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  • The ‘Art of Making’ series aspires to display and highlight people who go against the spirit of today’s pessimism and desperation. They dare to dream and create with zeal and imagination. Armed with passion for knowledge and emotion, they attempt to combine the precision of science with the elegance and resourcefulness of art.

  • 20 - Preacher Diary

    When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king of Israel, they mobilized all their forces to capture him. But David was told they were coming, so he went into the stronghold.

    2 Samuel 5:17, New Living Translation.


    1. Philistine Ears

    There are ears that get pained when they hear good of you. They are evil ears, like those of these Philistines. When they heard that David had been anointed king of Israel, their spleen burst and their displeasure was unprecedented. Those were the same Philistines who had housed David, apparently very accommodating of him while he was an unfortunate refugee fleeing his murderous master, Saul.  They had been ‘there for him’ until then, but they could not stand the news of his rise. We are compelled by hindsight to wonder, therefore, if, all the while, they had actually been giving care, or merely acting care?

    So long as David was dependent, they were OK to keep him, to like him, to be friends with him. But when they merely “heard” that fortune at last had smiled on the same David, they would not waste time to even confirm if it had been mere rumour; they at once mobilised “ALL their forces” against the news, against the man; they mobilized “ALL their forces”: air force, navy, land forces, amphibious forces, marine forces, witchcraft forces, diplomatic forces, seductive Delilah-forces, the forces of fake news and slander – “all their forces.”  Alas their Philistine ears; evil ears that had been secretly comfortable with the stories of his tribulations, but would hear nothing of his jubilation. They were comfortable with his stagnation, not his progression. They were ‘ok’ with him for as long as he was in misery and pain, but they wouldn’t stand his new anointing of glory and fame.  Philistines ears against which we might invoke the ‘guided’ sword of Simon Peter (John 18:10).here are ears that get pained when they hear good of you. They are evil ears, like those of these Philistines. When they heard that David had been anointed king of Israel, their spleen burst and their displeasure was unprecedented. Those were the same Philistines who had housed David, apparently very accommodating of him while he was an unfortunate refugee fleeing his murderous master, Saul.  They had been ‘there for him’ until then, but they could not stand the news of his rise. We are compelled by hindsight to wonder, therefore, if, all the while, they had actually been giving care, or merely acting care?

    If they could mobilize so much malice at the mere news of his enthronement, what worse might they have done if they had been there themselves!  What did their seers ‘see’ in the anointed man to warrant so much mobilization of ‘forces’ against that single head?


    1. When to Know your True Friends

    It is often said that true friends are known in the day of one’s misfortune; that not those who crowd around one’s banquet table in the day of plenty but those who remain committed in the day of famine are the true friends. That will not always be true, not with Philistines of the kind seen in our passage. It takes your abundance, your promotion, your sudden good fortunes, to show the true colour of those. They could be all smiles and all care as long as you are dependent, as long as you are down, as long as you are beneath; but soon as things begin to change for the better in your life, the Philistine in them will show up. They might smile ‘with concern’ in your misfortunes, but would frown with malice at your celebration. They are evil ears too pained to hear the good things of you; ears that are pleased only with news of your woes, while they strangely sustain the public show of caring about your welfare. Their hidden thoughts and their public acts are usually at concealed odds. They could say all the right things before you, but their venom could be boundless behind you. While they profess how much they care, they would never sincerely commit to helping you out of your woes about which they say that they care. Philistines.

    Some friends might be exposed by your woes; others you would know only in the day of your glory, by the pain on their faces and the inexplicable vexation in their tone. Elijah had one prominent servant before Elisha came, a servant who ‘stood with him’ while the prophet called down fire at Mount Carmel. That servant was there at Elijah’s post-Carmel prophetic prayers when the dry sky released anxious rains upon the famished land, to the pleasure of the king and the great fame of the prophet and his team (1 Kings 18:36-39, 43-46). A chapter later, however, when the same prophet was compelled to enter his wilderness, that servant did not proceed with him, and expired at the same comfortable Beersheba spot where he had stopped to let his master go. His true self was revealed only in the day of his master’s ‘wilderness’ experience (1 Kings 19:3-4). Sadly, we hear no more of that servant thereafter. His name did not appear on the transition honours list that God presented to Elijah, of persons upon whom to transfer some of the oil on his own life (1 Kings 19:15-17). That servant had been unlike Job’s speechless three friends who stayed with him through his trails and after; friends whom even God so identified, whom Job had to pray for before he himself could be blessed by God (Job 2:11; 42:10).

    On the other side of the coin, Hagar had always been a very ‘nice girl,’ a committed and dependable helper in the house while Sarah groaned in barrenness. So was her son a ‘fine boy’ while the promise of Isaac still lingered with uncertain torture over Sarah. However, when Isaac finally came, and was being celebrated, the hidden malice showed on the mocking faces. The young Ishmael’s public misbehaviour in scorning Isaac was merely the open display of the secret lessons that his mother Hagar had been teaching him in the privacy of her tent (Genesis 21:6-10; 16:3-5).  The true Ishmael became manifest in the day of festivity, as he mocked conspicuously in that day of which Sarah proclaimed, “God had made me to laugh.”  Some friends might be revealed through our pains, others through our ovation, like the Philistines. Some friends we might see more clearly through our tears, others through the filter of our laughter, like Ishmael and Hagar.


