1 Samuel 24
-Saul was told as soon as he had returned from pursuing the Philistines, who had raided Israeli land (see 1 Samuel 23:27-29), that David was in the wilderness of Engedi. The king took 3,000 of his choicest men from all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the “Rocks of the Wild Goats” very near the Dead Sea in an otherwise barren wasteland. He came to the sheepfolds along the way where there was a cave. Saul had to go to the bathroom to relieve himself in modest fashion. It just so happened that the cave he went into, which there are innumerous caves and crevasses in this region, was the cave where David and his men were sitting back in the inner recesses. When David’s men saw what was transpiring, they declared to their leader, “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 had a real opportunity and choice on his hands. He arose, but did not kill the king. Instead, he cut off the edge of Saul’s discarded robe secretly. Later, he was bothered in his righteous conscience in what he had done to the king. He admitted to his men, “Far be it from me because of the LORD that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the LORD’s anointed.” David won over his men with these words and persuaded them not to rise up against Saul in order to destroy him. Meanwhile, Saul eventually left the cave as a relieved man on his way. Afterward, David went out of the cave into the open air and called after Saul with hopes of reconciliation and a sustained unity. He proclaimed in a stunning display of respect, “My lord the king!” When Saul turned and looked at him, I’m sure startled, David bowed with his face to the ground and prostrated himself. David continued, “Why do you listen to the words of men, saying, ‘Behold, David seeks to harm you?’ Behold, this day your eyes have seen that the LORD had given you today into my hand in the cave, and some said to kill you, but my eye had pity on you; and I said, ‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’s anointed.’” Then David spoke further and showed him the edge of his robe, which he had cut. He asked him to perceive that there was no ill intent on his behalf, no rebellion, no evil. He had not sinned against his king even though this man was trying to hunt him down and destroy him by lying in wait. He asked earnestly that the LORD judge between him and Saul and that the LORD alone avenge the wickedness which was being perpetrated. He recalled the ancients’ proverb, “Out of the wicked comes forth wickedness.” But he maintained for his part, “But my hand shall not be against you.” He denounced Saul’s attempt to come out against him as being as vain as killing a dead dog or pursuing a single flea. The artistic poetry of David was coming through even in these times of high stress. The LORD would be allowed to decide this fate between the upcoming, anointed, and righteous king whose heart was after God and the disobedient, double-minded man who was in power with suspicion, jealousy, and fits of rage. David acknowledged the omni-presence of Almighty God who sees and pleads the case of the just and then delivers them. As David finished his speaking, Saul said with a spirit of resignation, “Is this your voice, my son David?” Then the king lifted up his voice and wept. He admitted that David was a more righteous man than he. He conceded that David’s actions in dealing with him were full of grace; whereas, his dealings with David had been wicked. He stated that David had done good to him even though the LORD had indeed delivered his body into the upstart’s hand. He felt, at least for the moment, that David was his friend and not his enemy since he had been allowed to safely keep existing in the physical realm with no harm. He spoke blessing on David that the LORD would reward him for his kindness of the day, and he now fully was aware that this one would surely be the next king of Israel, established and secure. He then asked a favor of David. He wanted David to swear to him that he would not cut off his descendants from his father’s household, and David fully obliged as he had previously done with Saul’s son, Jonathan (1 Samuel 20:42). In the end, Saul went back to his home, humbled and ashamed but still in control. David, for his part, went back with his men to their stronghold to patiently wait for better days (1 Samuel 24:1-22).
-*Application* The ability to return good for evil an indelible characteristic of the Christian (Romans 12:21, 1 Thessalonians 5:15). How good are we at doing that honestly? It’s tough. In fact, it’s downright impossible without the righteousness of the indwelling Holy Spirit. God let David get tested in this area as preparation for being a great king in an enduring Kingdom. Think about the call on our lives today, and what possibilities the LORD might have for us as we endure persecution with all the grace and kindness God’s bestows in our time of need.
Verse to Memorize: 1 Samuel 24:6