who is walking in victory. But not much is said about the believer who chooses to disobey God and operate in the flesh. This is where David is at this place in scripture.

"Man is the only creature that runs faster when he has lost his way" Psychologist, Rollo May

Isn't this true? I am amazed how when we lose our way, we move quickly in the wrong direction and play into the enemies hands. That is exactly what David did. Most who walk this path often say, it's okay as long as I'm not hurting anyone.

How many actually take their lumps alone? Can someone actually live in sin and not affect others around them? How many drag others with them? Can a person actually sin to himself?

What Were the Consequences?

1 Samuel 27:2-3 So David and the six hundred men with him left and went over to Achish son of Maoch king of Gath. David and his men settled in Gath with Achish. Each man had his family with him, and David had his two wives: Ahinoam and Abigail , the widow of Nabal. When Saul was told that David had fled to Gath, he no longer searched for him.

This decision didn't just affect David; it affected David's household and all the families of the 600 men that followed him. All of these people, all the innocent people moved into the territory of the enemy all because of David. He didn't move them just in the territories of the enemy; he took them to the city of Gath, the very city of Goliath whom David defeated.

The first consequence of David's decision was it gave him a false sense of security. The pressure was gone, for the moment there was no more running, some relief. David thinks his decision paid off. But what is the problem when we sin and we think we are okay by it? The pleasure, the relief, the satisfaction we receive from it is temporary. Over time, they all the things that were dogging us come back.

1 Samuel 27:5 Then David said to Achish, "If I have found favor in your eyes, let a place be assigned to me in one of the country towns, that I may live there. Why should your servant live in the royal city with you?"

The second consequence is submission to the enemies cause. Here is the giant-killer calling himself the servant of a Philistine king. When we choose a disobedient lifestyle, when we follow after our own desires, we begin to serve our enemies cause. We actually submit to the enemy and willingly serve his wicked cause. Achish will give David and his men the city of Ziklag and they will live there 16 months.

1 Samuel 27:7 David lived in Philistine territory a year and four months.

The third consequence is a lengthy period of compromise. You might say, "Oh it won't hurt" or "a day here or a day there". "Don't worry, I can get back into the swing of things when I need to. " There is something magnetic when we try to play with sin for the fun of it for a period of time, the pull is deadly. Scars are formed in our memories and unfortunately, in the memories of others.

There are too many examples when heroes of God strayed for quite awhile. Abraham did it when he went down to Egypt. Lot also did it when he went to Sodom. Erosion set in and before they knew it, they were doing things that God didn't like; things that haunted them all their lives. When a person gets to this point in life and the consequences start to take hold, how might we expect a person to act or walk in life?

For David, duplicity begins to mark his steps. The best definition of duplicity is deception by pretending. You pretend to have a certain set of feelings but you're really operating under a different set of feelings entirely. For David, he pretended to be on the side of Achish but in reality he was raiding and killing the allies of Achish, actually hurting Achish behind his back. David and his men had to kill everyone they met so word couldn't get back to Achish.

When a person is living this lie and is questioned about what they were doing, what type of response can you expect? For David when Achish asked him how his activities were going, David answered in very vague terms. Duplicity leads to vagueness. Vagueness is a form of lying. The real truth can't be revealed so partial truth is inserted to satisfy the questioning. All this leads to secrecy. When people live in the carnal mode, they also live under the cloak of secrecy. They don't want to be accountable. You don't want anybody asking so you cover up. How good was David?

1 Samuel 27:12 Achish trusted David and said to himself, "He has become so odious to his people, the Israelites, that he will be my servant forever."

When a believer in Jesus acts this way, when a man of God who has the Holy Spirit in his life acts this way, what begins to happen inside? David still had the Holy Spirit, he still loved God but he was acting from his own reasoning. When this happens, what does it do to the person?

Right as David seemed to have the enemy fooled, a number of things happen that just crush David's plan. Even though Achish liked David, the Philistine lords didn't and eventually forced Achish to make David and his men leave. On top of that, while David and his men were with Achish getting the bad news, the enemies David had been fighting all this time retaliated; they came up and destroyed Ziklag and took captive all the families of David and his men. Running to the Philistines, pretending to fight for Achish, being rejected by the Philistines and asked to leave and now finding all the families taken captive was too much for David's men to handle. The men began to distrust David and mutiny was close at hand.

David was at his lowest point. Everything was falling apart. All his fears, all his decisions, all his lies and deception led him only to despair, depression and close to giving up. David was faced with a choice, he can give up, fall prey to his men or he can cry out for help.

1 Samuel 30:3-6 When David and his men came to Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. David's two wives had been captured-Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God.

Finally, David makes the right choice. When you are in the pits, they may seem bottomless and deep, but there is hope. When in a pit, the only help will come from above. Look up, reach up, help is there. For 16 months David looked to himself for help and it got him only to the bottom of the pit. He finally looks up and finds the help he needed. Dark days call for right thinking and vertical focus. These days are designed to bring man to his knees so he will look up.