1 & 2 Samuel: Day 16

David Spares Saul

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Today's Text: 1 Samuel 23:1-29, 1 Samuel 24:1-22, Psalm 54:1-7, John 19:10-11

Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 23:1-29, 1 Samuel 24:1-22, Psalm 54:1-7, John 19:10-11

When righteous young David has the chance to take out paranoid, egotistical, narcissistic Saul twice and doesn’t do it, part of me wants to throw my hands up in frustration. That’s not how the story should go! The hero is supposed to seize his opportunity to conquer his enemy, then ride off into the sunset as the credits roll.

Instead, David’s anti-climactic showdown with Saul reminds us who the real Hero is. In 1 Samuel 24, David and a small army of followers are on the run. Saul and an army of 3,000 soldiers are hunting David with the goal to kill him.  

In an ironic, almost comical twist, the paranoid king decides to relieve himself in the very cave where David and his men were hiding. If I’d been in David’s squad, I would’ve joined their rallying cry.

“Look, this is the day the Lᴏʀᴅ told you about: ‘I will hand your enemy over to you so you can do to him whatever you desire’” (1 Samuel 24:4).

Take your shot! He’s got it coming! Eliminate the threat! Instead, David sneaks up behind his archenemy and cuts off the corner of his robe.

Wait. What?

David had already been anointed king, and clearly, Saul was no good for God’s people—his thirst for David’s blood was insatiable. So why then, does David opt to take a piece of Saul’s robe, as opposed to a piece of the man himself?

How could David be so bridled in the face of an enemy so bent on his destruction? It wasn’t that David didn’t crave relief from his enemy. He hadn’t assumed a position of defeat. He knew the battle ultimately belonged to the Lord.

At the mouth of the cave, David said these words to Saul:

“May the Lᴏʀᴅ judge between me and you, and may the Lᴏʀᴅ take vengeance on you for me, but my hand will never be against you” (1 Samuel 24:12).

We don’t have to seek revenge or take out our enemies. David’s defender is our defender. When we find ourselves face to face with a threat, our Father’s advice is to respond with kindness and let Him do what He will (Proverbs 25:21-22).

David’s restraint helps us grasp the big picture. If we widen the lens, we can see that the Lord has disarmed our ultimate enemy. God alone is the ultimate Authority and Judge in this world and the world to come (John 19:10-11).

So we don’t have to head into every fight with fists clenched. We don’t have to be the judge and jury in our search for justice. David’s defender is fighting for us. He is our helper, the sustainer of our lives, and our rescuer in every situation (Psalm 54:4,7). The battle belongs to the Lord!

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Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

  • Kristen Clegs

    What always pierces me from this passage is David’s choice to wait on God. God had promised that he would be king, he was already anointed king, and he had just acted as a king should in defending Keilah when Saul was too distracted with tracking him down. He could have helped along the fulfillment of God’s promise, could have ensured his own security.
    Contrast to Abraham. God made promises to Abraham too: offspring as the sand of the sea – a son. Years passed and save got tired of waiting for God to fulfill His promise. He saw an opportunity to help things along and took it. But by doing so, he stepped outside God’s parameters for marriage and morality, he chose not to wait on the Lord, and he marred God’s perfect plan.
    What a good warning to me to check my motives and my course, to not manage situations in my own wisdom, and, like David, stand back and say: “The battle is the Lord’s.”

  • Timely. Timely. Timely. This devotional was an answer to my prayers. I’m so happy God delayed my reading because this is just the morning I needed this most. Thank you, SRT and all my sisters in the community.

  • Praise God that he is our defender. Even so, it’s difficult reading this in light of the current events in America surrounding the “alt-right” movement and the doctrine they are proclaiming. I’m wrestling with how Christians can stand with the oppressed today? What does it look like for Jesus followers to “cut off the corner of the robe” trusting that God has won the ultimate battle? How do we be David’s in the presence of a life-threatening Saul without passively standing by?

    • Littleamore

      It’s not the object that is the battle (Saul/alt-right)… it’s how we act upon perception. The only reality is that by which God has already been victorious over. I believe God created us to care for what we can control on this earth. It’s our choice then to believe. What we believe and focus on is our choice. But he will always draw our attention back to him. He gave us each a fingerprint, where we place it and how we spend our energy with the life he’s given us is our blessing. Because nothing exists, no action can come without him coming first in our battles. So ask yourself does alt-right a reality, or is it the perception that someone is trying to impose on me. And if alt-right is not the battle what is. Maybe it’s succumbing to labels, not working on or developing the community in front of us. People only put labels on things they don’t understand because separating themselves and isolating themselves is easier than having to accept other personalities and struggles. At the end of the day what you read is just my perception. You decide what speaks to you and what you consume. God defines your worth and where you’re home remains.

