“And David inquired of the LORD, ‘Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?’ He answered him, ‘Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue’” (1 Samuel 30:8).
David is frequently characterized in the book of 1 Samuel as a fearless warrior, one who led his people into battle with courage. From the time of his felling of Goliath, he rose in prestige in Israel, to the extent that Saul feared him and tried to kill him. David spent the next few years of his life hiding from Saul, but even then he was not cowed. Instead, he gathered a band of vigilantes and led them in frequent raids. Even as an outcast, he was leading others into war against their enemies. But this is not his greatest quality. What made him such an incredible leader was his understanding of God’s guidance in his life.
During his years of hiding, David made an interesting decision to join the Philistines. He gained the trust of Achish, one of the Philistine lords—which was equally interesting, as he was never actually doing what Achish thought he was. When the Philistines went up to make war on Saul, David went with them. But the other Philistine lords didn’t take kindly to his presence. They insisted he would betray them, and they forced Achish to send him away. David reluctantly agreed, and he and his six hundred men returned to their home.
Upon reaching their city, however, they learned of terrible news. An Amalekite band had attacked the city and carried away all the women and children. David’s men were distraught. They blamed him for this, even threatening to stone him.
David, however, had a different reaction. He too was upset, but his first action was to turn to God. He “strengthened himself in the LORD his God” (1 Samuel 30:6b). Then he sought God’s direction in their situation. He most certainly wanted to chase after the raiders and win back his family, but he knew that he first needed to ask God what they should do. And when God told him that the right course of action was to pursue the Amalekites, he did so without hesitation. He and his men were able to defeat the raiders and reclaim their families.
David’s boldness made him a leader people wanted to follow. But that wasn’t the only reason. His dedication to God was clear in everything he did. Even in a situation that affected him so personally, he stopped to seek God’s guidance. He would do nothing without divine direction. He knew the importance of obedience, and he would submit himself to God no matter the cost.