"5 And the Philistines mustered to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen and troops like the sand on the seashore in multitude. They came up and encamped in Michmash, to the east of Beth-aven. 6 When the men of Israel saw that they were in trouble (for the people were hard pressed), the people hid themselves in caves and in holes and in rocks and in tombs and in cisterns, 7 and some Hebrews crossed the fords of the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul was still at Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling." - 1 Samuel 13:5-7
We're professional hiders. Ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the garden and hid from Him, we've been hiding ever since. If we're not hiding from God, we're hiding from our lives, our enemies and our temptations. Either way, we’re hiding.
Why do we hide? Israel wanted a king like other nations to rule and lead them more than they wanted God. God granted Israel the king they asked for - Saul. Then in come the pesky Philistines. Like the United States putting every military machine, weapon, person and resource they have into one battle, the Philistines brought out their full military array and were breathing down the necks of the Israelites. Saul was nowhere to be found. Despite how intimidating it may have been, the size of the Philistine army wasn't the problem. The Israelites problem was in their heart, they didn't trust God. In their eyes, the enemy was bigger than God. Our hearts today are the same now as they used to be then. Insecurity, not knowing what to do, thinking something is more than it really is, feeling unequipped or incapable, whatever the reason is, it all amounts to a lack of trust in God. When God is small to us, we hide, and we hide in the wrong places.
Where do we go to hide? For the Israelites, the heat was on and they ran and hid. When trial, temptation, struggle or the enemy are breathing down our necks, our blood pressure rises and anxiety kicks in. Our caves, holes, rocks, tombs and cisterns, the places and things we go for refuge, can be many things like sex, substances, food, beauty, a job, busyness, social media, a false sense of self-confidence, or unhealthy need for approval and affirmation from others. All of these places are terrible hiding places because they don't protect us or save us, they cover our problem and only oppress us more.
Some Israelites even left the Promised Land entirely, going back across the Jordan River into Gad and Gilead. They didn't have to do that. They could trust God in the land He called them to. Everything Israel would ever need - peace and security - was in Canaan if they trusted God. When the heat is on, if we're not staying right where we are and hiding in the wrong place, then we're going back to and hiding in a place in life that God has moved us on from, a place we don't belong anymore. The old place may seem more comfortable than the turbulence you're experiencing now, but it's not where you're supposed to be because it's not where you're called. Hiding from your present by living in your past won't give you the future God has for you.
Shortly after I began following Jesus in 2008, I got laid off from my dream job and had to settle for a job in Savannah, GA that I didn't like at all. I was there for a year, and around the one-year mark there was a lot of staff drama, petty games, and subtle attacks on me from people. My previous employer was hiring again and I went back to my old job. In hindsight, I didn't do the right thing. I should not have been back at my old job. I was seeking refuge in that job. God's place for me wasn't there anymore. I continued worshipping God, I trusted Him (albeit imperfectly), and He was faithful as He put me back on track by bringing me back to Savannah eight months later for another job!
Where should we hide? We’ll either hide anywhere we can that is convenient and instantly gratifying, or we can hide in the one place where we will find true salvation, providence, protection, and eternal gratification - the Lord Jesus Christ. Israel's desire for an earthly king revealed their hearts and how distant they were from God. Saul was an untrustworthy king in stark contrast to the One True Trustworthy King to come - Jesus Christ. Put yourself in the Israelites shoes, facing troops like the sand of the sea shore, if we're honest it would be hard to trust God. But God doesn't want us to put ourselves in THEIR shoes, He wants us to know Him and understand HIS shoes. In THEIR shoes, our struggle, enemy or temptation will look much bigger than it really is. But if we know Him, trust Him, and understand HIS shoes, we’ll see the enemy for what it really is - nothing. Our enemies and temptations are no match for the Creator of heaven and earth. We can know Him and understand Him by looking at Jesus. We can have access to God Himself by faith in His Son Jesus Christ and his Gospel. The heat was on Jesus, but he never hid from it, right up to the cross. He hid in the loving arms of The Father even in the most dreadful circumstances on the cross. Our greatest enemy is death itself. As followers of Jesus we are called to trust him, not ourselves or some other “king” we establish in our lives. If we fight in our own strength, we lose. But if we hide in the strength of King Jesus who on the cross defeated the enemy and rendered sin powerless, we win. Sex, substances, food, beauty, a job, busyness, social media, our false sense of self-confidence, and approval and affirmation from others will never keep us like Jesus will. Following Jesus in his refuge is better than hiding comfortable on our own and in a place we shouldn't be.
Pray these Psalms...
Keep me as the apple of your eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings (Psalm 17:8). For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock (Psalm 27:5). You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man; You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues (Psalm 31:20). You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance (Psalm 32:7). Hide me from the secret counsel of evildoers, from the tumult of those who do iniquity (Psalm 64:2). You are my hiding place and my shield; I wait for Your word (Psalm 119:114).