When I think of the story of David, I cannot help but think about the mighty men surrounding him. Sometimes it seems that our mythical and legendary heroes of today had nothing on those real men of old! Their feats take up very little space in the overall scheme of Scripture, but the stories make me hunger to know more. What heroic epic is more fascinating than a true one?
I read a verse yesterday, though, that I had never really stopped to consider before. Toward the beginning of David’s years of flight from Saul, he and his men find themselves face to face with a conundrum. The Philistines are attacking the people of a town called Keilah, and David desires to help the people. So, he consults with the Lord, and the Lord tells him to go and fight. David’s men disagree.
But David’s men said to him, “Behold, we are afraid here in Judah. How much more then if we go to Keilah against the ranks of the Philistines?” 1 Samuel 23:3
Could these really be the heroic men of David? Surely not! These men are running scared, not only of Saul, but of a band of Philistines. Unlike this fearful group of men, the mighty men of David would take on enormous odds and come out victorious over and over again.
But not yet. Those victories are still in their future. For now, they stand frightened before what seems to be a terrifying task. David inquires of the Lord again, and this time the Lord tells him not only to go, but also that He will deliver the Philistines into David’s hands. God promises the men victory.
Despite their fear, David and his men obey. They head off to Keilah, defeat the Philistines, and rescue the people. In one of those frustrating turn of events, the men of Keilah then decide that they will turn David over to Saul, who has tracked him to Keilah. So, off David and his men go again to find a new hiding place.
This story encourages me so greatly primarily because these men feared. Discovering that those who seem fearless were just as afraid as I would be gives me an incredible hope. I am not a confident person by nature. I do not like the unknown, and I do not like to take risks. I fear. So did these men. But God said go, so they went, fear and all. And God gave them victory. Not only that, He gave them the courage to accomplish many more amazing feats. He made them heroes.
All it takes to turn a child of God from a fearful person into a hero is obedience. We might not ever know we have become heroes. I can think of many figures of history who never would have imagined themselves as heroes. They just obeyed and served. They conquered fear with obedience. So can we.
I cannot conquer my own fear, but I can obey. I can rely on the promise and strength of my God. And in doing so, I can be guaranteed victory and the courage to rise up and obey again.