    • Lana

      I think I understand what Littleamore is saying here and I too believe much of our reality is what we choose to focus on. With that said, when Jesus saw a crowd of people looking to stone a woman for her sins, he did not ignore it. He actively stood up for the woman. He reminded the crowd of her humanity. He reminded them of their own individual humanity. Jesus was not a pacifist. Jesus fought with love. This is how you fight injustice. David did it when he approached Saul from the cave and Jesus did it all his life. You are kindly reminding people of your own humanity and the humanity of others. You are not judging them. You are reminding them with firm love asking for God’s guidance and a miracle as you speak.

  • https://youtu.be/ghhoNOT6xi4 (Sermon of The Winning Hand)

  • It’s amazing that God woke me up this morning to his word and I read this passage about David sparing Saul. I later then opened She Reads Truth app and found today was the same assigned passage to read. Wow. I suppose I really needed to get this message in my heart today. We all are Gods anointed and it’s important that we don’t take our angry out on them and allow God to bring the ultimate correction. We are called to live most of all. Yes, there are times we will share our feelings or bring correction from Gods word but we are not to attack our brother and sister in Christ, if even if they are our family member or spouse.

  • Karen From Virginia

    It’s a life long battle of trust to realize that God is the God who sees. He is faithful and merciful. So many things I’ve tried to make happen or were in angst over and all along the Lord was wanting me to rest in Him, His timing, His ways.
    Even this week as I walk through grief, I’m seeing His sovereignty that this is the time. This is not random. Learning to rest in His goodness.

  • How comforting is it to know that it is not my jobs to judge? It’s not my job to carry out revenge either. This is something I 100% struggle with because I struggle with low self esteem. Sometimes, everything can look like an attack and I am quick to defend myself – hurting others more than I think that they’ve tried to hurt me. I don’t have the confidence to be vulnerable like David, but that is my prayer today. I want to be confident in my vulnerability, while submitting my hurt to the Lord to handle. He will fight my battles better than I ever could!

    • Emily B.

      Amen! You can let it get and be confident in how God will fight and resolve things for you. :)

  • I was struck by chapter 23 this morning – how often does David inquire of God before making a decision or taking an action? 4 times. David went before God to seek guidance 4 times. And each time God answered. Such a comfort to remember God hears us!

    • Gina Glennon

      Yes, I too thought of that and how I need to seek after God more quickly than I do as life confronts me.

  • This was such a blessing to me today. I was raised to have a deep sense of justice and fairness and I constantly find my heart at odds in a world that is neither just or fair. I often wish to set things right and make people see their errors although I know it’s not my place and that it reflects my pride. The scriptures and devotional today were a really well placed reminder that God is just and the justifier of all. I am reading a book on spiritual humility and this tied in so well. Davids incredibly humble response was actually what God used to finally make Saul walk away from this unjust battle. It wasn’t Davids power or might, he humbly submitted those to the Lord and then God was able to work through him. I know that is a lesson God wants to teach me in this season of my life. God can do more through me when I am humbled before Him than I can ever accomplish in my own wisdom. Thank you for this picture today.

  • I can’t tell you how much I would’ve wanted to read this devotional years ago when I was going through some rough times. Through break ups and “friendships,” my mother would ALWAYS tell me exactly what Erin mentions in her devotional. These are the words of my grandmother who passed them down to my mother who has now passed them on to me. “There is a God in Heaven who sees it all. I have nothing to worry about.” This is one of the greatest lessons that both my grandmother and mother have taught me. God is always watching and He is nothing but fair. I am a living testament as much as they are that God does not let those who hurt or betray us walk away with a free pass. He is fair, He is Justice and He is my Defender ❤️

    • Melinda

      Your words resonated with me right now. Thanks so much to you, your mom and grandmother:)

  • I’m so thankful that we can enter our battles knowing the victory has already won and been paid for and that he fights them with us and for us, although I still think that means we have a relevant role in it all as well.

    http://Www.in-due-time.com

  • This morning the phrases “So David inquired of the Lord” (23:2), “David inquired of the Lord again,” (23:4), and his questions in 23:12-13 stand out to me. David is seeking the Lord, questioning Him, and waiting for a response BEFORE acting. Such a HUGE difference from Saul who would sacrifice/pray after he was in a sticky situation. May I learn to wait to hear the Lord’s voice before acting.

    • Emily B.

      Yes! Thank you for pointing that out!

    • Meagan

      Laura, that is so true. We are often so quick to only inquire of the Lord once and then go off and do whatever we see fit for that moment. David sought after the Lord, questioned Him multiple times, and waited before acting. This is a great reminder to me that no matter how quickly I want answers I need to wait on the Lord no matter how long it takes and in turn will be blessed by that decision.

  • I live in Charlottesville, Va where there has been much violence and hatred this past weekend. This study has hit close to home. There were literal battles fought. I’ve thought about how David fought Goliath and we talked about how the battle was not David’s, but God’s. David was God’s instrument, but he did not win the battle. God did. Today I thought about how David could have fought Saul, but didn’t. He let God be in control. I’ve realized that we need to stand up to injustice and hatred, but it is not our place to harm others to make our point. Thinking of Dr. King and Gandhi I believe that we need to make a stand, but non-violently. The press covered the event, but what they didn’t show were the churches that had beautiful prayer services where people of all colors, faiths and backgrounds came together to hold hands in love. God calls us to love, even our enemies. It is hard and I ask you to pray for our community that is hurting right now.

    • Erin

      Praying for you and all Charlottesville.

    • Susan

      Our Church congregation prayed for your community and the nation as a whole on Sunday morning! We are united in this coming together for love, peace and to let God rule our nation! I will pray fervently for peace throughout the human hearts of people who desperately need Him!

    • Kristin

      Thank you for sharing this At Peace. We are holding you and your whole community up in prayer to our God. You’re absolutely right, it’s so difficult to pray for those that wrong us or hurt us, but hopefully it helps to remember that the battle is ultimately the Lord’s. We pray for peace, protection, comfort and strength as Charlottesville will begin to heal from this awful, hate-inspired weekend. Sending our love and support from Cincinnati, Oh!

    • Courtney

      I immediately thought of Charlottesville when I read the passage and devotional thoughts today. Thank you for putting real flesh and bones on an ancient truth. Praying for you and for your city and putting hope in the knowledge that God is on the side of love and justice.

    • churchmouse

      Praying that your city would not be known for those indefensible actions and the terrible tragedy but by the love and sensitivity which is sure to follow. I believe that those who interceded and continue to intercede will see the fruit of their labors. I believe hearts will change and minds will be transformed as God moves in response to prayer. I kneel with you all.

    • CC

      Thank you so much for sharing this, At Peace. I think you spoke to the one thing I kept looking for in all of the articles and church statements and responses to what happened but didn’t seem to really find: loving your enemies. I think it there is righteous anger at the hate and injustice of what happened and action should be taken. And yet, as I’ve cried over all that happened and is happening, I also find myself praying deeply for forgiveness. I pray for the men and women whose hearts are full of hate right now, that the Gospel would reach them and that they would have an encounter with the God of love and peace, the God of the nations. In a broken and sinful world, I’m so thankful that our God is still sovereign and still has the power to change hearts!

    • Mamajonk

      Praying for the City of Charlottesville and our country.

    • Patti

      I will!

    • Karen From Virginia

      Praying. Davids example can give peace. The Lord has not given up but attending to our cry. Asking God to draw people to Himself in tragedy

  • I so needed to hear Gods truth. He is the sustainer of my life. To many times I want to “fly away” instead of putting my trust in the Lord to fight my battles. As my sister has so wisely reminds me. Each and every morning put on the full armor of God, Ephesians 6:10-19, and he will protect and fight my battles for me.

  • Kelly R Smith

    Ephesians 6:12 is a great reminder that interpersonal conflict is not man-to-man but flesh vs spirit. Remembering this helps me fight my battles in prayer instead of pouncing on my offender.

  • Thank you all for your feedback on this study! I struggle with reading the long amount but the devotional and then your comments really help me tie it together! Normally my child is sleeping and I do a better job but for this study she has been right at me! I am thankful that I have her but it has been a time of growth for me! I would have not thought about comparing my words to swords while reading this and it’s so true! Thank you all!! I hope you have a blessed day!

    • Renee

      Way to go SB, in keeping your commitment. God will honour your time with Him. Praying for you and your little one.

  • PursuedByHim

    “He knew the battle ultimately belonged to the Lord.”

    “We don’t have to seek revenge or take out our enemies. David’s defender is our defender.”

    Amen and amen! I know that revenge is an easy thing for me to do, and that the devil can definitely ruin my witness with it. It has happened. I pray today that I will remember the battle is the Lord’s…not mine. He will take care of me and those who treat me wrongly. I need to focus constantly on trusting Him and treating others with HIS love!

  • churchmouse

    I have never sought to kill someone. Well, not with my hands. I have, however, wanted to be quick witted enough to have the perfect comeback towards that one who hurt me, betrayed me, dismissed me, ignored me. I want to go for the jugular but I don’t want to go to jail. (just being honest here) So my weapon of choice becomes my speech. You know, the perfectly pointed words that would put them in their place. Words that would cut if not kill and I would feel oh so… smug. There. I’ve shown them. A corner of cloth won’t cut it but boy, a sarcastic word spoken sweetly just might make me feel… justified. Vindicated. Even triumphant. For all of a moment. I call myself a Christ follower – and they know that too. Yes I do initially feel triumphant – until I realize it is a false and hollow victory. In seeking my method of vengeance, I have sinned. Deliberately. Sinned. That’s the right pointed word. I have become judge and jury when that is God’s job, not mine. I have sought revenge and though I thought I had the victory, I had really just been used by Satan. That is the hard truth and I am so embarrassed, so humiliated, so disappointed in myself. I am brought low by the temporary high. I had lost the battle. I crawl back to the true King’s camp and confess my selfish egregious act. I can’t look Him in the face, let alone in to His eyes. I have become the betrayer. I have become the traitor. I am His disgraced soldier. And there, dear friends, is where my realest victory comes – prostrate at His feet. Humbled before Him. Asking His forgiveness for failing Him. He doesn’t say “Off with her head!” or throw me into solitary confinement or dishonorably discharge me from His army. He cups my face in His nail scarred hands and whispers “Oh my child, you were not meant for this. Vengeance is mine. Leave the burden of justice to me and walk in peace. I see and I will take care of all this. Now… Stand. Pick up your armor. Grasp tightly to the sword of the Spirit which is My Word. Walk always in it. All will be fine.” Oh what grace given to guilty me. What a mighty and tender God King I serve. Grateful. Again.

    • NanaP

      Thank you, once again, churchmouse. Your words echo my actions and feelings. We serve a mighty God. Forgiveness, unconditional love … always available.

    • Elisabeth7291

      Bingo, Churchmouse. Thank you.

    • Brandi

      Oh man! How I needed this today! Thank you!

    • Nemoof7

      Thank you!❤️

    • Becky Getter

      Beautiful written words……thank you churchmouse. Your heartfelt words have blessed me and many more.

    • Tochi Heredia

      Oh boy, do I relate!
      Thank you for your honesty Churchmouse. It’s such a blessing to know that I’m not the only one out there that feels this way.
      It makes me so happy –and relieved– that I don’t have to fight my own battles: He goes before me!

    • Mamajonk

      Beautifully said. Thank you Churchmouse.

    • Veronica

      Such beautiful imagery. Thank you.

    • Cecilia

      Your words ‘being used by satan’ really strikes me. You think its just you, in your head, your sinful nature but really we are being used by satan to perpetuate his lies, accusations etc. This is going to help me keep perspective on the spiritual warfare in the moments I need it, Churchmouse…thank you!

    • Lana

      This. Is. Me. And I have been actively, actively working on it for a little over a year now. Thank you for this imagery. It is so timely. Thank you thank you thank you. I might not have been laying people out with my tongue lately, but I sure have been sticking it to them in my heart. Praying for deliverance. For surrender. For peace. For all of us. Sending you all my love. Thanks again!

    • Lana

      Whenever I feel the desire to take revenge with my words, I’m going to try and remember to sing Shake the Devil Off by Dorothy Norwood. Maybe somewhere between the praise and dancing God can take control of my tongue and heart.

    • Lauren Whittinghill

      Thank you for these words. God is sooooo good to us. Lord, your grace and mercy are undeserving and overwhelming. Oh how you love us.

  • There is so much in this story today that I needed to hear! “We don’t have to seek revenge or take out our enemies. David’s defender is our defender.” My human nature wants to do exactly what David didn’t do – seek revenge. I want to right the wrongs done to me, but I don’t have to.
    I know that there are times when I am called to take a stand against injustice and unrighteousness and I pray to be like David and “inquire of the Lord” before I do anything. David Platt said, “We don’t have to right every wrong done to us because we have the promise that God will exercise His righteous judgment at Christ’s coming. God is more than capable of balancing the books.”
    Holy, righteous Father, I pray for the wisdom and discernement to know when to speak and when to be still. The battle isn’t mine. The battle belongs to You. You are fighting for me. You are my helper; the sustainer of my life, and my rescuer in every situation. Help me to respond with kindness and let You do what You will.
    Be blessed, sweet sisters!

  • Thank you for this wonderfully written, easy to read devotional Erin. What a blessing!!

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