1 Samuel 26:12-25
One of the hazards that motorists, bikers and pedestrians everywhere must contend with are potholes. Many people have experienced the damaging and debilitating effects of potholes. Potholes are openings in the surface of roadways. The holes are caused by heat and stress. Most roadways are built in layers. The top layer is asphalt and underneath it are dirt and gravel. As the top layer begins to crack it allows snow and rainwater to seep in and when the temperature changes and it gets colder the water freezes and expands. Some of the dirt and gravel is pushed out as a result, leaving a hole when the water melts. Drivers continue to drive over these unseen holes, putting even more stress on the thin asphalt top layer covering them. Eventually, the asphalt over these divots collapses, creating traffic hazards we call potholes.
Potholes are not only a problem for motorist and pedestrians, but they are also present problems in the lives of believers. Potholes form in the lives of believers in the same way they form in roadways. Like roadways, God created people in layers physical, mental/emotional and spiritual. As we experience the heat and stressors of life such as, financial difficulties, relationship difficulties, career challenges, family/marital challenges and other difficulties and challenges the top layer of our being experiences cracks from over exposure to heat and the stress of daily living. Essentially, we wear down. Once there are cracks in the top layer of our being, we are vulnerable and open to other elements of life seeping in and damaging our underlying layers. Thus, a pothole is formed in our lives.
Saul and David’s relationship hit a pothole. The damage to their relationship was extensive. Saul was pursuing David to end his life and David was on the run in fear of losing his life. As we look at the relationship between Saul and David, we learn that potholes come in different shapes and sizes and small potholes are a problematic as large ones. Hitting a large pothole will usually result in immediate and extensive damage. On the other hand, hitting smaller potholes repeatedly can cause the same amount of damage, but over a longer period of time.
One of the real problems with potholes is that in most cases you do not see them until after you have hit them and the damage is already done. Another problem with potholes is they derail us. Potholes can cause us to lose control and throw us off course. Tell tale signs that a car has hit a pothole are the strange noises it makes, poor handling on the road and its alignment is off. Similarly, after we have hit a pothole it throw off our alignment and like a car, we begin to pull to the right or to the left. We become extremists. We begin to over compensate for our poor handling of life situations and challenges. A third problem with potholes is they can be potentially life threatening. Saul was intent on killing David. Potholes in life can end marriages, relationships, friendships, business partnerships, careers, families and even churches.
This one of the reasons it is critically important that believers raise their level of awareness regarding the reality and existence of potholes in the roadway of life. As believers raise their awareness of the landscape and roadways of their lives, they will be better able to spot, identify and avoid the various potholes in their path. The truth is that the size of the pothole does not matter. The goal is to avoid them at all cost. The only way we can avoid potholes is to be aware of them. Believers have to see the potholes of deception, unforgivness, jealousy and envy, lust, pride, laziness, fear and compromise. Once we see them we can swerve out of their way.
Avoiding potholes is easier said then done as we see from Saul and David’s relationship. They hit the pothole of ignorance and it almost resulted in a tragic end for both of them. Both were guilty of ignorance. Saul was operating off of misinformation and never took the time to discover the truth about David or his intentions. David had no idea what he had done to warrant such hostility and ignorance caused a rift in their relationship.
The pothole of ignorance can be especially damaging to a relationship. Ignorance by definition is to not know or to be unaware. The lack of recognition of a small problem leads to the development of much bigger problems or potholes down the road. Once we recognize a problem exists in our personal lives, relationship/marriage, career, with our children, with our health, finances, in our church, etc., we need to deal with it immediately. The longer a problem is left untreated, the potential for it to become worse increases. In other words, once we hit a pothole DO NOT KEEP DRIVING and pretend like everything is OK. Saul and David kept driving and the little sink hole they hit years earlier widened and grew and became a pothole. All because they failed to get out of the car.
