Text: 1 Samuel 24:1-7
(1 Samuel 24:6) “And he said unto his men, The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the LORD’S anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.”
Here he was again…David found himself – a former shepherd boy, who had single-handedly slain a bear and a lion (1 Sam. 17:34-36); and had later slain the Philistine giant Goliath (1 Sam. 17:50); and had been anointed as the king of Israel (1 Sam. 16:11-13); and had the testimony: “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Sam. 21:11) – being known as a great man of war. Yet, here he was hiding in a cave, running for his life from King Saul…again.
The Bible says that “David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul” (1 Sam. 18:30). And yet, for all his wise behavior, David had fallen out of favor with Saul. So much so, that their relationship was marked by David’s constant flights and Saul’s constant pursuits. What a life for this former shepherd boy! Living as a fugitive for one’s crimes would be understood; but David was innocent – he was not even accused of wrong-doing. Saul just wanted to kill David out of jealousy.
So here David is, hiding in a cave; and in walks Saul, all by himself. Of course, there is a point of levity in this scene: Saul went to use the cave as a restroom to relieve himself, and David sneaked up on him, during the act, to cut off a piece of Saul’s robe. After this, “David’s heart smote him” for his deed. So much that David was compelled to reveal himself to Saul, who took the incident as a warning before returning home. At this point, the reader is left with the question: Why didn’t David just kill Saul?
In many ways, this would have been a logical solution to David’s problems. At the death of Saul, all Saul’s men would have either returned to their own homes in flight, or turned to follow David in recognition of his anointing as king of Israel. David’s own men even urged him to kill Saul since this would have ended their own flight. Their reasoning made perfect sense: the Lord had obviously delivered David’s foe into his hand, and had even foretold this day (1 Sam. 24:4). So why not just kill Saul?
David’s answer to this question is theologically important: “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord” (1 Sam. 24:6). David understood that God is Sovereign in all things, and that He would deliver up the kingdom according to the Word he had spoken to David. David was content to patiently endure unjust persecution as he awaited the fulfillment of God’s promise on his life.
But David also understood the anointing of God meant that God had put his seal on an individual. God’s hand was on Saul, as David well knew, and such an offense against one of God’s anointed would be intolerable (Ps. 105:15); even though David had also been anointed to sit upon the same throne that was then being occupied by Saul. In David’s mind, it was better to let God take care of his own business than to involve himself, as we see in yet another confrontation between the two kings:
“Destroy him not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless? David said furthermore, As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and perish.” (1 Sam. 26:9-10)
Why not just kill Saul? Because God’s hand was on him; and God will take care of him in His own good timing. This was the confidence that David had as he patiently waited on God to fulfill His Word. To move at the behest of his well-meaning soldiers would have placed David in a position of self-reliance as he acted outside of God’s Plan.
This is the lesson we learn from David’s experience. There are times in all our lives when we are faced with great opposition, trials, or difficulties. Through His Word, God has given us the assurance that even the hardships we endure are part of His Sovereign Plan (Rom. 8:28). Yet, it may also be that we find it possible to act in our own strength to overcome the situation.
Like David, let us learn to trust the Lord to lead us, so that we will move at His direction, and experience the blessedness of His hand on our life.