Scrambled Thoughts and Where They Take Us

The One Year Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), April 18

Beware of the thoughts that you entertain. It won’t be long before you fulfill them.

UnknownDavid has been on the run from Saul for over a decade. He still has about two years to go (though he is unaware that the end of running is in sight) before the tribe of Judah crowns him king. Fearful, negative, and suspicious thoughts have a way of laying their eggs in our minds until they hatch. That’s what happens with David, “And David said in his heart, ‘Now I shall perish someday by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me that that I should speedily escape to the land of the Philistines; and Saul will despair of me, to seek me anymore in any part of Israel. So I shall escape out of his hand’” (1 Sam. 27:1, emphasis added).

David combines two thoughts, one true and the other false. True—living among the Philistines will put David out of Saul’s reach. False—Saul has the ability to kill him. To do so would prevent the fulfillment of God’s promise to David. And God always keeps His promises!

Scrambled thoughts occur frequently. Prayer sorts them out.

David doesn’t pray about his decision. He allows his fearful and wrong thinking to lead him instead. Living among the Philistines places David out of Saul’s reach, true. It might be God’s will for David and his men to live temporarily among the Philistines, true. But, can Saul eventually kill him? Absolutely false!

Mixed thinking occurs frequently as opportunities and challenges provoke anxiety and shape our thinking. Paul instructs Christ-followers to tend to their thinking with prayer: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be make known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Reading about David’s spiritual formation as he runs from King Saul reveals a number of truths about those who walk with God, but entertain scrambled thoughts:

  • God takes those to whom He makes promises and teaches them how to walk with Him by faith. He uses their “ups and downs” of faith development to demonstrate His faithfulness―to them and to us. Not once do we see God scolding David during these learning years.
  • Both prayer and worship provide filters through which every thought must be strained. The various psalms record David’s mental and spiritual health throughout his life. Most of the time David filters his thoughts through the majesty and faithfulness of God.

Questions from today’s reading (1 Samuel 26:1-29:11; 1 Chronicles 12:1-7, 19; Psalm 56):

  • What does King Saul recognize about David when David turns down the opportunity to take his life? What does David’s answer to Saul reveal about his view of God’s promise to him regarding becoming king?
  • What does the situation that follows Saul’s returning from chasing David reveal about how circumstances often test faith?
  • Review Leviticus 19:4; 20:6; Deuteronomy 18:9-14. What do Saul’s actions when faced by the Philistine army reveal about his spiritual state?
  • How does the LORD use David’s rejection by the Philistines to protect David? What does this reveal about God?
  • What does Psalm 56 reveal about David’s mental and spiritual state?