    1. Troubles Attracted by the Anointing

    Promotion does not always bring rest; sometimes it attracts wars. Soon as God spoke of Jesus, publicly declaring Him as the beloved Son; soon as the Holy Spirit openly endorsed Him by descending on Him in the form of a dove, Satan showed up (Luke 4:1). The fresh anointing seemed to have attracted the subsequent wilderness with its recurrent temptations. Favour sometimes brings with it the malice of those who detest the flavour of the favour. Those who seek favour should therefore also be prepared for some of the ‘fringe benefits’ that sometimes come with good fortune. When David was anointed king was when the Philistines mobilized against him. We may ask, Should the anointing attract wars? If that anointing had been of God, why should it bring battles instead of blessings? Ask David.

    There are battles that arise simply because of the anointing on one’s head. The Philistines might not have bothered if the news was that David had bought a new chariot, or married another wife; but “When the Philistines heard that David had been ANOINTED…” trouble.  Empty heads need no helmet; but anointed heads do, because the oil they carry naturally attracts Philistine missiles (Psalm 140:7; Isaiah 59:17; Ephesians 6:17). The battle was not against David’s head, it was against the oil on the head. If you worry therefore why Philistines seem so often mobilized against you, it could be that they have seen upon you something that you have not yet seen upon yourself: the anointing.


    1. Parties on the Anointing

    When David was anointed, it stirred the enemies, forcing him to go “into the stronghold.”  When Jesus was anointed, the Spirit led Him into the wilderness where He fasted forty days and forty nights: a kind of stronghold. In my generation, however, we celebrate the anointing differently, with feasts and fanfare. We throw parties to which we invite friends and enemies, and we note with bitterness those who did not come to ‘celebrate with us.’

    When that happens, I often wonder if it was the same anointing that David received, which drove him into a stronghold; and which Jesus also received and was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Luke 4:1). Such parties on the anointing merely expose how we see the ‘call of God,’ as a ‘chieftaincy title,’ as an achievement, as an earned designation of honour (like a university or other professional or honorary degree) rather than as an enlistment to death in the frontlines of a most fierce battle between Light and Darkness. Even Saul was told that the anointing he had received would guide him into contact with a company of prophets the encounter with whom was going to transform him into another man (1 Samuel 10:5-6). When we party for being anointed, we betray a shallow understanding of the oil that had come upon the head, or we otherwise could be announcing inadvertently that the anointing had merely been a ceremony of empty oil upon an empty head.

    From The Preacher’s diary,

    September 6, 2019.

  • 5. When David was Told…

    David was “told” of the plot of the Philistines, and he acted. The same David to whom God had often spoken, did not wait to hear the present caution for himself ‘from the Lord,’ before he should take precaution. In my days, David might have said, “I do not work on rumours. God speaks to personally to me. Where was I when God bypassed me your ‘Papa’ and General Overseer, to talk to you, a mere soldier, about matters of my own personal destiny?  Well, when I have heard from God on this matter, I shall know what to do.”

    If David had been as proud as that, like some ‘highly anointed’ folk in my generation, he might have been wasted before day break.   Sometimes, God might speak in our ears; some other times, however, He might choose to speak through the lips of those who have our ears, as when He chose to call the young Samuel in the respected and familiar ‘voice of Eli’ his boss (1 Samuel 3:3-10).

    What did David do when he was told? He took the case to God. He didn’t wait to die. He was not too sentimental to believe ‘such nonsense’ about the ‘good people’ with whom he had spent the good part of his last ten years. According to Jesus, “Wisdom is justified of all her children” (Luke 7:35).

    6. Never the Winning Goal

    The anointing of which 2 Samuel 5:17 speaks was the third and final in the series that David received (1 Samuel 16:12-13; 2 Samuel 2:4). While the Philistines housed David, did they never know that oil had been poured on his heard? They knew, but that ‘level’ of oil was not what they were concerned about. The ‘big one’ was what they were out to never see. They seemed not to have bothered about the preliminary anointings, so far as those were not The Anointing to put David on the throne; they seemed not to have bothered so long as it was not The Anointing to place him where Destiny had marked for his life. In other words, the fact that somebody supported you yesterday does not mean that they will support you the day after; that they helped you to the first floor does not necessarily mean their readiness to see you up to the last floor; that they smiled at your first degree might not suggest that they are prepared to see you get a second degree. So long as David had a title without a throne, the Philistines were content to keep him; so long as he had been ‘anointed’ but with no territory to show for all the oil on his wet head, there was no war. They were not against his title, but his mantle; they were not against the man, but his mandate. If he put a thousand balls into the net, it was not going to be much of an issue, so long as he never scored that winning goal to give him a trophy in life.

