Attracting the Unattractive

And David rose and fled that day from Saul and went to Achish the king of Gath. And the servants of Achish said to him, ‘Is not this David the king of the land?..’ And David took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish… David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men…

“Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah.” 1 Samuel 21:10-12; 22:1-2; 23:13

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears…

This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
    and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
    around those who fear him, and delivers them…

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
    and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:4,6-7,17-18

David, the anointed yet not-yet king, had fled for his life from the volatile and pursuing King Saul. Uncertain and fearful, he escaped to a hideout to regain grounding in his Lord. And he was followed, not by the bold and beautiful, not by cheerful ‘winners’ who would encourage him, but by four hundred miserable souls. They soon multiplied.

Those who live with a sense of holy purpose are attractive. They may draw admiration and adulation from the secure and famous for their accomplishments, but they will also draw the allegiance of the needy who see in them hope, confidence, and vision. While I might prescribe for David some strong, stable comrades who would shore him up in time of need (and God does provide those too), the Lord intended this time on the run to develop trust and leadership skills in David he would exercise over his imminent forty year reign. (1 Samuel 18:1-5; 20:41-42)

If we spend our efforts seeking followers we prefer, or want to enumerate or define, our attention will be spent on doing just that– shaping our persona to fit a formula. We can exhaust ourselves trying to meet others’ expectations, and lose sight of the One we’re created to serve and glorify. But when we fix our identity in God, and who He’s called us to be, our lives will be permeated with a serenity of Spirit, even when we’re flagging, that draws others to our source of strength. (Isaiah 49:3,5)

Am I more concerned with followers than whom I follow? When those who are weak come alongside, will I invest in them to build them into God’s people, to lead them toward God’s transformation? Would I overlook impossibilities and instead work toward possibilities? Many of these who aligned with David became mighty men who accomplished much for the Lord. (2 Samuel 23:8-39; 1 Thessalonians 5:14)

My Lord and gracious Redeemer, cause me to see the weak as Your beloveds, and to do what I can to spur them to grow as Your people, all for the building of Your kingdom and exaltation of You, the King.

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