The oasis of Engedi in Israel was known as a hiding place of refuge for young David and his men as he ran for his life from King Saul (1 Samuel 23:29). Although David had already been anointed as King over Israel by the prophet Samuel, he was considered a fugitive by King Saul and His men. It was in a cave in Engedi that David chose in his words, “not to harm the Lord’s anointed” even though he had the opportunity to kill the man who was relentlessly pursuing him for years.
Ultimately, Engedi was the place where David passed a crucial test in his journey toward leading Israel: he refused to murder King Saul and therefore chose not to take his destiny into His own hands. The reason why God hears the cries that come from Engedi is because the cries from that place are ones that are ultimately surrendered to the Father’s will. David even apparently had a prophetic word from the Lord that Saul would be delivered into his hands as his men reminded him, “ Behold, this IS the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold; I am about to give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.” David was so in tune with the spirit of God in Engedi that he recognized that the prophetic word he received was not so that he could fulfill it by his own hands, but the prophetic word was only meant to test the deepest motives and desires of His heart! Would he take his destiny into his own hands or allow the Lord to further refine and test His heart?
The Seven Signs That Church Leaders Have Been to Engedi:
1. They Consistently Refuse the Temptation to Self-Promote (1 Samuel 24: 17)
“ And he said to David, ‘You are more righteous than I; for you have dealt well with me, while I have dealt wickedly with you.”
The very fact that David chose not to take the life of Saul when he was delivered into his hands at Engedi should speak volumes to church leaders everywhere. David recognized that it was only God himself who could promote him, not the works of his own hands. Leaders that have been to Engedi do not use ministry to self-promote themselves, rather they allow the Spirit of God to promote Christ within them. The problem with self-promotion is that it can only be maintained through striving, something David was not willing to do. David recognized that it was God Himself who would establish his kingship, and it would be God Himself who would sustain his kingship.
2. They Recognize That Only God Can Vindicate Them ( 1 Samuel 24:10-12)
“Now, my father, see! Indeed, see the edge of your robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the edge of your robe and did not kill you, know and perceive that there is no evil or rebellion in my hands, and I have not sinned against you, though you are lying in wait for my life to take it.”
It was young David who recognized that only God Himself could clear his name. Taking the life of King Saul would not do it, even though David would have been justified in killing Saul amongst the people. Leaders that have been to Engedi allow the Father to be their defender. They do not waste time trying to clear their name or ministry. These leaders are not driven by the praise of men, but rather by the desire to see God get glory in all situations and at all times.
3. They Build Monuments to their Nothingness (I Samuel 24: 14)
“After whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom are you pursuing? A dead dog, a single flea”
Leaders that have been to Engedi look for opportunities to humble themselves in the midst of difficult circumstances. Wouldn’t it have been so easy for young David to grab King Saul in that cave and remind him before he killed him of how Samuel the prophet had anointed David king over Israel years before? No, David considered himself a dead dog and a single flea that King Saul was pursuing him. Those that lead and have been to Engedi do not take credit for their success and confess with Paul the Apostle, “What do I possess that I myself have not received?” (1 Corinthians 4:7)
4. They Smell Like Sheep ( I Samuel 24:22)
“And Saul went to his home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.”
David was just a simple shepherd boy before Samuel anointed his head with oil and proclaimed him King over Israel. Although it would be many years before David took the throne, a shepherds heart was being developed inside of him from a very young age. David knew the importance of shepherding from within the flock, so it was natural that when he began to be entrusted with a position of leadership, that he knew how to lead from within his own company of men. Leaders that have been to Engedi smell like sheep. They do not constantly separate themselves from those that they serve. These leaders are accessible, and their lives are open books to all and any that ask. Leaders that have been to Engedi do not treat people like sheep because they themselves know that they are sheep in need of the Good Shepherd.
5. They are Wilderness Trained (1 Samuel 24:8)
“..David bowed with his face to the ground and prostrated himself toward Saul.”
Here was young David, bowing down before the very man that was trying to kill him! This total act of humility and brokenness was a sheer sign that David was submitted to being wilderness trained.Leaders that have been to Engedi understand the difference between the “anointing” and the season of “appointing.” They recognize that a “calling” is not a “commissioning.” The season of Engedi is evident in the lives of leaders that have submitted to the process of consecration. David knew the value of being wilderness trained and also realized the destruction that would come if he refused to submit to it. Leaders that have been to Engedi would rather limp into heaven than walk straight into hell.
6. They Strengthen and Encourage Themselves in the Lord (1 Samuel 30:6)
“But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”
The day will come in every church leaders life where there will be no encouragement, no one to offer comfort in some of the greatest times of need. Here David was at Ziklag, absolutely distraught over the Amalekites raiding the Negev where they captured he and his men’s families. His own men even began talking of stoning him. David had an important decision to make as a leader. He could either give in to his own fears and give up, or he could turn to the Lord His God and strengthen Himself in who he knew God to be. It was in the wilderness of Engedi that David learned what it meant to be wholeheartedly abandoned to the Lord. Ziklag was simply another test. Leaders that have been to Engedi know how to encourage themselves in the Lord. It is what separates them from the lukewarm. Leaders that have been to Engedi carry hearts that have been measured by the praise given to them by men. In less than 24 hours from this moment in Ziklag, David would be crowned King over Israel, as Saul and his sons would fall at Mt. Gilboa. Perhaps David’s ability to strengthen and encourage himself in the Lord was the final test before God Himself promoted him as King.
7. They Walk in Absolute Obedience (1 Samuel 30:17)
“And David slaughtered them from the twilight until the evening of the next day; and not a man of them escaped…”
When King Saul was given the assignment to wipe out the Amalekites and everything they possessed, he made a choice to spare their King Agag and leave the choicest of the spoils for Himself and His men. When David pursued the Amalekites, he slaughtered every last one that he and his men could get to.Leaders that have been to Engedi complete the assignments that God has given them without delay. They understand that partial obedience is no obedience at all. David was tested in Engedi as to whether he would take matters into his own hands by killing Saul, which he refused because he was not released to do so. After inquiring of the Lord at Ziklag, he was released to pursue the Amalekites and slaughter them. Leaders that have been to Engedi know both when to enter into battle in obedience and when to leave the battle to the Lord in obedience.
The Unknown Dreamer,