The failure of Saul and David is instructive for us. Their failure teaches us that after we hit a pothole, WE NEED TO ACKNOWLEDGE WE HIT SOMETHING. In verse 15 David confronts Saul and Abner, a leader in Saul’s army. David says, “Why didn’t you guard your lord and king. Someone came to destroy your lord the king.” Essentially, David brought to Saul’s attention something has happened. Some where along the way we hit a snag in our relationship that has thrown us both off course and we need to address it now. I know of many people who refuse to admit a problem exists in their relationship, their marriage, with their children, in their careers or career pursuit because they are afraid they might discover they are the root cause of the problem. I know because I was one of them. Ignorance is not a crime, but to remain in ignorance is a crime. Not to mention, ignorance, not knowing and/or a lack of awareness comes with a very high price. Ignorance left untreated has the ability to erode the fabric and texture of relationships. It will gnaw away at the foundation of our lives causing us to be left vulnerable and exposed like Saul. How do we combat this, by acknowledging a problem exists. If David does not speak up, either Saul kills him, or David would have killed Saul. We too need to speak up and also listen to others when they bring to our attention, “Houston, I think we have a problem.” Somewhere along the way we hit something, probably a pothole that has throw us off course and we need to find out now.
They say the first step to fixing a problem is admitting a problem exists. The next step is to ASSESS THE DAMAGE. David in verse 18 asks the question, “Why is my lord pursuing his servant? What have I done, and what wrong am I guilty of?” David not only get out of the car, but he performs a 20 point inspection. David’s actions illustrate that after we have acknowledged a problem exists, we need to walk around the vehicle and do a visual and physical inspection. We need to not only check the outside, but also the inside. In other words, potholes have the ability to cause hidden damage to the internal workings of our relationships, marriages, careers, churches, etc. Therefore, it would behoove us to lift up the hood and check the belts, hoses, spark plugs and timing mechanisms of our relationships. To put it another way, we need to examine the things that make us go and hold us together the lines of communication, shared goals, dreams and vision, are we on the same page or are we going in different directions, are we in this together or are we going our separate ways. The bottom line is, we need to know how bad and extensive the damage/problem is what it will take to fix it.
In verse 21, Saul, after being confronted with an honest assessment of the situation remarks, “I have sinned. Come back, David my son. Because you considered my life precious today, I will not harm you again. Surely I have acted like a fool and have erred greatly.” Here we see that following and assessment of the damage, we need to REPAIR THE DAMAGE. The antidote for ignorance is truth. However, the antidote can only work if it is offered and then received. David, for his part presented the facts. Facts are hard to refute. Unlike a cornered wounded animal, David never verbally attacked or assaulted Saul, he simply stated the facts. David directed Saul’s attention to the fact that the root of their problems was misinformation. Saul had been fed misinformation about David by individuals who did not want the relationship between Saul and David to grow and develop. In relationships when we are confronted with the facts, for the health and well being of the relationship we must digest them. The only way to repair a relationship damaged by the pothole of ignorance is a clear presentation of the facts. The goal is not to establish fault, but to repair the damage ignorance has caused. A secondary point is that, many problems in relationships can be solved by dealing with the facts and thereby exposing ignorance. Very often people want others to stop a certain behavior and in stead of explaining why a particular behavior is a problem, some people only complain about it. Much of what people do that bother us is born out of ignorance. In many cases, people do not know. Unless we take the time to explain how something makes us feel or how it affects us, others are oblivious of the affect their actions have on us. The other side is once a person has shared or explained how something affects them, makes them feel uncomfortable, we need to receive what they have shared and not dismiss it.
The confrontation between Saul and David reveals that while potholes exist and have the potential to cause extensive damage, if we are proactive, raise our level of awareness and make every effort to avoid them it will make for a smoother ride through life. On the other hand, if and when we hit a pothole we must Acknowledge we have hit one, stop and Assess the damage and Repair the damage so that we can get back on the road.
March 14, 2010