Is it always wrong to run?

Photo by Mary Taylor on

It’s a classic sermon challenge “What are you running away from?” It’s a good challenge. Often people are on the run. Shame, guilt and fear are the primary causes of running. We are afraid that our shame and guilt will be exposed, we are afraid of enemies, of mocking, of abuse.

But, I remember being struck by the question “Is it always wrong to run?” a couple of years back looking at 2 Samuel 16-17. David has fled from Absalom. He is on the run. However, notice two things. First all, in 2 Samuel 15:13-14, we are told why David flees Jerusalem.[1]

“13 A messenger soon arrived in Jerusalem to tell David, “All Israel has joined Absalom in a conspiracy against you!”

14 “Then we must flee at once, or it will be too late!” David urged his men. “Hurry! If we get out of the city before Absalom arrives, both we and the city of Jerusalem will be spared from disaster.”

David’s aim in fleeing is to protect lives and to preserve the city from the desolation that a siege will cause.

Secondly, in 2 Samuel 17: 1-14, Absalom’s advisors are aware that David on the run will be able to refresh and re-strengthen before a fight Ahithophel aims to prevent this, Hushai to enable it.

Here’s a further clue. What does Jesus tell the disciples to do when they see the enemy army encamp around Jerusalem? The answer is that he tells them to flee.[2]

Sometimes there is wisdom in fleeing. Sometimes it is right to pick your battles. I don’t think this is cowardice. There always comes a point when we must stand up and be counted but sometimes God gives us space to escape, step back, wait and be strengthened.


It is wise for someone in an abusive relationship to leave the house and get to a place where they can be physically kept safe.

Whilst many believers chose to stay in countries where they are persecuted for the Gospel, I do not think this makes it wrong for others to flee persecution and seek asylum

There are issues you are aware of that will need dealing with at work, or even within the church but it may not be necessary to always confront everything immediately.

The time comes when David does have to face Absalom.  We cannot run for ever but sometimes there is grace and mercy in the opportunity to flee for a period of time.

[1] The preacher raised the question “What do you run from?” but was very careful not to say that running was always wrong.

[2] See Mark 13:14.

%d bloggers like this: