Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 2 2019 - 1 Samuel 24 – David spares Saul's life

Saul has dealt with the latest skirmish with the Philistines and has returned to his pursuit of David, still intent on killing him. David and his men, having seen Saul and his army approaching, were hiding in what must have been a deep and dark cave. Imagine their surprise when Saul entered the cave to relieve himself. David's soldiers saw this as the providential delivery of Saul into their hands and urged David to kill his "enemy". But David refused. Instead he cut off the corner of the king's robe which Saul must have cast aside while he did what he needed to do.

This may have seemed a fairly harmless action but it leaves David conscience-stricken. Although Saul was intent on killing David, David was determined to do Saul no harm for he knew that he was still "the anointed of the Lord". God had appointed Saul to be king over Israel and God would have to remove him before David could succeed to the kingdom.

As Saul left the cave to re-join his men, David called to him from the cave's entrance addressing him as "My lord the king." David showed Saul the corner of his robe that he had cut off as proof that he could easily have killed Saul but had chosen to do him no harm. David tells Saul that this is proof that those who have stirred up his hatred by saying "David is bent on harming you" have not been telling the truth.

This was a very brave act on David's part. Saul was accompanied by 3,000 armed young men and could easily have destroyed David with his much smaller band of followers. But his action seems to have convicted Saul, at least for the moment, that his pursuit of David was wrong. He exclaims, "You are more righteous than I… You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly" (v. 17). Saul even says, "May the Lord reward you well for the way you treated me today. I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands" (vv. 19-20). His only request is that when David does become king he will not seek revenge on any of Saul's remaining family. This, David is happy to promise on oath.

So Saul returns to his palace. But it would seem that David is still unsure of his own safety for he and his men return to their stronghold in the Desert of En Gedi.

David knows that God has chosen him to be king of Israel, but he will not seize the kingdom by force. He is content to wait on the Lord's timing, confident that the Lord will be faithful to his promises and will protect David from harm in the meantime.

When others treat us unjustly, how do we respond? Do we look for an opportunity to get even or do we trust God and follow the way of the Lord Jesus Christ? How good are we at waiting, waiting on the Lord for him to act for us in his own good time? It is not always easy to follow Christ in the path of trusting obedience.

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

  “He committed no sin,
   and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:21-23)

Think what it means that when Jesus refused to retaliate when he was unjustly treated he left us an example that we should follow in his steps.

Father God, may the mind of Christ my Saviour dwell in me from day to day, by his love and power controlling all I do and say.

Peter Misselbrook