    7. Relationship Phases

    We may speak on the one hand of the ‘Philistine’ malice that pretends to care so much, and could even take you up to a first floor, whereas it secretly schemes to cast you altogether down or otherwise frustrate your further climb. On the other hand, however, is the further truth that not everybody has been ordained by God to always be by you; not every relationship is for life. Some would be helpers only for a season. When their time is up, they will be gone, and should be released to go. To force these to continue their charity beyond their dispensation is to both exploit them and abuse the relationship. These are not ‘evil ears’ vexed by your glad tidings; they are merely helpers who have completed their phase in your life and should be gladly released, no matter how hard the rest of the path might seem without them.

    No matter how much you like a teacher, when you have completed your term, you have to leave their class. Some people will be friends for life, others only for a mile. Seek the wisdom to know each category. Not everybody who starts the journey with you from the same bus stop or airport will end the journey with you. Destinations are not the same for all co-travellers. We might all have the same take-off point, but not the same final stop. That the Philistines had been there for David in his wilderness phase did not mean that they were destined to escort him also to the throne; that they had been part of his past did not automatically make them part of his future. Relationship phases.

    In 1 Samuel 10:1-6, Prophet Samuel notified the newly anointed Saul that God had prepared three consecutive contacts and helpers in his path. The prophet was careful to explain that Saul was not to tie any of those benefactors to his apron and force them along his private route, to continue their charities. Samuel made it very clear, “THEN shalt thou go on forward from thence, and thou shalt come to the plain of Tabor, and there shall meet thee three men going up to God to Bethel” (1 Samuel 10:3). The newly anointed Saul was to “go on forward”; to go “from thence,” and then “meet” his next contacts – for that next phase of his life. The previous location was prophecy-identified; it was God-specified, but which did not mean that he was to remain and die there. That had been a place of spectacular blessings, but not the place for all the blessings meant for his life. “Go on forward from thence … and … meet thee three men ….”

    If you don’t leave some previous place, you cannot get to the future place of further blessings in the ‘plain of Tabor.’ Everybody leaves somewhere to get to somewhere else. To get to London from Lisbon, you have to leave Lisbon. To connect Accra from Cairo, you have to disconnect from Cairo. If you don’t leave one place, you cannot get to the other. Similarly, if you do not disconnect from some people, you might never meet the other people whom Providence has assigned to benefit you at the further stops of life. And because you never left, you might never know whom you never met, and have forever missed. Some people you will never meet until you have left others (Genesis 13:14a). All spirits don’t agree; all currents do not flow in the same direction. Even in marriage, there is no cleaving without leaving, sad as leaving might sometimes feel (Mark 10:7).

    8. Battles without Sentiments

    Accept all help that God brings your way, but be discerning of every moment. If it means accepting the challenge to go to war today against those who yesterday seemed to have housed you, you might have to do it. Those Philistines were outspokenly committed to capturing David. The intent was so obvious that even the blind and stupid did not need to be convinced about it. The implications were multiple and worrisome. Those Philistines were probably going to treat David the way they had treated one of David’s ancestors, Samson the Strongman, whom they captured and blinded; an inflicted terminal blindness from which he was never to recover (Judges 16: 20-21). No sentiments; David had to go out against them after enquiring from God. He had to boldly confront them before they blinded him like Samson and shaved the fresh oil off his tender head.

    God used the Egyptians to preserve Moses in his tender days. When the time came, however, without sentiments, he called down plagues upon the same patrons of his past. Sometimes God can use the very enemy to preserve you, but that does not mean making perpetual peace with that enemy. God used the Philistines to preserve David in his vulnerable days as he sought refuge from Saul. That term had ended. David had become a man. He was not to make permanent friends with temporary acquaintances; he was not to sign a bond with whom he should destroy. God had to make the Philistines themselves to provoke the war in which they would be routed. If David had been the one who initiated the war, it might have been widely interpreted unpleasantly as ingratitude. God knows how to vindicate His own. May the enemy start the war that will destroy them and vindicate you. Amen.

    19 So David asked the Lord, "Should I go out to fight the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?"

    The Lord replied to David, "Yes, go ahead. I will certainly hand them over to you."

    20 So David went to Baal-perazim and defeated the Philistines there… (2 Samuel 5:19-20, New Living Translation).

    Amen.“Go ahead … and [defeat] the Philistines there.” Some battles won’t be fought in the bedroom, but out there where the Philistines are; and you do not defeat whom you do not engage. “So David went to Baal-perazim and defeated the Philistines there…” Amen.

    From The Preacher’s diary,

    September 6, 2019.


    Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.(Joel 3:10).

  • Singular or Plural?

    When God overthrew Pharaoh and his hosts in the Red Sea, Miriam led Israel in a worship.  Her song was a revelation.  Many times, we have sung her lyrics and preached her revelation, but lately I have begun to see another side to that revelation.  We, or I should say, I, have often sung her song in the plural, but I realise more strongly now that it was in the singular.