Run To, Run Away…

There is a time when we should run into danger because the Lord is with us and such is required to protect our families or people. There is also a time, and probably more often than not, that we should turn our faces and run away from peril, because the Lord is with us in that as well. Knowing the difference comes from the wisdom received only of God and His Spirit.

A very long time ago, long before I could walk very well or even speak, my family visited Yellowstone National Park for a camping trip and reunion with members of my father’s family where he did some of his growing up in Kelly Wyoming.

While camping in Yellowstone, so the family legend goes, a bear entered our campsite. The bear rummaged around doing whatever it wanted to do as my mother and father stood with my older brothers, sister and I strictly observing. When the bear had completed its business it began to meander out of camp.

I, the very youngest member of our party, was apparently a little indignant about this entire affair. I mean, “How dare this bear come into our camp and arouse such a scare?”

My mother and father lost ahold on me for just long enough for me to get away and chase after that bear. I was up to full speed before anybody could stop me. I suppose in my childlike innocence there was no fear in me and I was going to take care of my family.

Just as I was a couple of feet from having my hands on that bear, a small log presented itself just where it was needed and I tripped and fell just inches from peril. The bear apparently never paid me any mind at all. My parents were always very grateful, and acknowledge providence in the placement of that log.

My father, William Richard Malcolm, holds me atop the Old Faithful Geyser sign in Yellowstone National Park, with my siblings (L to R) David Boyce, Linda Lucille and William Richard (Ricky) Jr. (Photo, Circa 1966, Taken by Lucille Dorene Malcolm)

I came to thinking about this incident when I was reading the Old Testament account of David and Goliath in the seventeenth chapter of 1 Samuel. Goliath was this monstrous bear of a man, a giant Philistine, who, with the other Philistine warriors, were on the edge of the camp of Israel challenging the Israelites to a fight, their greatest warrior against Goliath. All the Israelites were afraid, including Saul their king and supposed greatest warrior.

David arrived and became immediately indignant at this giant challenging the camp of Israel. He said, “What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26).

David volunteered and frankly insisted before the king that he represent Israel in this fight against Goliath and the Philistines. He refused to take the king’s armor or sword in his defense, only taking with him his own staff, five smooth stones, and a sling.

When the Philistine, his pride wounded by the selection of this boy for a champion of Israel, saw the approach of David he shouted insults and threats of what he would do to David. David responded with courage and without fear, “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:45-47).

David Slays Goliath, by Ted Henninger

With that exchange, Goliath began to approach David fully armed to slay him. Instead of being hesitant, or cowering at the spectacle of this giant coming toward him, David hastened his step and without fear moved quickly toward Goliath. I suppose in his child of God like faith there was no fear in him and he was going to take care of his people. So “David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth” (1 Samuel 17:48-49), and Goliath was no more.

I think we all know the story as it proceeds. David becomes king of Israel, a great king. Unfortunately with maturity and experience, a loss of youthful innocence and diminished reliance on the Lord, that God given wisdom to know to hasten into danger without fear only when the Lord directs, is lost.

One eve from his kingly estate, he finds himself quite innocently arising from his bed and walking on the roof. “From the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon” (2 Samuel 11:2). I imagine this could king anointed of God, this good man that he was, catching her in his eyesight and immediately knowing the wrong of looking upon her. He probably looked away from her, thinking “this is not right, this is against the will of God.” Nevertheless, finding himself alone, he did not resist her allure. Instead of returning to his room and in prayer to God for strength, he continued to look and became quite intoxicated with temptation for lust.

Ultimately he inquired of his servants after her, learned her name was Bathsheba, a married woman, called her in unto him, and committed adultery. He destroyed his life and hers, and then upon finding he impregnated her, arranged the murder of her husband. His kingdom was never the same, and always warring. The people of Israel lost their confidence in him, and David lost his exaltation, all because in this case, when he should have hastened away from danger, he hastened instead into peril without godly inspiration and power.

To Look Upon — Elder Dallin H. Oaks warns against the dangers of pornography. Despite his great wisdom, David gave in to temptation and fell from his exaltation.

If pornography could destroy the man who in his boyhood was strong enough to defeat a giant by God’s power and name, than any of us who fall to its temptation, whether we think we can handle it or not, whether we suppose it affects us or not, are indeed imperiled by its pernicious evil. Pornography will sear the soul of the best of us, man or woman, child or aged, and distort our view of God’s great plan for happiness and family life. It is one of Satan’s most powerful tools and it has been used against king and subject, saint and sinner, politician and priest, throughout time, and has led to the distraction and destruction of billions.

Oh, that David on that eve, instead of hastening into danger, had run from it like unto Joseph who was sold into Egypt when the temptation of Potiphar’s wife was before him.

Thankfully for repentance, because of a loving Savior, we can overcome the perils in which we are placed by pornography if we act and follow the Lord, setting shame aside and seeking only to rid ourselves of its ill affects. There is help in the Lord and salvation in His love and guidance.

There is a time when we all need to hasten into danger, without fear, because God is with us. There is also a time when we should turn our faces from evil, and with no pride to protect or to be ashamed, run away from it as fast as our legs and hearts can carry us. Knowing the difference comes from the wisdom received only of God and His Spirit. The Lord will protect us as we keep our eyes and hearts firmly on Him and His divine will for us. Our consciences will be clear, our families will be safe, and we will stand with the Lord in all things.

Let us not allow our wickedness and boastings in our own strength diminish our faithfulness in Jesus Christ and His commandments, that we be left alone in our own strength and prosper not in the Lord (Helaman 4:13). Let us turn our faces away from evil, most especially the evil that is pornography, the same that has destroyed families and lives for millennia. May we have the innocence of a young child saved from a bear by providence, the faith of one who would defend his people by God’s power, and the wisdom to stay with the Lord in all that we do, acknowledging Him in all things, that we might never stray from His paths. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Daniel Malcolm is an entrepreneur, journalist, photographer, husband to Monica and father of twelve. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is a witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.