1 Samuel 21: Backsliding


  • The paths of backsliding
  • The lessons of faith


The Christian faces two dangers, one of ease and one of difficulty. We face both trials and temptations. This being the case we face two different kinds of backsliding. We can backslide in the face of temptation or we can backslide in the face of trials. There is the backsliding when faced with a tempting situation we act sinfully and follow our tempted sinful desires. But then there is the backslide not in pursuing temptation but in responding to trial, it is not so much a case of pursuing sinful desires but a lack of faith in the heart which causes us to lose our confidence in God. When we are fixed on pleasure, God can be blocked out by pleasure and we can forget the lies of fleeting pleasure and believe that they can satisfy, but when the fog clears we remember that God is good and sin is bad. Trials can have a very different effect; they more commonly affect your faith and leave your view of God’s goodness in tatters. When pursuing pleasure we crash with a mouth full of bitterness and ash as the sin that promised satisfaction leaves its mark, but it can often confirm to us God is good and sin is bad. But trial, it can abuse us in such a way that we are left with only question and doubts. As Ecc. 7:7 puts it, ‘Surely oppression drives the wise into madness.’ This might be why we need difficulties more, so that we can learn the harder lessons of faith.

It is this sort of backsliding that David indulges in this chapter, faced with trial he loses sight of God, is dominated by fear and it escalates into madness. A backslide in faith in the face of trial goes from bad to worse. But God rescues David and so we will look firstly at the path of backsliding and we will be looking at the psalms David wrote at the end of chapter 21 to see what he learnt from this chapter in his life.